Friday, February 28, 2014

Open Mat Nght

Only four of us showed tonight so we had an open mat night.

I was asked to work with Andrew tonight on his 4th kyu stuff.  Happy to do it.  The other two guys worked on their 1st kyu test requirements.

Andrew is very interesting.  He's had a black belt in at least one other art for a little while.  He started cross-training within the past year or so I think although he was away from aikido for a while.  Going through the test was interesting because some of the techniques I hadn't seen in a real long time.

I had to do some serious remembering.  All of them were pretty much ok but there was one on the list that bothered me.  It was tsuki iriminage tenkan variation.  I figured out one way to do while on the mat.  Then on the way home I came up with a different way.  So now I'm going to look stuff up on youtube to see what flavors of this people are doing.

One other interesting technique was ushiro tekubitori sankyo.  I was doing it Jim style by taking a step back with that outside leg and sliding the other one in.  The theory behind that being that you're not leaving your groin open.  During practice sensei asked us to step back with the inside leg.  This exposes the groin but not necessarily.  It also cranks the sankyo if you turn in that direction a bit.  Two different ways to do that one I guess.  I suggested to Andrew that he do it Mr. Mulligan's way since he's the one that will be looking at the test.

So I had a good class, teaching Andrew and doing a good bit of self-examination to make sure that the stuff we were doing was as correct as possible.  I also didn't get too fiddly with Andrew.  I remember as a beginner that it isn't necessarily helpful to get constant corrections.  You need to let them get some practice in even if it isn't 100% correct.  Then as they develop some experience, you can start tweaking things for them to work on.

For Andrew one of the few tweaks I did was to help his knee walking.  During the suwari waza practice, he seemed to be having trouble especially with the tenkans.  So we stopped the practice and just did some knee walking for a short while.  Then we went back to the suwari waza.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Serious Hang Time

Monday night we did a number of ushiro techniques.  Most of them made sense to me.  There was one that didn't seem like it can work.  Could be simply that I can't make it work.

The craziest throw of the night had to be the hip throw.  It was the usual one where you get a sankyo, extend uke some and move in for the hip throw.  The one I'm more familiar with has feet separated, and uke goes across your belt you have the option of pulling back the forward foot (Kanai style).

4:38 has the hip throw I'm talking about.

 Matt instead was doing a more classic hip throw from this position.  Didn't much matter except that I felt as though I was not thrown over the belt line.... I was thrown much higher and Matt popped me.  I swear I was 6ft in the air.  I don't really mind much but it's a difficult ukemi.  I was very thankful for the extremely soft floor at NSA.

On my turn I opted for a less spectacular throw.  I did pull my forward foot away(although a little late).  I usually only do this for uke's who can handle the throw.

We worked a bit on 3rd kyu test requirements for Roger.  Was nice going over this stuff again.  Although I see differences in how I was taught on some of these.  I generally try and do it the way being shown though so Roger sees consistency.  Trying to be a good partner.

Usual Sunday Morning

Not much to say.  We had a good class.  Did some wrong sided attacks, various responses.  I did my best to try and give my very experienced partner honest feedback.  The guy I was working with was bailing on techniques as usual.  Bummer.

Sword Work

Friday night was an interesting change.  Bob spent a good hunk of time working on some sword exercises.  My favorite was a simple partner practice.  First person cuts straight down.  Other person leans to one side(foot turns out a bit), with the hilt of the sword raised above your head and the blade covering your head/body.  When the cut comes down it makes contact and slides down behind you.  Then you take your turn cutting and go back and forth.

After a while we then did more randori(as we've been doing the past few weeks).  After a couple of runs, Bob added a Shinai for the uke's to use.  Nage had to be aware of where that was.

The most amusing part of the night was that Tony was around.  On his turn for Randori he disarms the sword holder but rather than setting it down out of the way, he uses it to attack anyone nearby.  He got to the second shinai holder and just started swinging.  Pure Tony.  Thing is.... he wasn't doing this to be funny.  This is the way he is.  40 years of judo background, there is no way he's giving up any advantage.  He just isn't wired that way.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Another Lucid Moment (aka. you can lead a horse to water...)

From time to time when studying aikido, I figure something out. Usually, that something has been mentioned in class after class. A teacher can talk about doing something a certain way and it doesn't mean much. Until one day, a moment of realization sets in and you think to yourself.... that's what that teacher was showing me. It could have been something he was showing you 2 years ago too.

I've had moment's like that occasionally. I just had one this week. For easily a couple years now I've seen a technique done by Rob. Start with a wrist grab. Nage goes for an uchi entry, extend uke's arm up and out so uke's balance is up and over one foot. Step behind uke while simultaneously cutting down with the connected hand with a yokomen like cut. Now uke comes around and bounces down and comes back up again as he turns to face nage. With the still connected hand you enter and drive nage's hand/arm up while simultaneously using your other hand on their shoulder to lead uke down.

So.... tough to picture? It's sort of like a kaitenage variation except you stay close to uke, and never hold their head down so they can come up again. You use the hand to drive that up and around in a kaitenage-like manner. The difference is the throw is done from in front of uke instead of behind.

Whenever I saw that technique, what I thought I was seeing was uke coming up from the bounce and nage pulling uke towards him, using flexibility to twist and bend at the waist to slip out of the way. Instead of focusing on just the pulling part, I was never much paying attention to the other arm which should have been pushing at the same time. I was certainly making it work. I still had kazushi, was using no muscle and relied on flexibility to do the throw. Over and over again in the past years, Rob would mention that you are moving BOTH arms in conjunction. One is pushing, the other is leading/pulling. For whatever reason, this finally clicked in class Monday night.

Past Few Fridays

The past couple Friday nights, Bob was teaching at Shodokan. He had us working on our freestyle/randori. Overall he wanted to see more movement and fluidity out of people. He stressed getting into the best positions possible and trying to get your uke's lined up if possible so you can deal with them in a row.

Overall for these classes I felt I was doing ok. On most days I move to good positions which can be challenging at times on a narrow mat. The last class however I felt a bit stuck. We spent the whole class with a 2 handed grab as an attack and then used that for freestyle practice. I had 3 or 4 uke's, most of which were really latching on with resistance. Whenever one of them really grabbed me I had no issue doing a technique, however because they truly had me in a tight grip, I felt stuck.

Since this class I had some time to think about it and I even mentioned it to another teacher that I practice with frequently on Monday nights. I really need to focus on starting the technique the instant uke goes for the grab. I could start moving with a lead before he grabs, or not even let uke get a good grab by deflecting it or doing something else. I'll have to give that a shot. However, letting uke get a grab and settle in before I do anything probably isn't the best way to go, especially for a freestyle.