Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Where Does He See This Stuff?

Matt taught last night.  For most of the class we worked on getting a particular bit of off-balancing to work.  It evolved a bit and by the end of class it looked pretty good.  I even managed to do it maybe once.  I think I could actually get this to work consistently with a little more work.

The beginning part is less important but you end up with your left arm on top of ukes right arm.  You need to keep your wrist down.  If you push in a little towards uke you end up getting some back pressure which helps make this work.  Once you have some back pressure you can turn hand/wrist/arm so that you are going from palm down to palm up.  At the same time you are using your center to move everything down some.  Your arm should not slide across uke's arm.  Instead the back pressure allows you to make a connection inside the elbow and move uke.

The next step is to make a circle like motion with your shoulder while turning towards uke.  It's seem to work better for me when I got my hip involved as well.

All of this insanity results in a sumiotoshi-like drop for uke.


There may be a new guy starting on Wednesday.  I teased Matt and suggested he do some 'normal' Aikido that night.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Aiki Principles

So Matt taught over at North Shore Aikikai last night.  He had us working on some exercises that were very interesting.  You wouldn't want to do any of these things on the street but this is studying building blocks.

Some of them I worked on and was still noodling around with them.  There were one or two that I thought I had done pretty well.  Then Matt or Rob would come over and show a variation.  I tried doing the new way.

An example of one was offering both hands.  The business hand was palm up.  The other hand was offered more palm down but doesn't matter as much.  You make a connection with uke as he comes in, blending back a bit with the grab.  The foot work has you move in front of uke and throw uke on the same side as the palm up hand.  The hands make the connection, and keep pushing uke in the direction of the attack.  I noticed a lot of people throwing down, perhaps to aim people for the hole.  However, I liked the throw out.  Throughout the practice I was treated with a great view of people's kidneys.  Had plenty of time to strike too.  Like I said.... not a technique as it was shown.... but a cool exercise.

The variation of this one was more fun for me.  It was the same attack, the same blending as uke comes in.  then you do a sort of j-step to turn uke and send them back the direction they came.  Huge timing/blending exercise.

Somewhere in the middle of this class I was asked to try and effect an ikkyo a little earlier than I was.  So I realized what angle and movement I needed to do that.  I saw it in my head and was able to make it happen.  As with other exercises it was a matter of lining up my arm a certain way to get the effect I wanted.  My partner was instantly affected.  That felt really good.  Now that I've seen this, I'm wondering if I can use it again for other techniques.

So a mixed bag of practice as usual.  Things generally felt good.  It wasn't a frustrating class or anything.  Just spending time trying to figure things out.

At the end of class Rob showed me something cool.  It was a ryotetori attack again.  The hand in front of the back foot was used to create a tiny but abrupt ikkyo.  As soon as you grab nage you would feel yourself instantly turned.  Very cool.  I was psyched I noticed that he did that with the "wrong" hand.  Often the forward hand over the forward foot would be the one that does most of the work.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Whoa..... That's My Arm

Sunday class was four of us.  Tony and I and the two beginners.  I'm continually amazed at how fast they can pick certain things up.  If they seem to be improving I pretty much leave them alone.  Peter was on top of them for corrections anyway.

The biggest concerns I had as usual were safety.  David is quite good at remembering stuff.  The scary thing is he's doing Shihonage very much like I did it when I first started out.  He does it very quickly.  I think we were told early on to do it that way for some reason.  The problem is.... on one side, David takes the shihonage way out wide.  Made me nervous as hell.  So I showed him the difference between doing a close shihonage and one where the arm is stretched out.  I wanted to make sure he knew which one he was doing and what the effect on uke is.  If he pulled someone else out as far as he pulled my arm, some people could get hurt.  I have fairly loose shoulders so I was ok but not everyone is built like that.

The other thing I commented on had to do with how Pete was taking ukemi.  I wanted him to do a proper roll so he doesn't break a wrist.

After class he asked me to work with him some on a couple things.

One technique that Pete started doing real well had me really moving for ukemi.  It was excellent.  Very simple, tsuki, deflect punch, grab sleeve(or stay sticky) pivot and throw.  he started doing the technique really well.  Had my balance the whole time.

As for ukemi, we practiced some standard forward rolls.  Actually he has a nice forward minimalist roll.  He starts the roll on the upper arm/shoulder and tucks into a ball.  He complained that he sometimes feels as though there is too much energy for him to dissipate.  I told him that the tiny roll he is doing is excellent but he needs to learn also how to take a longer roll.  It gives you more time to make adjustments and can absorb energy better.  By the end he had managed a few rolls where he started from his fingertips and rolled to his opposite hip.  So he now knows what it's supposed to feel like.  He has a tendency to try and throw his rolling arm sideways which means a barrel roll for most people.  Somehow he keeps it under control.  Part of my working with him was to focus straight ahead.  Took a page from Jim's forward rolling lesson.  I also passed along an old Matt suggestion I had gotten and had him pushing off his back foot to help get some momentum going.
He still isn't coming up wit live toes very often but I already gave him enough to think about for rolling.  We'll get the live toes down in another week or two.

Monday Night Playing With a Stick

Rob wasn't around for class so Matt decided to do a Jo night.  We had varying degrees of success.  Some of it wasn't too bad.  I was able to make some adjustments and improve.  There was one thing we did at the end that required a specific move where you basically make a circle with the jo to control your opponents jo and slide in.  I was quite hesitant because I didn't want to hurt Roger.  He kept his fingers in the wrong place all the time.  Matt encouraged me to not worry so much.  Sure enough I ran the jo over his fingers and his response immediately improved.

There wasn't a big change of breaking fingers or anything.  t would just suck to have your hand there at the wrong time.

After my horrible display at jo work Matt went to some empty hand techniques.  The only one that really stuck out in my mind is the last one.  Hamni handache.  You're just doing a kokyunage.  Offer both hands, bring uke forward with you, turn and throw.  No problem.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Much Improved

Had a great class with Peter teaching this morning.  We had two of the beginners join us.  David from last week came again and Pete.

David was way improved this week.  Not sure if it was the techniques Peter chose or that David is just getting better but he was actually there today.  I could feel him as he did his techniques.  In fact at one point we were doing a variation of sumi otoshi and although David did a different variation from what was being taught, it was excellent.  I definitely felt a dramatic improvement over last week.  I suspect he's still too tentative on controls but it was nice to see that this problem wasn't with other techniques.

Pete was interesting.  Really in-shape taller guy.  Reasonably flexible.  His aikido was more typical of what I see.  Usual confusion about where the hands/feet go.  He was improving through repetitions.  Some of his best aikido came when he smoothed things out.  He was really gung ho.  He wanted me to go faster.  I went a little faster but still kept it within his ability to respond.  No way am I hurting someone because they think they are ready.

It was a pleasure to work with some newer people.  Hopefully I'll get some one on one time with them for their ukemi.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hulk Smash

Went to class Friday night.  Chris ran a class.  He actually picked a bunch of very interesting techniques.

I was a little more forward with feedback in this class with my partners than I usually am.  There weren't many of us in class but the experience level was quite different.  Dave's aikido hasn't changed much since I worked with him last.  I always feel like I'm being mugged when he does a technique.  There is a lot of pushing.  Whenever he did a technique I felt like I had something I could/wanted to push against.  He often was using strength to make things work.

There was one technique that was basically an iriminage.  Punch to the face, nage enters and makes a connection with the same side (right on right)push uke's wrist out and down as you pivot.  As uke starts to stand up, pivot the other want and do the iriminage.

Dave did a pretty genuine attack and I reacted quickly doing the technique.  It took no strength at all because all I did was lead him down and put him back into his hole behind him as I pivoted.

For this one, Dave was using his other hand to push down on my neck.  when I came up he continued to push.  Felt like I was doing aikido with a troll.  That guy is strong.  Wish he'd focus on kazushi more.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

I Felt Absolutely Nothing

So this morning we had a newer person show up for Sunday class.  I hope he comes more often.  He's pretty young.  I think he started almost a year ago.  He's very quick to learn and remember something overall.  He may not understand the technique 100% but he will remember about where to put his feet and hands to do the technique.  His ukemi although still developing is good and very relaxed.  Even when put in an unexpected position he doesn't tighten up(Tony).

The most major issue I see is that he's not there.  Whether it be a control or a throw, he barely touches you.  A lot of newer folks don't get stuff right and normally you just take ukemi so they can learn.  They usually get some of the technique right.  More often than not you feel them using muscle.  But usually, you feel something.  Some effort to make the throw work.(or the control).

I got nothing from this kid.  I suspect it's happening because who he's been training with.  There may be something else going on as well but he's so quiet you can't figure out if there is another issue he's working through.

So although I took it easy on him for the class, I made sure he felt everything.  When we did a control, I did a proper control.  When we did a throw or technique, I went slow and let him experience what the technique is supposed to feel like.  I'm hoping he realizes that he needs to change what he's doing so he can be effective.

If I were his teacher I could help him but just being a fellow student in a regular class I tend to keep my suggestions to a minimum especially if the teacher has a small class and is actively looking at me and my partner.

I think the first question I'd ask him is why he's taking aikido and what is it that he wants to accomplish.  If I didn't get any unusual answers I'd work on his controls and get him to apply them instead of totally backing off.  After that I would try to get him to finish his throws.  He has zero intent.