Tuesday, February 09, 2010

More Practice Needed

If last night was any indication, I need gobs more practice for my freestyle. I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here though.

I started off at Shodokan. Bob had us start off with some tenkan practice and some back stretches. The rest of the night was one exercise building on another. At one point we were doing a tsuki attack and responding with either a tenkan/j-step/sumi-otoshi, or just the 5th kyu version of kotagaeshi. We had to really watch our spacing as there were quite a few students on the mat last night. These two exercises were fine. Then at another point we had been doing a tsuki iriminage(longer version with the tenkan).
Then we did a similar start ending with a sankyo.

Basically we did a whole bunch of stuff and some of it flowed from one to the other. All of these exercises/techniques felt really good. Most times I think I had some sense of what I was doing and things were working.

Bob then had us split into groups(of 4) and take turns attacking one person in the middle. I did so so on these. For some reason I kept going to a nikkyo. We really were supposed to be doing something that we practiced that night. Nikkyo was not included. Neither was koshinage which is what followed after I got the nikkyo on my uke. I wasn't sure what to do with him. I realized I did the 'wrong' technique but wanted to finish doing something so I looked at him and saw hip throw. I slid in and did a beautiful ogosh. I know the throw must have felt relatively gentle to my partner (as it was really smooth) but I am still not happy about doing the 'wrong' technique. This theme continues.....

Class was almost ending so Bob had us taking turns for freestyle practice. We each had to attempt to handle 4 ukes. Discussing just my own performance here...... Bleeechh. The only thing good that I felt I did is that I had a really good sense for where all my uke's were. I didn't always have great position(surrounded). Frequently I felt like I was stuck not doing aikido. At least twice I ended up with a nikkyo but instead of just following it up with something I became conscious of the fact that I was not doing one of the techniques we practiced that night.

I really feel like my freestyle went severely downhill. I did better on my last test in the spring (although that was only 2 people). At least there I purposely got off the standard set of techniques. I don't know if it's from lack of practice or I was just overwhelmed by too many ukes. The thing is.... if I merely screwed up my position I wouldn't be that unhappy. That has to be learned and I haven't done much of this kind of practice. What I am unhappy about is that I expected more aikido to come out.

I'm trying to keep a positive mind on this but it's difficult. It was a disheartening end of a fun class. I still wonder if I would do the same or better if I wasn't trying to limit my responses to what we did that evening. We frequently limit an attack or response so people can practice more safely. People know what ukemi to take and so forth. The thing is... I think I have it in me to do better at this stage but I may be wrong. I feel as though I should be able to purposefully do one of 4 or so techniques.

It makes me want to practice that more. I don't see this as an ending or anything. It's just where I am right now.

Despite my dismal finish I headed out for North Shore Aikikai.
We practiced tenkans. Afterwards we worked on doing a tenkan with a j-step concentrating on our foot positions, balance, and hand positions.

When that was done we tried to use this and apply it to a moretetori ikkyo and then maybe nikkyo. Matt also focused on teaching pins. I got to focus on something that's been bugging me for a while. I found that I needed to transition before I get down to a knee. The class was doing real well pinning. Even the least experienced person there was pinning me really well. Everything was really tight and he had control of me about 85% of the time. He did amazingly well for where he is at right now.

Later we moved to a jujinage from ushiro. This was actually a good thing to work on since it's on my next test. I did fair on it. There are some aspects that I need to work on still.

At the end of class he showed us a really fun throw. There was a bit of body movement and somehow as uke I felt like I was whipped/cast out.


At February 12, 2010 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah Yes, the elusive free style. I think first off that when you are trying to limit your technique you put an immediate barrier to a smooth free style. Even at much higher levels of training, that limitting to a few responses is very difficult becuase sometimes they just aren't there and you have to force them which sucks you up for the next thing. When Bob does suggest limmiting the response, take it as a recommendation and let yourself respond naturally outside of those techniques without self critisism. You will feel much smoother and it will be a better free style. That being said, always enter. This gets them to respond to you and lets you set the pace. It also places you to the outside of the circle and they have to line up to reach you getting in each others way. Try throwing the attacker back at the others. this buys you time and lets you choose who you will approach next. I think 3 person attacks are the most difficult because everyone can reach you from a side. With 4 or more people they start to get in each others ways just to reach you. Also, there is a big difference between 2 and 4 attackers so don't be discouraged. I recall at my shodon test how really awful my freestyle felt. I then got a chance to see it on video. It lookd really smooth until I tripped on my own feet toward the end. This made me wonder if even the shihan finish their multiple attacks thinking, " boy that felt awful" Good luck. Rob

At February 12, 2010 3:49 PM, Blogger Poxbox said...

At one point Bob did suggest that straying from the suggested limited set of techniques is more preferable to doing nothing or just stopping.

During my test a while back, the 2 person freestyle I did had me frequently dumping one uke in front of the other one intentionally. I felt pretty good about that one overall. I could have entered more instead of waiting for uke to come to me though.

For this class.... Just before the freestyle was an exercise with a few people taking turns attacking the one guy in the middle. I had trouble sticking to that nights techniques even for this simple exercise. For whatever reason I kept falling into a nikkyo or wanting to do udekimenage or something. It's a fight to try and stick with the program.

I'm hoping that more practice will help things. It could be that I just need to do this one a different day.

At February 13, 2010 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is of course coming back another day. That seems to me to be one of my lessons. But I will say that your nature lends itself to a more free flow rather than well planned precision. Hence your term noodleing around. We practice both but the flow is more elusive. So don't try to repress it too much especially in the free style realm. Rob


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