Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Great Monday Class

Had a great class at North Shore Aikikai last night. Mike had us doing sumi-otoshi, udekiminage, some kind of kokyunage(the one where you step out after a tsuki, you take your right on his right hand and rotate his arm up and back and undercut as you take a knee), shihonage, kotagaeshi, wakigatme, taiotoshi, and some kind of mystery throw. I think he called it haraigoshi.

Check out the mystery throw here. It's in the list.

I was pitiful at it. But I may be having an 'a-ha' moment in what it looks like. Once I'm in that position I have to fight to not do a koshinage. Hearing Mike talk about it last night put it in a different light for me. Doesn't mean I'll be able to do it but I think my understanding of the throw is better now.

Why do I remember most of the throws where normally I forget? Because Matt wasn't in last night so I got to take ukemi for Mike's demos. I like feeling his aikido. He should mix in more.

The wakagitame was ridiculous. When Mike had that on me I had to move like heck and tap out fast.

Very sweet. Fun techniques.

Monday, November 22, 2010

So Close, She Can Almost Roll

The last beginners group at Shodokan started mixing in with the regular classes. For the first time I can remember the new students are coming to the Sunday morning class. So Peter has adjusted the class for them. This past sunday was really interesting. He described 3 different footwork patterns for them. He chose techniques to use a tanshin step, a tenkan, and a tenkan with a j-step. The j-step was really puzzling them.

I asked one of the students if I could help her a bit after class. Out of all the new folks she is the one person with a nice unbendable arm. The only reason she isn't rolling well is simply because of how she is aiming her body. The foot was aimed off to the side and the hands were going down to the side as well. I had her aim herself forward and put her hands down for the roll directly in front of her and she did a couple of excellent rolls. Then we called it quits. I doubt if that one session will mean that she will roll correctly from now on but at least now she has something to think about. She was very happy to get a couple of good rolls in. I myself was having flashbacks of Jim telling me to do some of these things when he taught the Sunday class. They made no sense to me back then. They do now.

We had a weapons night Friday at Shodokan. More precisely, a weapons disarming night. The end of the night culminated in a 3 on 1 session of disarming. Ukes had a tanto, bokken and a jo. I found myself mostly worried about what the jo guy was doing. It has quite a bit of range. For my turn of the 3 on 1 there was one moment where I had one person on their way down and the other two were not pressing me. As a result, I paused for a second waiting to see who was going to move to me first. Maybe next time I should just move in towards one of them. If they were really trying to nail me I doubt they'd just be standing there though. Sometimes I don't think the uke's pressure people enough. Depends on the ukes I guess.

Here is a question. Am I being a tool? One of my partners at Shodokan this week is a 1st kyu who tends to trash people some. In the past he's done everyhing from not giving me my slap hand back to holding on to my arm after a throw and pressuring or pulling out the elbow and shoulder joint. At one point we were doing an iriminage and he specifically choose to do a clothesline version. Worse still he was driving me right into the ground. The force of it was strong enough that I actually bumped my head a little(the first time as I was not expecting it). So, on my turn, I do it his way so he could feel it and plow him into the ground(at maybe half strength) and say.... 'that is what I'm feeling'. He was overjoyed as if I had learned something and said 'yes!'. Ok.... I'm not a strong guy and although some things work better with strength, you really shouldn't need any. I don't want to practice that way. I'd rather practice getting uke's balance. This guy will sooner or later understand that I have no interest in doing things his way.

For the rest of the practice, I gave him honest reactions as uke. If he pushed me down and planted me I didn't make up for that. In fact, in one instance he was telling me to float more except he was planting me. I told him he was planting me and he said nothing after that. My thought was if you want me to float.... float me. What I found was that for almost every throw he was relying on me just falling down or adjusting for him. I was surprised. He was annoyed.

During kotagaeshi he was giving me very tight ones and I had to breakfall very quickly to get out of one of them. I was fine with that. Got up smiling as usual. So I do the same with him and he complains. Why? Because he didn't want to breakfall to protect himself and it was a very tight kotagaeshi. So after that I had to baby him some for those. The difference is that these were tight because of proper technique, not because I was just using strength or hyperextending a joint after the technique was over.

I'm guessing he won't be picking me as a partner much in the future after a couple more classes. I have no interest in being unecessarily beaten on so this is fine with me. He can practice his style of aikido with someone else. To date, he is the only person I met that I really ever wanted to avoid on the mat. This guy is the same one that was rough with me a while back because he disagreed on how an ukemi should be done.

Looks like I missed out on a seminar. New England Aikikai had a fund raising seminar and dinner I would have liked to have gone to. I had other committments.

Further back in the week, last Monday, North Shore Aikikai had a guest instructor. Some gentleman from France who studied under Tamura Sensei. The class was excellent.

Monday, November 08, 2010


Yep... that sound of my uke choking. I intended a blood choke and got windpipe instead. I slapped it on fairly quick because we were doing knife disarms.

Sunday morning Peter had us doing all sort of knife disarms but we spent a portion of the class working on a different situation. How to do a disarm when the knife is reversed. Usually we practice so that the knife is held outward so it can stab or slash. This time we held it reversed so that the length of the blade ran along the forearm. This is obviously really good for getting in close and slashing.

It leads to difficulties. Because of the position of the blade some of the usual hand/wrist grabs that we do to control the knife hand don't work. So Peter opened it up and asked us to see what we could come up with. There were a few different ways the students came up with.

One was to stop the knife by almost catching the hand. After that you could do whatever you liked. I didn't like that very much becuase it was too easy to miss the catch and end up with a sliced hand.

One way I first tried was to wait for the slash to complete and then quickly enter and make sure that I had one hand on the back of the elbow. That was so that he couldn't swing the knife back at me. At that point you can do whatever. I opted for the choke I described above. One hand controlling the knife hand wrist(back of the wrist, the other hand on the neck using the thumb to push the head. The whole body is brought backwards so they are relying on you for their balance. You can kneel and hyperextend the elbow or just choke em at this point. The problem with doing all of this is that you are forced to wait for a good opportunity to get in.

Next I tried something totally different. I matched the attack. If the attacker was right handed, they would be slashing from right to left from their perspective. I would enter to their open side and tenkan 90 degrees. Sort of like what Alan likes to do for yokomenunchi shihonage. I atemi as I enter with my right hand. Oddly enough the left hand is in a great position to block and grab the knife hand. You are inside the range of the attack. So at this point you can do whatever.

Peter seemed to like this idea the best. As uke you are keeping out of range of the knife and entering at the same time. It's also very easy to do that block without needing perfect timing.