Friday, December 19, 2014

Everyone Did a Good Job

We had three testers tonight.  Turns out I didn't have to uke for anyone tonight.  I was called up to uke for Tony's freestyle though.  It was more controlled than I thought but despite my best efforts I took a couple of tough falls.  The first one had me land flat on my back.  Knocked a little wind out of me but not too bad.  I was relaxed for it so I came away feeling fine.  I have no idea what he did to put me there but it was fast and went straight down.  Another throw was a little better for me(he did a reap) although I guess my ukemi looked bad.  Someone thought I nailed my shoulder.  If I did, I don't remember it.  Not enough of an impact to bother me.  The last big throw I had to take, Tony was setting me up for a shihonage, but given his tendencies I wanted to keep myself safe and connected my head to my arm so I could breakfall.  It was a little tricky as I was right next to a wall.  Not much room.  I kept the ukemi tight and landed with room to spare.

Tony's test itself was interesting.  He did well enough.  A good amount of variations.  He sprinkled in koshinage of course all throughout the test.  He was tossing Chris around.  Very entertaining.  I think Chris could have made life easier on himself if he relaxed more for the throws.

The other 1st kyu test was done by Ariel.  Ariel's aikido is generally relaxed.  His freestyle looked relaxed.  There wasn't much dumping people in the way of other people.  He did move around real well but often times he wasn't entering or doing a technique.  Just deflecting the attacking and moving to a good position.  Not a bad thing but unless you throw someone they are going to be all over you.  His test also looked great.

My favorite test though has to be the 5th kyu test.  I saw lots of little stuff here and there but for the most part it was a great 5th kyu test.

We had a visitor today.  Someone wanted to start at our dojo came by to watch the test.  Must have been very interesting for him.  His comment at the end was that he was very excited to start and that he had a lot to learn.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Dogs Name Was Indiana

There is a test scheduled for Friday this week.  One of the testers is the beginner I mentioned in an earlier post.  I'll likely be his uke for the test.  The guy who originally volunteered, really has somewhere else to be.  The instructor suggested we go over the test at the end of class.  While we are running through it there are two experienced students watching and constantly offering corrections.  Too many in my mind.  I hinted that they were giving too many corrections.  I think my hint was lost on them.

Overall he was doing a lot of things really well for a 5th kyu test.  If it were just the two of us in the corner I might have mentioned one or two things at most to tweak and let him just practice.  When you give someone 20 corrections from the peanut gallery it isn't helpful at this stage.  It's hard enough remembering the techniques when you are starting out. 

Perhaps some people would disagree.  If someone develops muscle memory for a mistake then it's all the more difficult to make adjustments.  I get that but I think there is a good balance there between corrections and letting someone just do repetitions.  Isn't that what they mean by "polishing".

The beginner is catching on fast.  I know he is watching me.  At one point I altered my position when he came in for a grab because I didn't like where he was grabbing.  By moving the target, he was forced to lean forward a little when I started my technique.  He noticed this.  Since I know he's watching, I try to make the techniques as plain as day.  I do turnovers like he would be doing on a test rather than other variations of turnovers.  etc.

For some reason he came in really fast for one attack.  Without thinking I sped up to blend and match his speed but I slowed it down right before the throw.  I'm unsure if his ukemi was up to it.  I'd rather err on the side of keeping him safe.  The more I work with him the better feel I'll get for where he is at for ukemi.

One of the other testers is an old time judo guy Tony.  He's going for his 1st kyu.  He's grabbing Chris for a partner.  Interesting match up.  Chris is always a little nervous around Tony (understandably so).  Often times in practice when Tony loses track of things he just responds with a judo throw.  If you're not ready for it, or on your toes ukemi-wise, it can be a bad situation.  I've worked with him for so long that I know that if the throw is udekiminage ura, you have a good chance he will just turn it into ippon seionage.  Heck there was one week that he started the seionage throw, rotated and threw me the other way.  That meant that mid air I had to change direction of my fall.  Although a surprise, it was actually fun for me.

This week, Tony finally did something that freaked me out a little.  We were doing shihonage and he decides to reap me.  Now.... the reap wasn't the problem.  The problem was that he had my arm extended way out in an unsafe manner for that kind of fall.  When he reaped, he did not let go of the shihonage.  It really sucked as uke.  If he did that to someone more tight in the shoulders he could have injured someone.  Worst still was he actually got some encouragement from someone suggesting he do it more.  This time I made sure I was in a position to breakfall and didn't let my arm come away.  I was a lot more active in my ukemi for the next couple throws.

Here is a funny comment.  This morning in class, Peter asks if there is any part of the test he'd like to go over.  Tony says, he'd like to practice the 5 koshinage.  Everyone in class including Peter just smiles and can barely stop from laughing.  Tony is a koshinage machine.  His timing is freaking perfect.  He doesn't need uke's cooperation.  You can be standing there, just static.  He comes in so low and so smooth, you just go right over him.  I love his koshi.  What he didn't realize is that for the test you need only do 5 koshinage from different attacks.  Since he can do it in his sleep, this isn't part of the test he should concern himself with.  So this morning we practiced other parts of the 1st kyu test.

Buddy showed up for this mornings class.  You can tell by the abrasions on my arm.  :)
Buddy was trying to grab me for a technique so hard that he scraped a bit of skin off my arm.  I really don't mind it actually.  No one has done that in a while.

Buddy has to use aikido in his job once in a while and treats every throw as life or death.  So, he tends to use a lot of muscle in his techniques.  For some of them, he just puts you right down on the ground immediately.  He did a couple this morning that felt great.  A couple others were not so good.  Buddy wants to know when something isn't working so he wants some resistance.  I gave him some this morning.  Unfair to him since I know exactly what is being done to my body and know which way to move but he wants this.  So, there were a few techniques that he couldn't complete.  He tends to do the same thing for me as well.

There is a problem though.  He resists so stiffly, that the ukemi is really rough on him.  I do my best to keep him safe but it's tough when someone is that stiff.

One of the exchanges was funny.  He pulled an Indiana Jones on me.  I had a tanto and his disarm failed.  He took a step back, drew his imaginary firearm and fired center mass all in one practiced motion.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Always Fun to Work With a Beginner

Including myself only three students showed tonight.  Friday night used to be a big night but it seems like a lot of people are too busy to come.

One of the three of us is a relative beginner.  We worked a bit on his 5th kyu test.  I had to really think back on some of it to remember how to do the test technique variations for that test.

I think it would definitely help to do a bunch of this with him.

Overall he does ok.  The second student I think was giving him too much resistance and trying to correct him too often.  I saw two things wrong with that.

Too many corrections too early is bad.  Sensei was paying gobs of attention to us as we practiced.  When he saw something wrong he wanted to correct he'd mention it.  Some times you have to let the beginners make several mistakes.  You fix one and a couple classes later you fix another.  If you try to make them do it perfect from day one, they'll never develop the muscle memory.  Bob was teaching and is fairly reasonable when it comes to this stuff.  The other student however was teaching a little too much in my mind.  He was helping too much.

The second thing was that the fellow student's corrections were phrased in an unclear manner.  For example, we were doing shomenuchi ikkyo.  The beginner student was waiting too long and letting the attack develop too far.  Instead of stressing a better entry or suggesting nage be more extended, he commented to the student that he should have his hands higher.  This would effectively do the same thing but isn't clear to the student why he's doing it.  Then Bob stepped in and made it clear.

The beginner had nice pins overall when he did them correctly.  His kotagaeshi needs a little more work then other things.  Often times he would just bend fingers which does nothing to the wrist joint.  There was other stuff too but he'll get better over time.  He just needs mat time.

At the end of class we did some suwari waza kokyu ho.  I hadn't gotten to work with Bob on this in like 9 years.  So it was nice to get a hold of him.  I always liked his kokyuho.  He helped me out and made me aware of some things that I could improve on.  This alone made it a great class.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Where Is Your Hole?

Went to NSA Monday night.  The focus over there has been a lot of softer aikido.  Getting uke to fall "into his hole".  There is a way to move uke such that you alter his balance or force him to take a step that will set them up for falling.

We've been experimenting with a series of "throws" that follow this principle.  Is it practical aikido?  No idea.  For now, I'm just trying to understand the body positioning well enough to make things work.

Class was relatively light Monday night but we were doing several soft flavors of techniques.

One of the things commented on was that I tend to have a dead spot for a tenkan-irimi pull the arm around.  Usually, I would tenkan and pull uke around as I move back.  A suggestion was made that I keep contact with uke by using both hands.  Feed contact from one hand to the other as I pull around.  I still need to work with this more before I make a judgment on the thought.

The theory was that my lack of contact give uke a moment to step away and disengage from me for the technique.  A very valid concern.  The thing I'm wondering about though is that if I maintain contact that strongly, will I be giving uke something to push against or panic that something is happening.  By keeping the contact light I was not exerting influence until I need them to come around(which they would presumably want to do anyway).  Tough call.... I'll have to monkey around with it before I make some kind of decision.(after years go by I will likely change my thought on this 3 times).

At the end of class, Matt pulled a bit of strangeness out of nowhere.  He somehow had me jacked up(almost on my toes) in a funny way before letting me go.  You fall and have to take a roll but you don't know what the hell is happening.  Even me with years of aikido practice and a reasonable amount of body awareness felt confused.  Before I got to explore this coolness we moved on to something else.  Dang.

Great Sunday Class

The past couple of Sunday classes, Peter has us doing the 31 jo kata as part of class.  Since we don't do much weapons work in either dojo, I haven't quite picked up on it yet.  I have a few rough spots still.  If we keep practicing it I'm sure it will start to gel.  In the beginning my biggest problem was fighting muscle memory for a shorter kata we used to practice long ago.

Can't remember what we did in class for the most part right now.  I remember doing some variations of techniques.  I just remember having fun.