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Signed up to be Soto Deshi until the end of May. (This is the equivalent of being Uchi Deshi in other dojos. The only difference is that since Sensei lives at the Dojo you live at home.) I had been contemplating this for quite a while. It seemed like a good time to commit to Aikido on an even more rigorous scale. As far as training goes it will really only add Wednesday to my existing schedule. It does however remove the idea of having a little slop in Thursday and Friday night class attendance. The extra work on the Dojo and assisting sensei in various tasks is something that I have felt I needed to do for a while now.
There is still a bit of trepidation with this step. It shifts my focus from doing aikido with several other things that I have going to doing aikido and if possible fitting in the other things that I have going on. While this has always been the idea that Aikido came first, there have been times that an Aikido class or two has been skipped in order to get this or that thing done, or because I had been working in the bowels of some boat all day and had felt all cramped and bent up. This eliminates that whole escape and excuse pattern that I used to allow occasionally.
Also this is an opportunity to commit myself to working on myself for 6 months as my number one priority. This commitment is to working on the things that I need to work on both externally and internally. There are a number of places in my internal aikido realm that I need to ge
Worked on Shoman Uchi Ikkyo through yonkyo, irimi nage, and shiho nage. The class was wonderful, worked with a variety of people. The amazing moment was when sensei worked with us on the ukemi. Again telling people that the key to being able to do more realistic aikido is to make sure that you attack continuously, and that your goal is always to attack Nage. When we were working on this, something that I have been working on for quite some time, being a pliable, and receptive uke, but also going for the nage as much as possible. If not taking the openings I see at least seeing them and cataloging them to check against my technique.
So I am working with a member of the dojo that has been away for two years. His enthusiasm for the practice is still there, and he really likes to come in hot. We would occasionally end up in a strange place where things kind of locked up. Sensei came by and showed me that I was reaching up for the elbow way to soon, and that if I waited, and the uke was dedicated to attacking me, I could slip in behind the uke and then grab the elbow. It was pointless to grab it earlier because it gave the uke my elbow exactly like I had their elbow. In addition there was nothing that they could do with their elbow while I was in front of them in the correct ma ai (sp?). Once I was around behind the elbow was there to use as a lever to get their shoulder rolled to the ground. This was very much apparent when sensei was the uke. It a
Back on schedule. Three aikido secessions on Tuesday and Thursday. I would attend tonight, but those holiday work parties, which one must attend get in the way of everything that would be more fun. Feels good to be back on my schedule. The last few months have disrupted it a lot.
Quite a few things came out of today's lessons. We worked on Ikkyo through Yonkyo drop back from Shoman. Sensei came over and worked with my partner and I on the initial blend. Blend further, imagine the uke's attack as a butterfly on your hand, follow it down so they are always expecting resistance, and then allow them to overextend themselves. Taking balance in the very beginning of the technique. This seems like I should have known it a long time ago, but it came like finding out that there were two new versus to all the Jimmy Buffet songs that I know, and they were all two versus before what I thought the beginning of the song was. As they right themselves back up add a tiny bit of energy to the Uke's righting motion.
The overextending part of this was something that was new, although hard to describe here, it made sense and immediately worked with an uke that is committed to attacking you. Sensei called me up and used me as the crash test dummy for illustrating this to the whole class. It was really cool. I also was the demonstration uke for kokyu dosa. So smooth, I was tipped over the instant I grabbed him…..(How does he do that???????)
Evening basics worked some with
The Men's Retreat with Sensei was a wonderful experience and I am very glad to have been able to participate in it. A lot of things happened at the event, two of them related to Aikido directly, the rest indirectly.
Sensei, Rembrandt, and I worked with a group of the men on Jo work while we were there, it was wonderful. At first I was a bit leery that they would get much out of it in the little time that we had to show them and work with them. Sensei did a wonderful job teaching, and the deep teaching that he does really sunk into the men there.
After we had worked with the group as a whole one of the men wanted to work with Rembrandt and I separately, wanted to really ramp it up, make it fast and "real". I thought that I would bow out and leave the two of them together. Rembrandt was the one that bowed out!!!! Leaving me as the Sempai with a brand new person that wanted to go fast with sticks, this made me more than a little nervous, especially when Rembrandt walked behind the new person and mouthed to me "Remember you are the sempai." Oh Boy a bit more stress and in weapons work none the less, something that I had an opinion that I wasn't really that good at. So we started off slow, a pattern that is easy, and Sensei had created especially for these type of events, we would ramp it up a bit work on it, then ramp it up a bit more, this went on for several minutes and we were going quite fast. It became interesting to me that my awareness expanded the fast
Last week I was training with Rembrandt after class. It was amazing and magical. We were doing a kind of physical conversation. There was give and take, and an exchange that often caused both of us to laugh. I found that if I used the slightest amount of upper body strength, in the conversation, I would instantly, and I mean instantly do a breakfall. It was wonderful!!!! It would happen again and again. It taught my body what my mind already knew, good Aikido has nothing to do with strength.
Worked on Two step versions of Ikkyo, and Irimi Nage, then tenchi Nage. It was a good class. Lots to learn. Including one of those; "If you think about it, you loose it" moments. Worked with a two of our newest members, and gained a lot of insight. The built in response to want to get farther away from what we perceive on some level as an attack is amazing. Working really slow with them it I could still see the difficulty they had in getting in close in Irimi Nage. It made me think of my own techniques, and to determine that to an extent I am probably doing some of the same still.
At the end of class I paired up with Rick, who has probably been the person that I have trained with most in my Aikido practice. It is amazing training with him because we have trained together so much, any subtle differences that appear, created or by chance are easy to feel. Ah that was different, what we you concentrating on there? What did you just change? Did that feel different to you? Most of the time in that moment we can share with each other the answers to these questions, and try the changes out ourselves.
Training with Rick is really good especially when I am working on new or deeper parts of the practice. We worked on one together today that was amazing. In Tenchi Nage, when I was Uke, there was a moment that I felt like I needed to protect myself from his heaven hand. This was deep, somewhere in the unconscious mind level protecti
Aikido mind blowers for the day:
My Shiho Nage seemed to have dissapeared for a quite a while. I was working with Picasso this morning, and having my normal shiho nage problems. Picasso said: move your hips through you arms, on shiho nage don't try so much a turn around as to get your hips through. Ok this was amazing, I know that my shiho nage was never as good as it was after that instant!!! Wow, blew my mind.
Then I got to be the crash test dummy (demonstration uke), and Sensei worked on drawing your uke gently off balance in ikkyo and shiho nage. I tried this with my partner, which was Rick and it was amazing!!! Sensei even said "That is good". WOW high praise!!!
Then sensei worked with Rick and I on presenting wrist as a place for uke to grab, but also something that takes and keeps the center. The uke has to go around the hand and wrist to get to Nage. Nage holds center from the begining of the technique. From before their even is a grab or an event. The amazing thing was that this changes for Uke to Uke, and that you have to adjust for ukes physicallity and personality.
Sensei just holding his hand out in the right place made it seem alternately easy to grab, and an obsiticle to get around!!!
At a party a hint of another conversation distracts me from my light banter with a friend. The voice of a woman drifts by and I hear; "Compassion is just something that you use to get what you want from another person. I don't do compassion anymore." The sneering tone of the comment is almost as distracting as the words themselves. The speaker seems to be saying "I just take what I want from whoever I want now…."
I spend the rest of the evening thinking about the ways that I have come to view compassion, what it has come to mean to me, and what things I have changed in my life to make a space for compassion. I still can't define it, I would liked to have been able explain my view of compassion to the woman at the party. I tried to think of how to start a compassionate conversation, to make sure that I understood what she was really trying to convey, but all that came to my mind was to hold out my hand, and say; "Here, grab my wrist...". Not something that would be acceptable for guest behavior even if the party is here in California.
Before starting Aikido my concept of compassion was something closely resembling grace, but harder by far to define or express. To act out compassion on a daily basis, was getting harder and harder. Now, a short two years later, I know throughout my being what compassion is, I have felt it physically almost daily in my training, heard it in the teachings of my Sensei, and experienced it in the way that I view t
We worked on Yokomen Kote Gaeshi this morning . Focus the double two step variety, cutting with the same hand, and blocking with opposite hand while still two stepping. It was a good class. Sensei popped one of my circuit breakers while discussing the idea of capturing the soul of UKE through the eyes. He works on making his eyes show the compassion of his soul, and eliminating the aggression and fear that he feels so that he can do this. The eyes as a window to the soul idea. I have experimented with looking in peoples eyes and capturing their attention, (Soul seems way to strong for me at this point), but where was I taking them? Was the trip to a good place or the place of all of my fears and anger? What a difference this would make to the person that was attacking you. What a difference this would make on the mat to the person that you are training with.
Working with different people today on the concepts of looking into their eyes, and focusing on them instead of focusing on the hand that is going to come around and hit you in the head was great. It really focused for me on the things that make this Aikido vs. Aiki Jujutsu.
I need to work on getting my soul to a place that is a lot more welcoming, comfortable, and a lot less wounded, angry and violent. This feels like the essence of my Aikido practice right now, soul work, bucketing out the pond of guck that is on top of my soul…
Remember the last splinter that you had in your hand. Maybe one that was not easy to get out, or one that you had for a while before you noticed it. It probably came to your attention when your hand brushed across something, you felt a slight snag, and the splinter pushing painfully deeper into your hand.
Recently I took a part time job. I was talked into it by a wise and kind gentleman, he asked for help and told me the needs of some others where he worked. The wise gentleman is great to work for, and has a heart even bigger than I thought when I first met him. Truly one of the best people that I have ever worked with. Some of the other people that work with me though are less wise, less kind, and have a lot less social skills. One of them energetically jumped me on Friday. I listened to what he had to say, apologized for causing him an issue, and then blew a fuse in private. I was so mad I could spit nails, and I couldn't even understand why I was mad.
Today on the mat, I asked sensei to help me with my nikyo pin. Something has been wrong with it for a while, something that I have tried to get my sempies to help me with to no avail. So sensei said; "What's wrong with it." I said "It hurts peoples elbows. I am trying not to put any pressure on their elbows, only hold their shoulders on the mat." "AHHHH" says Sensei "We don't want their shoulders on the mat. We want to pin them so they can't move." A long lesson about body physics, and what needs to be done