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Happy New Year everybody!!! I'm a little late for the new calendar year, but lunar new year is still coming up! As per the norm, I'm looking forward to 2015 being a year of increased practice. Last year had its issues, but it also had a lot of food for thought; there was plenty to reflect upon. Hopefully I've digested it well enough and will put it to good use this year. The family is well and I feel like I'm getting the hang of this parenting thing more and more. My two sons are growing like weeds and show a curiosity for the world around them that is both fun and frightening. Fun because of the childlike wonder, but frightening because my oldest is now old enough to start asking deeper questions and make more of his own connections. One of our favorite past-times these days is to watch The Joy of Painting, and my oldest son has had a running commentary for a while now whenever he paints his own happy little mountains, clouds and trees.
This year's goals are to get the garden and garage in shape and to work on my consistency of training on the mat. A friend from high school teaches Wing Chun and lost his training space so in the interest of helping someone continue their passion I've agreed to open up my garage to him. It's a symbiotic sharing of space because while it helps him, it also is helping me to clean out the clutter in there, and it also will provide a weekly bit of exercise. He's a cool guy who's got a lot of interesting experiences and it's been a lot of fun th
After thinking a bit more about the thread with a similar title, I wanted to try and organize my thoughts a bit better with regard to my running and how I attempt to apply my Aikido training to it. This last weekend I ran as part of a 12-man team from Spokane, WA, to Sandpoint, ID. Overall I didn't do that many of the miles. My longest run was 6.5 miles and the other two were about 4 each for a total of approx. 14.5 miles. So a little over a half-marathon spread out over two days.
The mind tends to wander when I'm running and it's always interesting to see where it goes. I often remember things I've forgotten; I get creative ideas; random things pop up. When trying to focus on one set of things, I'll often suddenly realize I've drifted into something completely unrelated for awhile. However, the thing with running is that eventually, you get tired and winded and your body hurts and you're thirsty and perhaps even a bit hungry...no, wait, starving because you didn't eat much while driving around Spokane supporting your other runners...for example. The point being that the body starts demanding attention in a variety of ways, and in many cases signals that it wants you to stop what you're doing because, dammit, it's hard on its parts. It's a great practice for working on discipline of the mind and body both, being very much a whole-body activity. For these challenging reasons I've come to really value it as a supplement to my meager Aikido training.
One of the things that I'
Well it has been a somewhat difficult Summer. First I broke my hand, then my PC broke, then my wife's amazing grandmother passed away, then I found out a friend's 4 year old grandson has Leukemia, then I found out my mom has been fighting breast cancer. Contrary to plans, I have not trained much this Summer...at least not in the typical way.
It has been easy to feel like my life is hard right now, but the reality for me personally is that with the exception of my "deformity" (that was the term used for my very poorly healed broken hand), it is the other people who bear the heaviest loads...but it is hard to feel like I'm looking around at so much work, and I'm not supporting like I think I should be able to...and the reflecting I've been doing always comes back to one idea: I've been lazy; I can do more than this if I focus and organize myself, and the people around me deserve my best, never mind the fact that so do I.
Finally made it to training last night. I only had time for the beginners' class, but yesterday it was apparent that was where I most belonged. I do my best to maintain my beginners' mind because I believe it keeps you humble enough to always learn new things, even within the old familiar things and I am often convinced my sub-conscious is more than willing to help with providing me proofs for the need of sufficient humility. We have a couple of newer students and at one point while training with one of them I said we were doing suwari soto kaiten while co
After a couple weeks away I managed to train both Thursday and Saturday this past week. Thursday was tough. I felt very off and had a hard time tracking things, which made me feel inept. The central theme for me was "shugyo." I could feel the omitted training throughout and even got sick at one point during a connection exercise where uke more or less ran around nage. The previous couple weeks had been rather crappy on several fronts and the cumulative effects were readily apparent. I did very much enjoy the san nin ikkyo randori at the end of class though. Clearly they were taking it easy on me when it was my turn, but it was one of the few moments I was able to turn off my mind that night and it felt really good to do so.
The difficulty on Thursday had me eagerly looking forward to Saturday. Saturday morning came around and I was ready to get on the mat. It was my birthday (my very own new year celebration ) and as a pleasant surprise I opened the door to see snow softly coming down. I love the snow so it was a nice way to start my hour journey north to the Jinja. Smile upon my face, I decided to grab my CD case and I plugged in my old-time favorites, The Doors. Time to Break on Through to the other side.
Thursday, Sensei had asked me if I was up to date on the new yonkyu requirements. I was not, so I made it a point to have one technique request at the ready. However, other folks spoke up before I did, so I didn't get to ask. Still, one of the techniques requested wa
Yatta! Two keiko in two weeks! I'm a training machine! Watch out! But seriously though...
it's nice to not have a month or more between practice. I'm still getting thoroughly exhausted after taking ukemi from Sensei, but I can feel slight progress.
Focal points from training:
Imagine being up to the solar plexus in water; everything above the water does very little and is relaxed, but everything below the water is generating drive.
Start from the core; the periphery adds to that.
Equal ki in the hands.
Receiving the torque/lock from the left wrist, try to spread it out through the body into the right flank.
Start correct (as much as possible), then add speed.
That last one was reinforced nicely while practicing ikkyo. I noticed I kept trying to pounce to make it work, but when I slowed down I was able to get a better feeling involved, which was immediately noticeable to my partner.
Last year feels like it was full of all kinds of things and I feel like, looking back, I'm staring at a cluttered room where I cannot see everything very clearly. Training was sporadic, but I'm accustomed to that by now and have come to terms with the fact that my initial goals had to change. I wanted to be one of those folks who trained as a very central part of their life, and in a very broad sense it has been, but the bottom line is that my mat time simply hasn't reflected the ideal. That said, last year I felt more connected to my training than the last several years preceding it. My "nightly practice" has actually been almost nightly, often for an hour or more at a time, and I've built a tanren uchi/makiwara thingy to help condition myself.
This year, the year of the horse, my plan is to ramp things up again and really push for my shodan. This means I must get organized and more formally study for the tests I'll need to take. The last time I tested was in late 1998 (I think), for my gokyu. Sensei says he thinks I'm approaching the level of shodan and it will just take consistent training to make it happen. I have never been one for ranks and feel too fallible to assume any position of authority compared to even newbies, except perhaps in the most superficial ways, but I want to take that first step and stop being so damned flakey.
Life's a real trip. It's interesting how one's path can meander into some interesting directions and while I have always valued the concep
Happiest of holidays to everyone! I love martial artists for their drive and passion; it's also what wears on me sometimes. Our strengths can be our weaknesses.
So, as I go into this new year I'm reminded of a lesson I regularly hear from my Sensei: the basic to Shinto is gratitude. I'm grateful for the many opportunities to learn; whether from the good things, the bad things, or even the ugly things...did anyone else hear that whistling sound? Anyway, what attracted me to Aikido is the concept of reconciliation...harmonization, if you will. On a personal level this means making my very different facets work in a more cohesive manner, both in terms of my mind and my body, which are themselves inextricably linked and continually influencing each other. This is "mind-body" as I understand it; the internals; that hidden portion of our training (intended or otherwise), the proportions of which shape every external manifestation in its own highly unique way.
Every day I struggle with different aspects of myself. When I was younger I was very good at finding indifference as a way of dealing with stresses. I could lock out my emotions and focus on the rational aspects of whatever it was I was facing. Over time though, I began to get the sense that I was becoming a rather cold person. I felt somewhat disconnected from the world around me and found that while I had a strong sense of dispassionate observation, it occasionally left me with a sense of being somewhat isolated from th
Reviewing the recent video of me taking jiyuwaza ukemi for Barrish Sensei, I've been trying to think about what's happening and why it seems like such a good practice to me (never mind the places that show specific mistakes). In the sense of opening up the body and having a fuller frame I think it can go pretty far. By exploring the meeting with and the nature of the connection with ( ) the expanding and contracting aspects of Sensei's structure, the mind/body dynamic familiarizes itself with things like ma'ai and establishing and reestablishing balance (which seems like it could be a kind of proto-kaeshi exercise in its own right), along with other ways the body gets in its own way.
At the moment of contact, invisible structural flaws can become a little more visible and adjustment is required to whatever extent it is possible, even if it seems at times impossible. At the slower speed of movement, I am able to perceive what's happening a little better and more quickly seek a better orientation of tension/posture; for me right now this tends to mean aligning the spine by sitting back more within my structure and relaxing where ever possible as much as possible.
Particularly as I get more and more tired, I as uke am simply trying to maintain structural integrity while maintaining positive pressure. I'm trying to keep my balance (gravitational and structural) as centered as I can perceive (looking inward while looking outward) while being twisted and stretched arou
Ahhh. Made it to keiko today. These last few weeks have been probably the most stressful and mentally challenging for me in some 14 years or so. I'm reminded of Chekhov's quote that any idiot can face a crisis; it's the day to day living that wears a person out...throw in some crises and suddenly things can seem bleak, to put it mildly. I was inclined to share details, initially, but I'm chosing to stick to my more comfortable mode and just give this gist instead. Suffice to say I've been feeling unraveled this last month or so and it's seemed to culminate these last few days. The part I'll share is that I've been missing keiko considerably, so it was good to address that issue directly.
It's been freezing, so the mats were hard, but considering all the stresses I've been feeling lately, they were a warm welcome. Apart from getting some jiyuwaza in with Sensei, I trained only with the newer students. It was mostly a case of happenstance (I turned and bowed to whoever was next to me), but when I have been missing keiko I do tend to feel self-conscious about training with the more advanced students, like I might be wasting their time. In retrospect, I don't think I should think this way. I may not be particularly good or caught up on the particulars, but I will learn quicker training with them. That said, I had a great time and feel like I got a lot out of training with the newer students like I did.
Sensei had us doing some different warm-ups than I remember: a slightly di
Well, it's been a busy last couple months. Attending preschool has proven harder for me than for my 4 year old. It's a co-op, so I have to take an active role, which I like (I love the principle), but it's been an adjustment for me. We have a hard time with finding a babysitter because I'm not very willing to let strangers into my home, let alone care for my kids...which are about as sacred as sacred ground gets. That all said, I am slowly shoring up my scheduling difficulties in that regard.
Keiko has been sorely missing. I can feel it in my body. I do some simple breathing exercises every day, but it's not the same. Also, I haven't been practicing them for an hour like I was before. A mixture of the change in weather and some good books, among other things, has created a lull, but I find the desire to practice better/more swelling again.
I thought I had more to say, but right now I'm distracted by the fact that my wife's grandma isn't feeling well at all; she's in miserable pain from the dehydration that can come with the flu...I will say this, though: seeing someone so sweet and bright with vitality in such constant pain brings a poignancy to mind for the real purpose behind personal development. If we don't learn, we're very much more at the mercy of happenstance; if we don't maintain our learning, same thing.
Take care, folks.
P.S. I'm going to begin daily Chinkon practice, starting today.