I really enjoy doing the double Monday class when I can go. It's been a while since I've been able to do it. After the two classes I sleep like a rock and have a satisfying tiredness. Even today I am somewhat tired but I still have that happiness you get from a good workout.
First class at Shodokan. We warmed up a bit. We had a little extra time so I suggested to our senior student that we do some line techniques to practice ukemi and warm up more. After a few rounds Mr. Mulligan borrowed us and had us working with the new students. He had us doing shihonage omote from a hand grab. My partner for this had obviously practiced some other art at some point. I remember when I saw him last week that he was on the balls of his feet more. He also was more formal than the average student. I spoke to him after class and sure enough he has a tae kwan do background. He was practicing forward rolls on his own after class.
Another pair of beginning students were doing some ki tests. Not something I've seen done at this dojo lots but I have read about them. Not to say that ki isn't mentioned or anything, it's just that I don't ever recall seeing the ki tests being part of the class (aside from unbendable arm). One student was sitting in seiza while the other pushed. This was done after class between two of the newer students. So either one of them read about it, saw it, or has some experience with aikido in a different group.
So, while I was doing shihonage with my partner I attempted to 'teach' just by trying to do the technique correctly. He was watching so I didn't feel the need to speak. It was interesting what parts he was picking up on and what part he was missing. He made some improvement in one or two areas. He was more sticky and was getting the twisting/offbalancing better. He also started keeping his hands in front of his center as he stepped in. He was still missing other things. I tried to stress these once or twice but he wasn't getting it... so I went back to just doing a clean version of the technique. He'll learn eventually. No need to get it 100% right in one class. If you give a new person too many things to think about at once it isn't necessarily a help.
After this Bob moved us back into a line for a few techniques. In the end, we did shihonage, kaitenage, iriminage, kotagaeshi, and udekimenage (not in that order). Bob mentioned a few things for each technique, such as cutting uke's hand away for iriminage before the grab is solidified, mentoning that there is actually a strike available for the udekimenage, and so forth. At the end of class he had us go in a circle and have each person attack and nage respond with each of the techniques we did in class. It's hard still for me sometimes. When I get into a position I want to do a second kotagaeshi or a second iriminage and I'm trying to do one of the others. I need to be able to focus a little more. I'm sort of used to just reacting. This is all well and good but I should be able to demonstrate each of the techniques intentionally. Someday, I will have to. I'm wondering if I'm having trouble with it because I was simply tired and losing focus.
I stuck around for a few minutes to talk to one of the new folks and change a lightbulb. Also, after class I practiced that nasty ukemi Rob did a couple weeks back. Ever since I took his suggestion I don't seem to have any problem with it any more. Basically, it's a backwards roll. Why so hard do you ask? Do it from a seated position. Your sitting on the floor with one leg extended and the other out but with a bend at the knee some. You have no momentum to work with so it's all moving your center and pushing with your feet. The first time I tried it I wasn't pushing with both feet and had trouble rolling. So of course I want to practice it. I did a few of these after class again and had no problems.
After this I hit North Shore Aikido for my second class. Mike was teaching tonight. He started us off with some ukemi practice and some jo work in a line. He spoke of the reasons uke want's to be committed to grabbing the end. You either go for it or you don't. Going for it sort of just gets you (theoretically) pounded on by the guy the holding the jo. At one point Alex was holding the jo, giving me a little lead so I moved in a little but I didn't commit because the lead was only slight, when the lead didn't develop he instead resumed keeping the jo up towards my face forcing me back. He did this a couple of times, once I saw a clear opportunity I went in quickly and grabbed it allowing Alex to do his technique. Good practice, and since I can't predict Alex 100% my being cautious about grabbing the end wasn't fake in any way. I really felt some intent from him. Or at least.... I didn't want to get hit in the face with a jo enough to make me cautious.
During my turn I had an interesting time with Alex as uke. He was tough. Frequently he would slide in more and adjust his feet. I got him to take the step. My timing must have started out pretty good. But then... I screwed up. He came in so deep, he set his weight on that foot hard. I had little room to draw the jo back and put it on his other side for the throw. So, I ended up doing it, feeling every pound as I didn't have his balance.
After the jo work we moved on to an exercise in balance. There are some taped lines around the mat. He wanted us to walk along those lines carefully, placing each foot down and raise the other up at the same time while maintaining our balance. Then he had us on one foot, rotating our body to show we are loose and then place the foot down. Notice I'm using the word 'place'. Stepping should be a deliberate act with you shifting your weight to the other foot in a mindful way.
Man.... you really can find anything on youtube. Ok.... this isn't the walk exactly but it came up as a joke at one point.
As for techniques... what can I remember doing..... It's all a bit of a blur at this point. We did one of my favorites, a yokomen version of an otoshi. It's realtively simple. Timing is important. Step a bit, tenkan out of the way as you continue uke's yokomen swing. The hand on the hand/wrist pulls the arm up a bit to take the slack out, the other hand cuts under the elbow and you can push down for an armbar feeling to roll over uke for the pin... or if you really mean it, you can side step while holding the arm in this fashion.
The last throw was taking uke, making a big circle with the hand and undercutting as you go back to one knee. Peter does a one handed aiki version of this. Mike's version was a little more realistic as there is a grab at one point to enforce the connection.