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I teach Aikido at a small dojo in Winnipeg, Canada. Been doing so for many years now. This blog is just a collection of ruminations on teaching, descriptions of the events of daily practice, and the occasional funny story.
Class tonight involved the usual suspects. Except for a very keen newbie, there were only core students in attendance.
We were back on the tatami tonight (as opposed to Tuesday nights when we have to practice in a space to which we cannot bring our mats), so back to classical aikido techniques. Did the usual warm-up stuff and then some hanmi-handachi waza. Katatetori kaitenage (uchi tenkan) was the order of the day. Everyone seemed to be working without too much difficulty. Lisa tended to raise her gripped arm almost completely extended above her head while going under uke's arm. At full length, raising her arm this way allowed uke to stand up straight and maintain balance, which of course wasn't any good. I only mentioned to her that her form was off and she self-corrected without any specific advice from me. Very good.
Jamie was feeling miserable with a stomach complaint, so she was having one of those grit your teeth and train days. Near the end of class she finally had to sit out. She was feeling really tired too, but still trained anyway. She's a great senior student to have in the dojo.
Jeremy's at that place in his training where he's feeling out the boundaries of his power in technique. Lots of "ooomph!" in how he does things on the mat -- sometimes too much for the older guys like Jim and Gary. Its interesting to watch as Jeremy tries to impose his power on them and they, in turn, attempt to slow him down. So far, I haven't had to intervene directly, but I have mentioned to Jeremy that he ought to work within what he's given energy-wise from his uke. I think he's still on the "I gotta' whip everyone to the mat" line of thinking, though. He's a smart guy; he'll figure it out.
We did katamenuchi shihonage for standing practice. It took a bit of explaining, but they all managed to work out how to pass properly under uke's gripping arm while performing shihonage with uke's striking arm. Once that was accomplished, everyone seemed to move fairly well through the technique.
Did a little tsuki kokyunage at the end of class followed by some 3-attacker randori and that was all she wrote. The randori is always fascinating to watch. At first, new guys take a combative attitude toward randori. They think they have to throw everybody, which usually means eventually they get static and are overwhelmed. As soon as they start wrestling with an uke, its all over. The ladies take a very different - and I think superior - approach to randori. They don't get hung up on downing everyone but instead are thinking more of avoidance. This attitude typically means that they last longer in randori (provided, of course, they are observing the other basic strategies for randori). Its quite amusing to me to see how baffled the new guys who try randori for the first time are when, after all their struggling and wrestling they have been quickly overcome, they see Jamie, who is all of 100lbs. control the same uke quite handily without ever getting swarmed. They don't understand at all, of course, that it is primarily attitude that makes the difference.