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Learning by Falling Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 06-29-2005 01:29 PM
From May 12th, 2005 to the present, my experiences with Aikido
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 31
Comments: 9
Views: 95,689

In General sore right away Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #31 New 12-14-2005 12:55 PM
I woke up this morning and was painfully aware that I was training last night. There were parts of me that were sore in places that I didn't even know had muscle. During my morning shower (a blissfully steaming hot one) I managed to find various bruises and stuff.

Some people talk about this delayed onset of soreness. They say it doesn't reach it's full potential until 24 hours later. I find that in much less time than that I'm at the peak of soreness. Even now, without any medication (I stray away from pills if at all possible) I'm not nearly as sore as I was when I got home from the dojo last night.


Three classes last night. I walked in with my new jo and bokken, excited for the final weapons class of the evening. In the first class with Toyoda Sensei we worked on what I think is an irimi kokyunage. As someone comes in for shomenuchi, you step right into them, draw them to your chest, then pivot around and throw them. Uke rolls out on one hand. It's a pretty powerful throw when you do it quickly.

After that I spent the rest of the class with one of the guys who is testing for 7th kyu this Saturday. He's young and really flexible. He had a little bit of trouble with the names of the techniques, but we talked about the Japanese meanings of them and I ran him through the entire ki and technique series. He knows what he's doing, and I'm looking forward to seeing his test this Saturday.

Class two with Parks-Casey Sensei focused on lots of taisabaki toshu. Mun ...More Read More
Views: 1693

In General the weather outside is frightful... Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #30 New 12-09-2005 09:21 AM
It was snowing pretty heavily when I arrived at the dojo last night. There were three inches on the ground. I was the only student there about a half-hour before classes so I swept the mats and changed so I could do some stretching before anyone arrived. Erickson Sensei came in and it looked like we were going to be the only ones for class, but due to the heavy snow, people began to trickle in.

In class one we did lots of kokyunage variations from katatetori grabs. The most interesting one was where you lead uke's grabbing hand toward theor own shoulder and wind them up like a top. Pretty quickly they will lose their balance and fall.

There were four students and Sensei made us work as one large group in sort of a jiyuwaza style with repeated attackers coming in. It was all happening so fast I think most of us forgot it was cold in the dojo..

Class two, weapons, focused on jo. We did lots of striking patterns that Sensei is a fan of. For instance, munetsuki into hasso no kamae, then with a small hand change, you're setup for a shomenuchi strike. Then into another munetsuki and so on. Up and down the mats we practiced our forms.

Then we moved on to kumijo, kata three. The best part about that kata is the huge arc you get to make with your jo while winding up for the final strike. If you do it right, the jo emits a haunting "whooosh" as you whip it around. Fun.

The final class was a mix of 4th kyu, 5th kyu, and 7th kyu test requirements. Ushirotekubitori kokyu ...More Read More
Views: 1656

In General cold mats *shiver* Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #29 New 12-08-2005 10:57 AM
When your toes go numb and all you can pray for is a technique that involves some rolling ukemi, you know it's wintertime in the dojo. Tuesday evening it was something like 12F(-11C) outside and the mats could have frozen a pizza if you would have laid it in front of the shomen. But after training in 100F(37C) heat, I have to say I enjoy the cold so much more. Toyoda Sensei put it best "In the winter, you can train and warm yourself up. I'll take winter training over the summer any day."

The beginners class I attended was really good. One of the gentlemen is coming along quite well. It's amazing to watch what can happen in six weeks. There is also a brand new student on the mats who lived in Japan as an English teacher. I look forward to speaking loads of Japanese with her.

We did some ma-ai practice and lots of ikkyo with a bit if nikkyo. Nikkyo is so sensitive, you have to get it just right and it works like a charm. Otherwise it seems to have very little effect. I like the challenge of it and I'm looking forward to working on it more because katatori nikkyo is on my next exam...whenever that will be.

Class two was with Parks-Casey Sensei and because we were cold, we did LOTS of rolls and throwing from katatekosatori and ryotetori. There was a healthy dose of ryotetori tenchinage thrown in, which I have still yet to get right as uke or nage. It wasn't until half-way in that class, nearly an hour and a half after beginng to train that day, that I felt ...More Read More
Views: 1972

In General new weapons Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #28 New 12-02-2005 11:14 AM
At nearly the speed of light, my jo and bokken arrived at work today from Kiyota in Maryland. I chose a medium bokken and the aiki jo 54" x 2.6". Both are white oak, made in Japan.

The jo is HEAVY. Much heavier, I think, than the ones we train with at Tenshinkan. However, that might prove to be extremely useful. It comes right up to my armpit, which is a comfortably long length for me. I might have to rethink this and purchase the 50" one, but we'll see after I train on Tuesday with it.

The bokken is perfect. It's perfectly perfect. The length is good, the weight is not to heavy and not too light, and it has the pale blush I admired on Parks-Casey Sensei's bokken.

I didn't expect them to arrive until next week, so I have to make my way home with them and then rush off to the hardware store for some really fine grit sandpaper. I've been instructed to finely sand them down (only a bit) and then follow with a good rub down using a muslin bag filled with chopped walnuts.

I also have no case for them yet, so I'll need to get on the ball and get that sorted out quickly as well.

Weapons. I have weapons. If you asked me last year what I'd get myself for Christmas 2005, I would never have said weapons. Never.
Views: 2133

In General Post-turkey training Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #27 New 11-30-2005 08:45 AM
Last night I was back at the dojo after a week off for the holidays. Our first class with Toyoda Sensei concentrated on lots of kotegaeshi and backward rolls, although not at the same time. Gyaku kotegaeshi is far more powerful that I first thought, but uke really has to know how to take the ukemi from that control, otherwise they'll stumble over themselves. And yes, that was me, stumbling over myself the first few times nage applied the kotegaeshi on me.

The second class with Parks-Casey Sensei began with shikko. Up and down the length of the mats a few times we went. Then we started working on turns. They're exactly like some turns I learned during a dance class (WAY back in the day), I have the concept pretty well. It'll just be a matter of polishing my form and keeping my balance better. And of course, trying not to think of how sore my knees are.

Our shikko practice led into suwariwaza. I'd seen it done during a kyu test, but had never tried it. Shomenuchi kokyunage isn't a wildly complex technique. It doesn't have a million hand changes or feet movements. But when I tried it on my knees, I felt as helpless as an infant. Balance, control, throwing, all the rules change. Even the ukemi is wildly different because you're already so close to the ground.

But that didn't stop it from being very enjoyable. Every time we were each nage, there was a line of four uke taking turns attacking. The timing for the entering step at the beginning is REALLY critical, just as it ...More Read More
Views: 2052

In General long rope Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #26 New 11-16-2005 02:58 PM
The Tuesday night triple-play. I'd been at the chiropractor earlier that day and my back was (and thankfully still is) feeling great. I'm not going out of alignment, but my back is snap-crackle-popping a lot. Little things go in and out here and there and he puts them back in place. What I'm concentrating most on now is keeping my posture all the time.

First class was an intro class, so we did some rolling review and a bit of basic nikkyo work. I'm all for the rolling review because the more I roll, the better I get at it. It's funny though, I depend a lot on momentum. My static rolls, from kneeling, aren't very good. That's something to definitely polish.

The nikkyo work was really interesting because Toyoda Sensei said something that really stuck with me. It was a quote from one of his sensei, something to the effect of "Imagine yourself as a piece of long rope. Stay extended. You can shorten a long rope if you need to, but you cannot lengthen a short rope." I've completely murdered the quote, but the point is to maintain extension constantly.

Class two was with Parks-Casey Sensei. We did lots of tai sabaki work from ikkyo forms. I like that kind of stuff because my body really does seem to learn the patterns and the flow of things better than pure technique.

She added a bit of break fall work and an interesting ikkyo technique where you lead uke around by the back of the neck while they are looking at the floor. It's pretty scary not knowing where y ...More Read More
Views: 2088

In General all the colors Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #25 New 11-10-2005 02:27 PM
Two classes last night. Toyoda Sensei was filling in for Garza Sensei. I attended because I was scheduled to teach a Japanese lesson after training. I sort of feel that if I'm going to be teaching Japanese to those who are teaching Aikido, I should reciprocate and study with them. Odd if you think about it, but it works.

The first class was the first time I've trained with several students of every color of belt on the mats. Sensei started by demonstrating the technique for the white belts. Then he did a more advanced form for the yellow belts, and then the blue, and finally the brown and yudansha.

From my perspective, it was awesome to see the different approach from all the skill levels to the same technique. One of the women who is just starting out commented on how she too enjoyed seeing the spectrum of applying the technique.

Experiences like that really help give me direction. Setting goals is paramount to anything in life, but Aikido is one of those things that mandates small goals. I can't see myself slapping a date on when I want to achieve, say, a blue belt, or shodan. You really cannot do that in my opinion. Short term, small goals are key; I'd like to think I could test for 5th kyu before the end of next year (yellow with stripe for us) at my current pace. That's a short term realistic goal.

The question I tend to hear most often from the people I talk to Aikido about is "how long does it take to get to black belt?" My answer is always t ...More Read More
Views: 2138

In General first breakfall Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #24 New 11-09-2005 10:01 AM
Tuesday nights mean one thing; three classes at Tenshinkan. The first was an intro class with some students who had all been there before. We quickly went through some katatetori and katatekosatori techniques before spending a bit of time on sankyo.

Closeness seems to be the key to sankyo. Get in very close and really control the entire arm, thus controlling the entire body. Toyoda Sensei said that if you can see uke get up on their toes a bit, you know you have lots of control. The pin is still a bit of a mystery to me, but it was the first time I really spent any length of time doing sankyo, so that wasn't a bad thing.

At the end of the class we all lined up as a group. One nage was in the center of the mat, and in turn we each attacked. Nage was free to do anything they wanted, as long as uke could perform the ukemi properly.

Intention, intention, intention. That seemed what the lesson was all about. Follow through on what you intended to do, and in fact, try and anticipate, if possible, what uke will do so you can get ready for the technique. I wish we could have done more of that free work. It'll come with time I suppose.


Class two, and the theme for the rest of the evening, was shomenuchi attack. Stepping into shomenuchi and blocking it. Shomenuchi kokyunage and some iriminage. Difficult for me to do, but by the end I was getting the flow of it. The entering motion is udefuri choyaku undo, really flowing into the attack. It's a little ...More Read More
Views: 2854

In General looking, and starting to see Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #23 New 11-04-2005 10:09 AM
After five hours on the mats in two days, I was a little concerned about spending another three hours training at the dojo. But, and this always happens with me, once I got there, my spirit lifted and I caught the buzz.

That seems to happen from time to time, and I'm not sure why. I'm at work, it's nearing the end of the day. I know my dogi is in my bag, and it's only a short train ride to the dojo, but I second guess myself. "Do I really feel up to it? How's my body doing? Can I make it through n number of classes today"

Of course, stepping into the dojo washes all that doubt away. Once I've got my dogi on, my training mindset clicks into place and I'm happy to be there. I see my friends. I see my sensei. I look at the picture of O Sensei and the photograph of Toyoda Shihan, and I know I chose the right path for the day.

It's kind of a mystery why I second guess myself. Every ounce of my spirit loves training, but there are moments when I ask myself if I really want to do it today.

With only one exception, when I hurt my back, I've always been up for it. Always.


Chicago is playing games with us. We had a surprisingly warm evening last night. The wind blowing off the lake was amazingly refreshing on the way to class. I arrived at the dojo about a half-hour before class and was able to relax and chat a bit with Matt in the office.


Erickson Sensei took us through warm-up exercises and sort of a break-fall roll which we call roll-outs ...More Read More
Views: 2197 | Comments: 1

In General strrrrripe one! Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #22 New 11-03-2005 09:23 AM
Last night at the dojo I attended two of Garza Sensei's classes. I don't normally train on Wednesday night, but this was the first night I was going to begin tutoring him in Japanese, so out of respect I trained with him on the mats.

I enjoyed both classes a lot, but I can't remember much of what we did. (I'll explain why in a moment) Having the chance to work with a slightly different set of uke was nice. It always helps to have different body types and skill levels to work with. There was a newly minted blue belt training with me. He was in the very first class I ever attended. I always have enjoyed training with him because he's a really thoughtful nage. He pays attention to you in an intense and friendly way.

At the end of the class, after the final bows, Toyoda Sensei called me to the front of the class to present me with my scroll. As he was reading the scroll in Japanese, my mind completely left the dojo. For a moment I was back in the Sanjusangendo temple in Kyoto. I completely lost touch with everything that was happening around me, just as it happened when I was in the temple earlier this year…

Something connects me with Aikido and Japan. I feel this really strong connection that's haunting and comforting at the same time. My trip earlier this year woke something up inside of me that's been sleeping for a long time.

…I heard hands clapping, and in an instant Toyoda Sensei was presenting me with my scroll and a small AAI booklet. It was almost like whi ...More Read More
Views: 2458

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