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A new member on the board just reminded me of something important. He posted about how his weaknesses becomes amplified through his training. This struck me a true statement that doesn't get discussed enough. I do think it's true that we see our own weaknesses stronger than ever when we train hard. That's what caused me to take such a long break from posting on this journal (see previous entry) in the first place. Now I am far more open to advice than I was previously, and my training is more fruitful now as well. It's so hard to make the transition from being a pretentious westerner, to something... else. It's a work in progress, but the effect in already in stark contrast to "how I was before." I wonder what changes in other people who have trained for a long time. I think for me, there are several things. The first one, which I will always struggle with, is humbleness. I grew up with two older brothers who were both geniuses (based on I.Q.) and I always assumed that I was too. I'm not. I need to understand that the reason I may have seemed smarter than some of my peers growing up was that I listened to my brothers. That lesson was completely lost on me untill I started training and found our that you have to listen to people who know about these matters. Another thing that I think has changed in me is a desire to do hard work or improve myself constantly. How many of us were/are lazy people? I know I was/am. But now, there is a strong motivation to not o
Well, it's been a while since I've posted much of anything on these boards. Not that I haven't been lurking, I've experienced a shift in my Aikido and my life. I have come to the realization that I know nothing. I don't mean this in a self-deragatory way, I simply accept that most everyone on these boards and on the mats knows more than I. It's difficult for me to justify giving advice to others, so my new focus has been to listen. I'm trying to be more receptive in my technique as well, but I'm not pushing that too much right now. It also occured to me that I am trying too damn hard to get to some next level that I think I should be at, and this is blinding me. So, my current goals in life and in training (really the same thing) are to stop complaining about things, stop advizing in situations where I honestly shouldn't, and to try to listen and receive the gifts that I am given. That's the short answer for my lack of posting. Really, after having gone through a very intense period of questioning, I'm feeling very much like I need to stop pushing for answers and let them come to me. I have the nagging impression that I've missed something that I was supposed to get by talking so much that I couldn't hear what was being said to me. So, this is my first ego-killing exercise. I've thought about this before, but I'm really becoming convinced that killing my ego should be a priority... I may start posting actively again soon, or I may not. I really don't know at th
This past weekend I attended the Spring Seminar at the University of Iowa Aikikai, in Iowa City with Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei. Well, my first seminar is done and overwith, and I've been chewing on some of the things I've learned for the past couple days. Since I'm still going through a lot of the concepts, let me keep this general for now. First things first, man that was a lot of fun! I've never even seen anyone in person higher than a sandan before, let alone having all those blackbelts in one room. Nearly every person I worked with in those 8 hours of trainind was a blackbelt. In normal training, we tend to stick to the basics a lot, so each time I work on a technique I can expect to make a little progress. When I was working with people so experienced and helpful, the progress was fast and furious. The difference between when I started each technique and when I finished was pretty drastic. I can't express enough gratitude to all the people I worked with over the whole weekend, and unfortunately I'm horrible with names so I don't think that I could even if I tried. I was very impressed with Yamada Sensei, and all the other people as well. It was certainly inspirational to see such great examples of technique, some very powerful and effective, some very smooth, flowing and effective. It was also the first time I had really seen a very different style of Aikido than we do. The Iowa City folks come down once in a while to teach a class, but by and large it's pre
Hmm... tonight, if you didn't guess by the subject head, we did breakfalls. We almost never do breakfalls, as most of us are newer, and there is rarely enough speed to make them neccessary. Well, consequently I suck at them. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, other than "landing in pieces," rather than all at once. I mean, I know what I'm doing, but not what to do about it. We have thick crash mats, so nothing we do ever really hurts me. Some other students seem to think they're not so soft, but I've never had a problem with them. Anyway, even though I'm breakfalling wrong, I don't get hurt doing it, which is good because I could pretty much do it the whole practice if I wanted to. It seems as though I'm landing on the "wing" area of my back, and then my feet come down and my hand drops later. Like I said, it doesn't hurt, I just know I'm doing it wrong. Oh well.
Tonight, we talked a little about some of the more esoteric aspects of Ki, which is something else we almost never do. Our instructor was talking a bit about trying to feel other people's intentions, making a connection even before the moment of contact. It was pretty interesting, but now I want to know if there's a way to try and work on that connection outside of the Dojo. I try to empathise with people I talk to, to think about what they're thinking about or imagine what they're feeling. This is a far cry from that sort of connection that you try to feel in the Dojo, however.
Hello again. In class tonight we were having a bit of fun with some tanto techniques, and a situation came up that was both fun and informative, but perhaps ill conceived. We have a student who is relatively new and a genuinely nice guy who is also a Marine. He's been out for five years, but he still has "it" in him as I'm sure he always will. When we were doing one of the techniques he reverted to his previous knowledge of knifework and he kept changing up the attack. It was supposed to be something like an upward scoop from the hip into the lower abdomen, like maybe something that a person who didn't really know how to use a knife might do, but he wanted to do all sorts of other things. Ok, I think we all know that he knows how to use a knife, but it wasn't the time or place to show us his skills. Not to mention that when our instructor came over to try out some of the other attacks, he decided to give the instructor a hard time and really fight everything that the instructor wanted to try. Now, I'm not saying that it's never appropriate to try things out, or to test someone's technique with some resistance, but this was a lot of resistance. He even manages to scratch the instructor's hand once, drawing blood. Here's the thing, our instructor didn't mind at all, in fact he was having fun with it and was trying to learn how to switch up his technique based on what the uke was doing. It wasn't a bad exercise, and it was sure fun to watch, but it ended up looking a
I think that I've mentioned this a few times, but I work at a movie theatre as an assistant manager. One of the only things that I would call a perk about this job is that I get to watch free movies. Actually, it's required that I watch movies if I put them together, which seems like less of a perk considering the quality of most Hollywood drivel. At any rate, once in a while something comes out that I actually want to see. The Matrix: Reloaded was one such movie, and I've watched it twice already. I'm not bragging, though, I just wanted to talk about some of the fighting. I was hoping that there might be some Aikido, as I'd heard about one of the supporting characters, named Ghost, was a Japanese martial arts expert. He was only in the movie for about 2 minutes total, and he didn't do anything; now that I think of it all the stuff I heard about him was for the upcoming video game. I was also excited about Morpheus using a Katana, as I'd seen a few pictures of him holding it. Anyway, the fighting was, as always, very very good. The only real problem is that it's all Kung Fu, and only like one kind of it to boot. Nothing wrong with that, I love Kung Fu movies, but it doesn't look right with a Katana. I was looking for some nice kenjutsu, but the swordwork was just more of the "swinging it around like a sharp object" variety. I guess it wasn't totally bad, I was just expecting a bit more from that scene. There was one part where Neo started to do a Kotegaeshi, bu
This was a first for me. Tonight we did a small two person randori, with just about 20 or 30 seconds for each nage in rotation. Sensei started off by mentioning some bits about what we were doing, that any technique was okay, and some strategy. He then told us to keep it at about 3/4 speed, for us new guys, and he went up first. I thought he did quite well, I'd never even seen this done before, but I've certainly heard about it. I think he was following all the ideas and concepts that I've heard people mention, and I was pretty impressed overall. We went with a basic rotation, uke twice then nage once then sit off the mat, etc. We all went through twice, and overall I think everyone did well but me... as one of the two uke it was just plain fun, and was surprisingly hard to get close to nage. I always thought that the uke were being nice by waiting while a throw was getting worked out, but now I realise that it's usually because a good nage keeps one uke between the other while they're doing the technique. Amazing! It was fun feeling like we were really testing some things out. When my turn was up as nage, I simply didn't do well. First off, I couldn't get the techniques that I know I know out of my body. I could think, "ok I know what I'm supposed to do," but I couldn't get it working. Then, to really get my goat I just plain froze up when one of my uke grabbed my Gi at the shoulder. Arrgh. I know a few techniques out of that, but I couldn't summon them up.
So why am I bothering to post this? I'm not sure, but just because nothing serious came up doesn't mean I didn't learn anything. I got to work with the "silent partner" again, one of those who doesn't like to tell you what's going on, but shows you. I love that, and he's the only one in our Dojo who is consistently like that. We did some more fun techniques today, along with the old standbys. I have no idea what they're called, but one was a bear-hug breakaway from behind. I was shocked at how well it worked if the timing was right on. We also worked on a shoulder grab technique that was slightly unusual. I've worked on it before, but when I was VERY VERY green, not just VERY green. Tonight was one of those nights that felt comfortable, fun, and left me feeling great. Not to say that it was an easier time, actually as our techniques were simpler and there was only one of the newer people there it was more technique and less explanation. I noticed that our instructor was doing less of the play-by-play technique slow-mo before we tried it, so we did more tonight than we have in some time. One thing was a bit different, we don't have a "traditional" style Dojo, it's the second story of an old schoolhouse turned gymnasium that was then turned into the Karate, Judo, and Aikido Dojo that it is today. Anyway, on Thursday there are alwasy children's gymnastics going on downstairs, upstairs, or both. The funny bit was that tonight someone was playing rather loud polka o
Okay, this is something that I thought of tonight, and I wanted to post on it to see if anyone else ever gets this feeling. Let me start off by saying that I love the sword, and I always have. I am lucky that the art that I think fits me is one of those that still uses it. I guess this makes me a "pretend samurai," but I don't really care. The thing that messes me up to think about is how much I've become attached to my weapons. Tonight in class we did some jo waza that was like shihonage, and jo tori that was like kotegaeshi, and then a patrol kata. For the jo work, I was using someone else's jo. I never thought this would bug me, but it did a bit. It bugs me that it bugged me, too. I've never been anything but practical and rational, but what I was feeling was more emotional than what I'm used to. Not to say that I cried, or even that I thought much of it at the time, but I felt something and that's more than normal. Actually, at the time I really didn't think about it at all, but I noticed afterwards that I felt different with their weapon. Anyway, I have many theories about why this was, but I'm not sure if any of them make real sense. I think that the way I treat my weapons could be described more as a sort of reverence, or even that they are objects of worship (in a non-religious way... if that's possible.) All that sanding, rubbing of oil and time spent using them has made them not only familiar, but has formed a sort of link with me. Anyway, that being
This is the first of my actual after-practice posts. Anyway, today was an interesting day to start with. There were only 4 of us on the mat, which is usually the start of a great story about all the fun things we did. My instructor likes to experiment, and I like to experiment with him; these days are wonderful for that. Today our test was simple: in between working on a couple of techniques normally, he designated an attack (tsuki) and had us do whatever technique we wanted to out of it. Not too big of a deal, maybe. I was attacking first -in our Dojo the Kohai attacks first- and I was having massive difficulty following the technique. I would attack, try and figure out the technique (and by extension the ukemi for it) and then something weird would happen. I was completely unable to feel anything other than my own confusion. There was no... connection... and I was really surprised. We switched after 4 techniques, and I did my own 4 with no problem from Uke on taking the proper ukemi. This got me thinking about the concept of connection, and why I couldn't seem to make it. I know that it was my fault with the ukemi, because no-one else was having a problem with it. You see, when we train it's generally in a manner that we both know what technique and what ukemi to use, which can give you a false sense of blending. It's not true blending, though, in my case. It's more a matter of two people going through the same motions, and matching appropriate speed. This