Visited Aikido of Nassau County Last Week
My work had a company meeting this year. Hauled everyone in. Whenever I travel I try to visit other dojos. I was able to make it to two classes.
Training here was a truly interesting experience. They were being overly gentle with me. In all the dojo's I've ever visited they were more hands off with me than any other. They would do a technique, I would roll out and they would ask if I was ok. They were aware of my years of training. Not sure if it was the white belt that put them off (they use colored belt system) or perhaps they think of other aikikai dojos as gentle or something. Come to think of it I got that same impression from the other NY dojo I visited in the past. The other place told me they practice a hard style of aikido but it seemed like a normal class to me.
The guy that runs the place was old school budo. You have this old sensei on the mat who is faster than he looks. They took delight in beating on their brown belt student. Everything from pushing joint locks on him pretty hard and grabbing testicles as an atemi. Really street style aikido. They didn't do that kind of thing to other students. Just this one guy. I think they are prepping him for black belt soon. He is the young tackling dummy.
One thing I did notice from the techniques shown was that the dojo loves armbars. They would slap an armbar on the brown belt who would scream every time. I couldn't tell but I think he was overly sensitive to pain. While some of the controls do hurt, I've never seen anyone do a full throated scream on the mat before. While I do think they pushed the armbar hard, I think the student was just loud. He was obviously uninjured after he was released. He also didn't seem to tap much. His ukemi didn't look that good to me in that he didn't follow nage or move much to protect himself. He would just stand there if something was being done to him. His falls looked hard. He often would stand in place and not improve his position. I'm wondering if he was trained to do that to stay in the technique longer. At one point I had him set up for an uncomfortable throw but hesitated. The teacher said... he can take good ukemi and not to worry about him. So the student emitted his grunt of pain and took a hard fall.
The guy's ukemi seemed rough but his weapons were great. He was also pretty decent at teaching the weapons forms. He was very patient with me. One of the classes I went to was a weapons class. They started out with some jo kata. One of which I knew(with a minor variation) Others I didn't know at all. Then we did some paired bokken practice. They teacher would run through all the forms. The brown belt and I went off to the side and he was very patient with me. I think we got through 2 of them pretty well before the teacher called for something else. Then we did some paired jo practice. Again, only got through a few of them. One thing though. They really practice with intent at this dojo. I did my part and used my jo to cover my shin as part of the practice. The student struck with real intent and hit my jo. Had I not done that correctly, that would have left a mark. Of course, if I was not covering properly, I'm fairly sure my partner wouldn't have struck. He was paying attention and only giving me what I could handle for weapons practice.
Some of the things we did in the first class.....
They started out with a few hanmi handache techniques just to warm up. The easiest one was like doing the rowing exercise. Bring your hand up, as soon as they grab and contact is made, you draw your hand down.
Another technique was when they grab you keep your elbow down and draw your elbow across your center and then let your arm flop over in that direction.
Then I saw a kokyunage very similar to one done at a Donovan Waite seminar. Tai no henko kind of thing with you bringing your hand up at the end and down to throw.
Another had you turn your hand upside down and around in a shihonage like direction. Then you continue the wave motion up across you and then down. Your hand traces a path that looks like an s that is on its side.
A lot of those were easy and yet difficult. The most familiar technique during class was yokomen strike, start a shihonage, draw uke up, step in front, pivot, keep the inside leg up and reach up to the shoulder for a taiotoshi like throw. Outside leg goes down. Seemed very Matt like.
Did another technique. Moretetori attack. They come up on the opposite side for a one handed nikkyo and then throw.
Another technique was yokomen strike. Nage enters with both tegatana on ukes arm. Tries to push back and a little behind uke. Interesting part was that the teacher was very specific about not having extension. Arms are in with elbows down as you do this.
There was another familiar technique we did. I think it was moretetori as well. Can't remember the details much but what he did was lock ukes structure. Ukes elbow gets moved to his inside(towards the center). At this point you are pretty locked up. Then nage pushes into ukes center and down.
The end of class we did some simple kokyunage. That windmill throw you see on all the black belt test videos.