Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm Back

I went away on a trip to Colorado recently. Went flyfishing and canyoneering. Very fun to do both. Once upon a time I used to rock climb. Forgot how fun it is to rappel.

I did the "Hidden Splendor" tour. And... yes.... there was chest deep water we had to wade through at times.

I went to Friday night's first class. Mr. Mulligan had us doing wrist grab attacks. We did some kokyunage, Some form of koshinage (garume) and a host of other stuff. I had two partners for about half the class. One was a very experienced person and the other has been around maybe 6 months or so. Big difference in how they react to me. The more inexperienced person gave me excellent feedback with his body as he 'didn't go where he was supposed to'. He was actually turning too much putting himself off balance making the prescribed technique more difficult. I still worked out how to adjust for it. However, in a real situation, I would more likely just take advantage of his imbalance and do something else.

At one point I had Sam as a partner for an ogoshi hip throw. After a few cycles he switches to ukigoshi. I recognized it immediately. I think I surprised him. When it was my turn I slid in and did a nice ukigoshi for him as well. After I got that out of my system I went back to the hip throw that was being taught.

I saw an interesting pair for this class. Serge was paired up with this really big guy with not so good ukemi. I've actually seen him improve the past 6 months. He's really working on it but it's obvious he has a ways to go. Serge is excellent and has wonderful sensitivity. He was throwing him pretty well. Some of the ukemi he was taking wasn't too bad where others obviously caused rough landings. He was told that if he is experiencing pain on ukemi he should take a break. I've heard this from multiple instructors. The thought is that as you are learning you aren't supposed to associate ukemi with pain.

I made it to the Sunday morning class. Peter had us busy with some knife disarms. One bit of practice that was very challenging was starting out with insufficient mai. There may be a time that someone is standing right in front of you, has a knife, and chooses to use it. It was very difficult to get the body out of the way and your hands on the incoming thrust so that you could do something with it. Anyone learning knife disarming techniques... don't fool yourself. Getting involved in a knife fight is just bad.

After class I had an interesting conversation with one of the students. He was talking about how he thought of techniques in terms of their ability to break joints and do major damage. That he doesn't think in terms of pain or mechanical compliance. I was surprised to hear that from someone so experienced. He certainly isn't abusive on the mat or anything. While it is true that the techniques we do do have the potential for damage (I've seen it), most people are taught to think in terms of the aiki philosophy. The idea that you'd rather stop your attacker without actually harming them if possible. Now, there may be situations where you have no choice but to break a wrist or an elbow. Breaking joints shouldn't usually be the first goal. Maybe it's a leftover from his military background.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Worked With Gary Some

As usual, I missed blogging here for a few classes. I did however recently skip a class or two. I didn't go to Sunday morning or 1st class Monday.

On Friday at Shodokan, Sam ran a nice session for us. We got to play with a tai otoshi which I always loved. After class Mr. Mulligan noted how hard I planted Sam. I told him it was because he has great ukemi and could take it and.... more importantly his attack was so strong I took that as a signal to go ahead and throw. Truth be told, I didn't use really any strength at all. I had the timing down well. For everyone else in line I tend to hold back and only give them what they indicate on their attack and since I know them all... never push them to the limit of their ukemi.

After class Gary asked me to stay for a little bit so he could work on some suwari waza. Most of it was ushiro. So I'd run around, grab the shoulders and he'd come up with something.... then I'd come around again.... and again.... I was getting up quickly and giving him constant attacks. Nice workout for me. Gary was psyched he got some extra practice in.

Monday night I went to North Shore Aikikai. Jim taught his brand of practical aikido. We are so used to people moving certain ways. I had one of the newer folks. The attack called for nage to tenkan and pull uke around. New people frequently won't turn to face you. If this happens in real life then you are good to go. You can do any number of things to him while his back is turned or just run away real fast.

However, if you are trying to do a technique with or without uke's active coorperation then you need to do a little more work. Jim had us trying out a different way to pull uke around. Pulling closer to the upper arm then the lower. Keeping your bodies close to each other. This way you can really yank him around. When we did taiotoshi we focused more on throwing out and letting uke trip over that extended foot. It was hard for me to throw out instead of down.

I asked them about pinning while I was there. The fact of the matter is that I probably never changed how I pin people. It's just that I became aware of what I thought was a hole in the process. If you have a hole during a pin then you give uke an oppourtunity to get up. Always analyzing something.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Practice Feels Good

Short class Friday night. Mr. Mulligan said he wanted to move us to a summer schedule where the 1st class ends a little early and the 2nd class would be cut short as well. I'm guessing it's a permanent change however.

Seems as though we have a New England Aikikai transplant. I've seen him around before at other dojos. He lives in the area and wants to go to a closer dojo so he's joining Shodokan. I spoke to him after class. He wants to work on his shodan test. We were doing lots of that practice on the second Friday night class. I'm guessing with him around that this will continue.

Friday night was a lot of wrist grab attacks. We did some sankyo, nikkyo and so forth.

Sunday morning was fun. Peter had us doing a nice range of techniques. There was one that I used to have trouble with and now it's no problem for some reason. That's how it is sometimes. I will have trouble with a technique and then some time passes and all of a sudden I can do it at speed with no problems. The new guy is super tall. At one point I had him as a partner for koshinage. he would get down to a point, then lower himself for a moment just to load me and then come back up some before he did the throw.

There has been one thing nagging me the past couple months. The transition for my vertical pin needs work. The moment where you move the arm from one hand to the other is sloppy. I'll have to watch this carefully next chance I get.