Sunday, January 28, 2018

Couple Classes and Today I Went to a Seminar

Monday night this week I went to North Shore Aikikai.  We worked on the usual strange stuff.  It was quite an interesting class.  Every time I go there they really challenge me to break down certain aspects of the things they are teaching.  On any given week I may have no success at all... or a lot.  This past class I felt like I had some good amount of success.

Friday night, Bob taught.  We worked on freestyle more.  This time we were limited to a couple techniques.  Bob asked an interesting question which was who thinks they can alter their ukemi mid way through.  I can so I raised my hand.  I didn't see anyone else very positive about it.  I find it odd.  Everyone in that class has more experience than I do.  I expected a couple of them would feel comfortable with that thought.  I guess not.

Today's seminar was at Boston Aikikai.  Donovan Waite Shihan taught.  We did a bunch of familiar techniques but done in a different way.  In a way these can be the hardest to do as you are fighting muscle memory.

A couple things taught were.....  a version of kaitenage that reminds me very much of my iriminage.  You cut ukes arm down in front of them so they go down, the hand that goes to the neck goes to the opposite side of the neck and pulls toward you as you pivot.  What this does is pull uke off balance and forces him to take a big step around.  Then you push at the hip for the finish.

Kokyunage.... verious ones.  tenkan in and pivot to finish.... an omote version where you stay in front....

Tenshinage - a couple version of this.... the most interesting was the throwing using the forward foot hand.  The other verison brought the earth hand in a little bit while the sky hand came up and over ukes shoulder.  The purpose behind this is to help draw uke in, and then you send uke back.  Really moves their center.

All great stuff.  The mat was pretty full.  Even when paired off into groups there wasn't much room to work with.

One thing I noticed this class though.... This is the first seminar where I was seeing more than I used to.  I had a lot less confusion about what was being shown.  Most times I was even able to get my body to do what it was supposed to do as well.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Yay Sunday Was Great

Of course.... I'm biased since I taught the class.  I was very happy to see a couple faces I don't see enough of on Sundays.  And.... We had a visitor float in.

Russ met him and managed to find a gi for him I think.  He explained to me that he was here for a class and Russ volunteered him to join us... but if that was a problem, he could play with the arnis folks.  I said... awesome... of course he can join us.

My initial impressions were of a relatively fit guy a little younger than me.  He said he used to do aikdio at an aikido club and that they did some judo and other stuff.

Just to get an idea what I was dealing with I made sure to do some ukemi after stretching so I could watch him.  That right there often will give you an idea of where they are at.

We started off with a back stretch.  Then I moved us to tsuki iriminage (direct version where you deflect the strike and go straight in).

Other things we did.... Tsuki sumiotoshi,  katatori nikkyo, kata hiki otoshi, ikkyo, kokyunage....etc.

I kept switching the pace of the class around.  Sometimes slowing it down to give people breaks.  The new guy had lots of difficulty with anything big and flowy.  For some of those, he sat through them. 

I felt like I had a good class because I had a whole bunch of different levels in the class and everyone seemed to be enjoying it.  At one point I had Chris and Buddy switch to something else while everyone else did the more basic techniques.  Instead of iriminage, I had them enter and get behind uke and push into the inside of the elbow and shoulder to structure them.  They were both digging it.

In the dressing room Buddy showed me something he saw during class that was interesting.  Never saw it before.  You do a shomenuchi attack.  Nage enters like he would for an iriminage, then, he controls the right arm with his right arm and his left with his left.  Sort  of was a kokyunage like thing except nage is behind uke.

I may have to play with that.

Movement Practice

Friday night Bob had us focus on our freestyle practice.  We had a few run turns each.  My second run through I managed to get people all lined up nicely and worked them one by one.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Went To Peter's Class

Hit Shodokan on Tuesday night.  Peter did an awesome class.  Had us doing some controls.... some throws.  We did seoi otoshi.  Partners shifted around so it was cool to work with the different body types.

Buddy came to this class.  He's fairly sensitive and can feel nage/uke fairly well.  He looks at me and says.... you feel like I have a solid center.  I responded with.... I am filled with "nugat and peanuts".    Anyway..... not sure anyone else feels that when working with me.

After class a couple of the people complained about stiff necks and so forth after class.  I felt great.  This is all because of how they take ukemi.

Sunday Switched Gears

It was just Chris and I on Sunday.  So I started us off with an aiki principle thing.  I think he likes those because he doesn't see much of it.

All I wanted to do was show that if we have a hand grab... and we take the slack out of the arm by moving back a little(just shifting weight).   You can then cut palm up across uke's face height.  No more than shoulder to shoulder.  And uke will be turned away from you as if you had the start of a shihonage on them.  We were noodling around with that until Ryan showed up.

Ryan's aikido is very direct and uses a lot of muscle.  Being in excellent physical shape makes that easy for him.  I let him attempt the technique we were doing for a while.... then I changed course.

Ryan likes more direct and what he perceives as more 'useful' aikido.  The interesting thing is he believes in kazushi but usually gets it via force at the moment.  So.. a while back I had Peter in my class.  I know they work together and Peter recently surprised me with some very nice ukemi.  So I wanted to see where Ryan was.  He's a high ranking kyu.

So I had us doing kotagaeshi from all kinds of attacks and suggested he show me breakfalls.  Not once during the entire class did I see him do a breakfall..... so at the end of class I asked him to show me one.  He wanted to pull out the crash mat (a thick extra soft mat) and tried one and I instantly understood.  He's not comfortable doing those falls yet.  He said no one was really stressing or trying to teach him that.  I told him if he comes on Sunday's we can work on it together.  I had no idea.  The reason Peter's ukemi improved is because he was uke for Ryan and was getting thrown a lot.

Makes me want to hold ukemi classes for a while.  These guys really need to learn to keep themselves safe.

Yep Another Week

There was a Monday class at North Shore Aikido where I was presented with some interesting aiki principles.  Later Matt sent me a video on it.  I just thought of something.... maybe i should look at the video's before class so I can get an idea of what's going on.   Anyway.... it was a good class.  I remember seeing one aspect where uke is dropped down and I couldn't help but wonder if that was through uke cooperation or the technique.  Usually I see what''s going on but I didn't see this.  And at the point I asked about that, I hadn't felt it yet.  Seems like if it's done right it definitely can dump uke down.

Friday night there were just a few of us, Bob taught class.  He made mention of a possible demo in the future.  I'm not 100% committed to this as yet.  I definitely want to help and get more students in.  This could help.  However, the purpose of the demo is to get students in.  I'm going to give what feedback I can to help things along.  What I'm concerned about is that if we do a demo that only we can appreciate that anyone watching won't be impressed.  Centering a demo around a flowery idea is nice but doesn't get you students.  Still.... the whole concept is a good one and deserves support.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Wow.... -4 degrees For Class

So... I wasn't really expecting anyone to come to class because it was so cold.  Sunday morning when I left my house it was -4 degrees.  Because......

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night......

Oh... wrong one..... err... maybe....

In brightest day, in blackest night,  No evil shall escape my sight....

Oh that isn't it either....

Ok... I don't think there is an oath... but regardless of the weather I always try to make it to class.

I was shocked to see anyone arrive.  I know the arnis class cancelled.  Turned out that Chris K showed up.  He's usually pretty consistent.  So we kept things informal and had an open mat practice more than a class.  I abused him with the version of ikkyo that I was trying to show Chris M. on Wednesday.  

It was hard for Chris to pick up.  You need to enter as you do this and it's too easy to throw an arm up and try to duck instead.  Hard habits to break. 

What really got my juices going was that Chris wanted to work on nikkyo.  I got him to apply some real nice nikkyo's.  We talked about how to line things up and a lot of the common mistakes.  I really saw Chris digging into it.  Nice to see him do the learning process thing.  When you've been doing aikido as long as he has, it's easy to just go through the motions.  Much harder to really look at what you are doing.

If he can practice that more and develop the muscle memory, he'll be crushing people every time.  It was fantastic.

Friday Night Snowstorm!

Ya... didn't make it to class Friday night.  I was trying to clear snow in 11 degree weather(colder with wind chill) for many hours.  When I finished and came in I realized I was already late to class.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Wednesday Night Class

The past couple weeks has been holidays and weather and a rash of cancelled classes.  So I really wanted to practice last night.  Went to get to class, realized I was going to be a few minutes late when I hit bad traffic so I called the dojo.  Turns out everyone was calling in to say they weren't coming.  The only other person there was Chris M. who was covering for Joanna.  Mulligan told me that Chris was chomping at the bit to leave.  He among others in that dojo tend to blow off practice a little too readily.  Drives me nuts.  No idea why you'd ever want to skip a class just because there are two people.  I've taught classes where there was one student.

I told Mulligan I was coming anyway,  If Chris leaves then I'll just say hello to him since I was 5 minutes from the dojo anyway.  Plus I was hoping one of the regulars such as Chris K or Tony might show.  They are always up for practice.

Turns out that Chris waited for me and was willing to practice.  I was very grateful he stayed and let me get a practice in.

So we are keeping it informal and doing stuff.  I asked Chris if he wanted to try something different.  He said sure.  So I showed him a version of ikkyo where you enter, bring your hands up through your center, make contact early with uke and guide the shomen strike in, sort of above your head.  The effect for uke is that you feel a little off balanced forward and your hand your striking with doesn't actually hit anything.  Instead, it feels like you hit a pillow.  The energy just goes out of the strike.  In truth you are redirecting the energy of the strike and turning it into ikkyo.

Chris didn't really see it.  From his point of view he saw it as a late reaction with the strike allowing to come close to the head.  He just wasn't getting it.  I was about to explain further by having him strike me harder when Sam(kendo instructor) comes on the mat.  Sam knows a lot of stuff.  A LOT!

He looked at it briefly and immediately dismissed it before I could explain anything about it.  And... immediately started teaching his way of doing ikkyo.  Now... what he showed absolutely works.  But I think the other ikkyo works too.  I wish I had an opportunity to get into it more with him,  However, I didn't want to interrupt him.  I wanted to see what he was going to come up with.  Guess I'd rather learn someone else's style than to try to make a point.  Still... if he feels there is a hole in the technique when done that way then I sure would like to know about it.(he never got to feel it by having me do it to him)  The simple answer to this questions may be that I abuse everyone on Sunday with this technique and explore it more.

For the entire practice I could feel Chris putting muscle into every strike and not quite keeping up with his ukemi.  After class he said... don't you feel like everything hurts after class?

As a matter of fact.... no.   I don't.  Nor did I feel bad the next morning even though we pushed each other's joints pretty hard last night.

But I'm not the one using muscle in class.

Much Time Has Passed

All kinds of classes since I last wrote an entry.  One of which was back at Aikido Of Queens.  I was in New York and I always try to take a gi with me when i travel.  Last time I was in NY I practiced with Aikido of Nassau County.  I decided to go back to a class at Aikido of Queens because I hadn't seen them in probably four years.

Class there is much different than around here.  They start with calisthenics type stuff.  Push ups, stomach crunches, squats...etc.   Almost healthy like stuff... Disgusting.  If I did that more often maybe I'd actually be in shape.  That much didn't change from my last visit.  Not surprisingly, there wasn't a single familiar face.  Sensei Walzter was not around this time.  I got to meet him last time.  There was a black belt there to teach the class.  Don't recall his name much.  I got the usual spiel about them being centered around "practical", direct  aikido and self defense.  One of the more interesting things they were doing was some kind of kung fu like motion to get up from the floor where you sort of helicopter your legs.  Very similar to this...

I watched this carefully.... then asked them to do it once more for me so I could see it again.  Then, I was actually able to do it fine my first time through.... we did all right sides.... Then we did the left sides in which I was incapable of doing them right away.

Getting up from this position we usually aren't static and we use whatever energy exists from a throw to continue the motion and redirect it so that you just get up using the energy.  They are practicing their ukemi from a dead stop.  Much harder to get moving.

I noticed other differences.  They do an attack we don't practice much.  If we practice against a roundhouse punch it's usually to the face.  One of their attacks they like to do is a roundhouse to the body.  And... it's an exaggerated one with a really wide swing.

Once of the exercises was an evading practice where uke strikes and nage just needs to move out of the way.  That was fine.  They did some techniques such as udekiminage, ikkyo, iriminage and so forth.  The teacher had things kept simple.  There were 4 really new people (white/yellow belts) and one older guy who was a blue belt.  For them that's a mid-level belt but he felt to me like he'd been practicing about 6-12 months.  He was good but wasn't moving fast enough with his ukemi.  I had to make sure I didn't hurt him.

The iriminage had some differences but one thing they focused on was taking balance by bringing the arm out and down.  They may not be calling it that or thinking about it but it's what makes their variant of the technique work.

Interesting thing was that the sensei for the class never once laid hands on me.... even to show me something.  Not sure if he was afraid I would get hurt or if he was afraid I wouldn't think much of his technique.... no idea.  After class I asked him if he wanted to throw me around.  He said there weren't many high level folks around to practice with... he declined.  Unfamiliar ukemi can always be challenging but I think I got the gist of their style from the class and thought I could keep up fine.

I have to say I liked the class I took years ago a little better.  At least in that one we did a couple throws (taiotoshi).  New people were encouraged to roll.  The brown belt and I did fun breakfalls.  Nothing like that this class.

If I'm in the area next year I may try to go back to the other dojo I've seen in the past.  I picked up some really interesting stuff from them.