Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Getting Uke's Foot Stuck

At North Shore Aikikai we've been looking at how to take uke's balance in a particular way.  I've felt this particular off-balance in lots of techniques but in this class it was talked about and techniques picked to practice it.

There is a way to move uke in a circular motion that gets their foot stuck and they can't help but fall.  How you get there may depend on what handles you grab(head, shoulder, arm, etc)  but the motion is still the same.  Draw uke slightly forward over his toes, then on to the side of his foot and maybe back again.

One of the important points is how you draw uke forward in this case.  You don't want to simply pull uke forward or down.  You want to draw uke up and forward a bit.  This might be accomplished a number of ways but if you are using a hand on a shoulder for instance, you want to stroke the shoulder up and forward a tiny bit.  That's enough to move them forward.  Then you can start moving them so that they stick the edge of their feet.

One exercise had Matt simply grabbing the shoulder of my gi between two fingers and moving me in a circular motion.  With no effort he was able to make me take a roll.

The one thing you have to be aware of is allowing uke to drop down.  The second uke's hips go back or uke bends at the waist the possibility of sticking their foot becomes much harder.  Why is this?  When uke's body is stretched out you don't have the ability to compensate for motion.  You can't involve your hips, knees, abdomen to soak up motion.  This is why you want to move uke in an upward direction.

The same thing translates to a lot of techniques.  I can absorb a lot of nikkyo by making micro adjustments in my posture.  I do it subconsciously most of the time.  Matt discovered if he did nikkyo from a little further away it locked my frame and I was unable to use my hips, knees, core, to suck up movement.

The effect is interesting.  You don't feel off balance until it's too late.  The hard part is being sensitive enough as nage to produce that effect in uke.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I Felt Some Intent

Too often there is a guy in class on Sunday that starts a technique and stops just before finishing it.  He considers it mean/rude to actually throw someone.  This is a ridiculous attitude.  Without intent, the practice can get watered down to ineffectiveness.  For whatever reason, the first technique of the morning he actually finished a technique.  It was great.  Not that it was 100% correct but I could feel the intent.  This is much different.  Then as class went on I felt some of that intent disappear.

By the end of class he was doing half techniques again.

After class I commented in a positive manner to him how nice I thought he was doing in the beginning of class.  That I could feel his intent.  It was his thought that he was just being sloppy at the beginning of class.

I'd take sloppy any day.

Class consisted of mostly kaeshi-waza (reversals).  Peter is always doing something fun.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Seminar Class

After Matt goes to a seminar he invariably will try to impart what he learned there.  He was there Saturday.

He covered a bunch of stuff done at the seminar.  I wish I had more time to noodle around with them.  I'm hoping he does more of it next Monday.

If nothing else this class I finally understand something about making uke's grip the pivot point for two handed grabs.  I was for the most part doing it correctly through muscle memory but I didn't understand the concept of why it worked.  Now that I get it, I can apply it correctly under different conditions (different entrys).

Monday, June 16, 2014

Went to a Seminar

This weekend I went to a seminar on Sunday morning.  Donovan Waite Shihan held classes at New England Aikikai.

Although it was a pretty tame class (no big throws), it was still a great class.  He was focused on this entry where you step in on the open side, bringing uke's opposite hand across.  We then finished up with a couple different techniques.  Variations of kaitenage and so forth.

Another technique was the same entry.  Could be katatetori attack.  Bring hand in front of uke same as before.  You step in with the outside(back foot) as you are doing so.    Start a kaitenage like motion bringing the arm down as you take a step behind uke, keeping the connecting hand low, gather the head to your center for a pivot and throw.  Uke ends up continuing to move in the same direction they attacked.

My biggest problem was figuring out how to do that initial entry if uke is resisting.  I worked with one guy who was trying to help me but I couldn't figure out if I was occasionally successful because I was doing things right once in a while or because my uke was trying to teach me and stopped resisting when he felt it should be working.  I've come across people like that in the past.  They resist until you are doing it 'their' way and then they let the technique work.  I'm not sure if he was doing this but I highly suspect so.  Anyway, it was nice of him to try to help.

At one point the instructor was giving me a correction.  First time I'd ever seen this approach, he liked to do corrections by having the student do the technique and he would physically move your arm or hand to help you understand what it is you are doing wrong.  In a good number of years of training I've never seen anyone take this approach.

A couple of other things I saw that were interesting.  Ukemi.  There were a couple of people who had the most amazing ukemi.  When I first walked into the dojo, there was as a student/teacher who works at the dojo a good deal of the time.  A very young guy and I apologize if I get this wrong but the guy looked about 18 to me.  We spoke for a short while about the seminar I missed the day before and had me grab him so he could show me a technique.  Then he suggested I try.  It was a ryotetori attack, one hand moves across so that uke is turned.  the other hand comes around on top and does a kaitenage, or kokyunage or whatever.  What was remarkable was his ukemi.  He was extremely responsive and blended with me perfectly.  It was like moving a feather.

After class I saw him and a couple of others doing soft breakfalls.  I've seen these before but not for some time.  Makes me want to try them again.

I could learn a lot from a partner like that.

So I had a blast at the seminar.  Was the first time I was worked out like that in a long while.  It was something like two and a half hours straight through without a break.  For the rest of the day I was sucking down water like crazy.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday the 13th

It's customary at Shodokan to have a special class on Friday the 13th.  Actually, I didn't even realize it was the 13th until I got to the dojo.

So the class usually has the theme "When things go wrong".  When uke grabs in a non-traditional manner or when a technique doesn't work or when there is resistance and you have to change to a different technique.

This class was somewhat frustrating.  I saw a demonstration where the teacher clearly finished a technique with an open stance.  Yet when practicing, was told to do a full tenkan instead.  Usually when this happens I just ignore it and attempt to do what is desired. 

Tonight there was a ton of this kind of thing though.

I saw another technique shown unintentionally 4 different ways which left me with enough confusion as to wonder which version I should be working on.  Then I was given a correction for something I was doing fine except that my partner and I didn't realize he wanted us to use a particular attack.  I have no problem with corrections but it's tough to follow when things are done 4 different ways.  Heck, there was even one time where I was told to put a hand in one place and when shown was showed with the hand in a different place.

One good thing about the class was that I saw Ariel.  He hasn't shown up for a class in a while.  Looks like he's starting back up again.  Very interesting partner to work with.  Very tall, skinny build.  He was doing fine although I had to prod him to attack me properly.  We were doing a shomen attack and he was bringing his arm down and stopping it in midstrike such that it couldn't have even hit me if I stood still.  I asked him to attack properly.  After a couple of requests he started attacking with a little more zeal.

The other thing we played with was a version of ikkyo.  At this point I'm not a big believer in this flavor.  I had a large uke for this who is very inflexible.  I was asked to keep the wrist higher than the elbow for the finishing position.  My uke was incapable of bending over.  He just doesn't have the flexibility.  So to avoid hurting him(he's in his 60's) I didn't put him all the way down.  I got a correction for this.

Anyway.... the ikkyo.  I think I've been shown how to do it another way which requires no muscle and doesn't give uke a chance to push back if he is inflexible.  I still like that one better than the one shown tonight.

To top it off we were supposed to be doing a particular technique.  My partner wasn't getting up from a bent over position and as a result I couldn't easily complete the technique.  I was left with a few options.  I asked him to stand as if it were a real attack as he wouldn't stay bent over in a real conflict(I could just beat his head in).  He still wouldn't stand for me.... so using my hips I moved him one direction, past my center and then the other taking him to the ground and completing the technique.  Once again I was receiving a correction for this.  The reality is that the technique presumes that uke wants to stand up and not stay bent over in front of an opponent.  No way to do the technique properly if uke isn't doing his job.

I get corrections in class once in a while and have no problem with it.  However, the bulk of tonight was either my uke not doing his job(acting in a "realistic" manner) or seeing inconsistent demo's that alter every time they are showed.  Freaking frustrating as hell.

Combined with the assault of cigar smoke in the dojo when I first came in, it amounted to a most unpleasant class.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Was That Aikido?

On Monday nights I visit the North Shore Aikikai dojo.  For quite some time now they've stopped doing 'typical' techniques and instead have been working on exploring kazushi and aiki principles.

In the beginning, I didn't find it particularly enjoyable and since Matt seemed to be the one starting this exploration I referred to it as Matt-kido (90% of which seems to be wrist grabs).  However, over time I started to understand what it is they are playing with.

One of the exercises we practiced....   offer left hand.  Slide right foot to the left to take you off the line.  left hand I believe is palm down and is brought in and down to your center as you are moving.  The effect of this is to plant uke's front foot.  Once the foot is stuck, you are bringing uke around.  As uke is coming around you slide in a little on the right foot and put your right hand over the shoulder on to uke's back.  Turning to your right side, uke falls past you.  Right hand dragging uke along.  Left hand can go to the hip for a hip bump as they pass by.

There is a ton of timing involved for this technique.  You have to get the timing correct so uke's foot is planted and then you bring him around.  Timing has to be right for uke to catch up to you as they come around.  Timing right to enter and help uke continue his path forward.  It's very fiddly.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Another Almost Night

There are some Friday nights in the summer that the Friday night class isn't well attended.  My attitude is always that if even there is one person around I will get on the mat and either take a class or use the free mat time if the instructor isn't teaching that night.

We have one or two students who look to run out if there isn't going to be an official class.  The crazy thing is that they are a couple of 1st kyus.

I was hung up and couldn't make it in.  Most of the time when this happens I try to call but I didn't this time.  I got to the dojo pretty late and class wasn't running.  My arrival forced the issue and we ended up having a class.

I really don't understand the attitude.  It's not like you are a dan with years of experience and need a night off.  Why is it you'd blow off a class as often as possible?  This isn't an isolated event.  This one guy bails as often as possible.

I don't get it.

Saw Someone Caught Napping On Their Ukemi

One of our senior students is a police officer.  Working with him is fun because he tends to use the more practical aspects of aikido.  At times he applies a lot of strength to his techniques.  There is one thing you have to watch out for when you practice with him.  His shihonage.  He tends to get shihonage and then pulls it around in front of his center in a 45 circle.  So, to take ukemi for this you really have to keep moving.  You can't breakfall out of it easily because he's simply dragging you around.  It's pretty effective and devastating to someone who isn't ready for it.

A couple weeks back I saw a high ranking person take ukemi for him for this and didn't know about his habit.  He wasn't sensitive enough to keep moving.  As a result, he had his arm torqued pretty badly.  Uke let out a yelp.  Since nage was doing this in one sweeping motion there was no thought on his part to lighten up the throw.

A long while back(maybe last year) I spoke to this student about how he performs that technique.  Told him that he needs to be aware of what he is doing and how uke is responding.  While I and others that see a lot of him can handle the ukemi because we know what's coming, a stranger at a seminar or a newbie isn't going to know to follow that.

He understood that I wasn't saying what he was doing was bad..... just that it could be hard on uke and he should be mindful of what he is doing.  He thanked me for the observation.  Said he didn't think much about it but ya..... I was right.  At this point it's a habit for him.  I still don't think he's mindful of it.

At least it's effective.