Saturday, November 24, 2012

Friday Night Class

Did a bunch of kokyunage with mixed results. Some of them remind me of good exercises but impractical for real world use. However, that could be true... or it could be that I am not necessarily understanding the throw well enough right now. We spent some time with Mr. Mulligan stressing teaching techniques. Friday night is the advanced class and I think he sees his higher level folks teaching some day in the future. During class we were going through all the basic controls one by one. It was quite fun actually. However, while doing ikkyo I had this one guy as a partner. He's older, inflexible, with a so-so lower back and limited ukemi ability. So, I was going easier on him so I didn't challenge his ukemi too much. Mr. Mulligan comes over and asks me if I'm taking it easy on him on purpose and I tell him yes. So then heasks me to really do ikkyo as I would normally do it. I did and tried to take it easy on him still but he ended up in some amount of pain from lack of ukemi. His shoulder was stressed. He made a joke that he has to go back to work the next day(so I shouldn't damage him). I adjust my technique to my partner. I still try to do proper technique. However, I slow the pace up for most people so they can keep up. In reality there are only a few people in the dojo that I can actually throw at normal practice speed or intensity. I hold back most of the time. Although fun to let go and throw sometimes, I never feel it necessary to crush people who aren't ready for it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thought Becomes Action

Never before had I such a concrete example of a state of mind affecting aikido practice as I had the other night. Actually, it was a test night at Shodokan. A very large test night with a good number of people testing. About two and a half weeks ago, Mr. Mulligan told me I'm testing this time. I'm a bit overdue so it sounded fine to me. I was bummed at the lack of 2nd kyu techniques in any of the classes leading up to the test. We did however work quite a bit on freestyle.

Mr. Mulligan wanted to see us enter for pretty much every attack. Apparently during the last test there were too many people backing up. So as a dojo we worked on getting better at entering. These were the classes we've been having the past few weeks.

I was relatively calm while waiting for my test. But something strange happened. While I waited for my turn to test, I got downright mellow. For whatever reason, I felt none of the pressure that you typically feel during testing. I was sort of in a relaxed focused frame of mind. So, when it was my turn to get up and test, I think my frame of mind was reflected in the test. Not only there... but really showed up in my freestyle. They only gave me two people to deal with which seems relatively easy. But.... it wouldn't have mattered if there were more. I did various techniques.... a good deal of getting kazushi beforehand. As a result I could almost gently neutralize each attack. I even did a good amount of kokyunage for the freestyle. I'm not sure where all that came from. Before I started the test I planned on doing some big throws. During the test however I ended up doing a different flavor of aikido. It was all very soft and still effective. No idea where all that came from. It did however reflect my state of mind.

One of the more fun moments was when I had thrown Sam with a projection so he ended up pretty far from me. Than I threw Dave. When I looked at Sam he wasn't in position to attack me immediately, so I followed Dave's ukemi and as he came up I took his balance and threw him again, then I headed straight towards Sam and entered for a technique on him.

I was so relaxed for my test and freestyle that I didn't get winded at all. Not at all what I expected. I had a test and I think some aikido fell out.

Was the test perfect? Heck no. I know some things that I could do better. I'm sure there were other things that I am not even aware of. But it felt like a really good test. We'll know results in a few days.

At one point it turned out that someone's uke was double booked and I was asked last minute to fill in. I was happy to. The 1st kyu test though can be quite challenging to uke for. There are a lot of throws you have to take in a row. My nage was struggling a bit with the test. At times he would not react to my attack and I had to start over. He hadn't developed enough memory of the techniques.

I'm sure he would have done better with his planned partner but I got a muddled sense of aikido from him. I got no clear lead a lot of the time. I am fairly sensitive. At least enough to react to a lead most times. I wasn't getting that from him. So a lot of the techniques didn't look ideal. I think he was asked to retest in a few months. I spoke to Mr. Mulligan after the test to tell him we had never worked together at all and that his regular partner was on a different mat area testing with someone else. Apparently they didn't talk to the instructors to work it out beforehand so he got stuck with me.

I feel kind of bad about it. Like I sort of let him down. In the end though, if he were really ready, I'd like to think that he could do the test with anyone and pass it. I don't think he had enough practice time in before the test.