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18 years ago I began the study of Aikido and throughout that time I've studied pretty poorly overall. When I'm training, I try to be as present as possible, and to apply myself as wholly as possible. But as others have written about more eloquently than I feel I can do, it is easy to find excuses, or to get caught up in other things. I get that there is a balance to be had and that each person must decide for his or herself where the lines should be drawn. As for myself, I've not applied myself as well as I would have liked, in retrospect. However, the nice thing about the "20/20" vision of hindsight is that we can apply it toward the future, and in a nutshell, that's what training is to begin with: to do things and pay attention so that when we do more things we might do them better. And perhaps, as members of whatever communities we are connected to, we can help others in some way, too.
Last week I was fortunate enough to be promoted to shodan, and I've been fascinated by my feelings over it. I've gone from nervous and feeling completely unprepared, to feeling frustrated that I have wasted so much time, to feeling grateful I passed. I went from feeling like it wasn't really anything more than recognition of time spent, to feeling proud and amused that I get to call myself a "black belt." Now I feel determined to make it count as much as possible, and to make it signal a turning point, one more in a long line of life events, which I hope will add weight and levity to my ac
Was just frickin' rad. Nuff said, really. However, in the interest of science: We worked on Chiba Sensei's Sansho 1 and a couple other exercises with jo outside because the air was still chillier inside. Some awase and a new kind of "mirror" exercise using tsuki and kesa. The weather started out cold and cloudy and finished with brilliant blue sky poking through thick clouds and warm sunshine radiating down to the Eart'.
Came back inside for taijutsu and worked on kokyu ho; kokyu nage; and nikkyo from seigan hand position. As we closed out class with our usual abreviated chinkon kishin I had the notion of entering into a circle/space equating to displacement, and entering out of the circle as creating a hole. I'll have to play with that imagery a bit. Sensei has mentioned in the past about the need to be able to coalesce/appear and to disappear and it related to something I was working on in the Sansho kata.
Now to clean house and squeeze in some follow up jo work as time presents itself.
Have a great weekend!
Keiko Saturday was extremely gratifying on multiple levels. I've had some strange health concerns lately which sent me to the ER one day. The EKG gave a reading which suggested my heart might have left ventricular hypertrophy, so I've been spending the last while worried about whether or not I have heart problems. An echo cardiogram showed the heart itself to be in normal health. This keiko was the first I've been able to attend where I wasn't afraid of overdoing it. So I had a feeling of freedom and fearlessness that I had been sorely missing. I also had the added sense of seriousness that I've been experiencing. The health scare, while still a mystery, has reinforced and clarified some of the mroe important things in my life.
So approaching the study of the form of waza and the principles which go into making it/them organic felt incredible. The sweat pouring off me was exquisite, and my heart was full while my mind felt focused and sharp. I savoured the demand for breath as my chest expanded and settled as I tried to relax everything around, and according to, my center.
Weapons work was on jo waza, then we did a kind of sumo-ish floating exercise from seiza, where we try to directly float uke's hara without pushing into it. The angle and attitude of the hands and wrists, and their affect on the upper chest and shoulders was something I tried to pay special attention to. Afterward, we worked on ryote dori tenchi nage omote as the form. So much was said and I cannot reme
Spring is springing up in my yard and it feels good! The last little while has had a number of beautiful starry nights to practice suburi. The wee lads are growing like weeds and we've started making it a point to "wrassle." It's fun connection play for me and it gets them used to tumbling a little. I haven't really started formally teaching them anything yet, but my oldest (almost 6) and I did an exercise in seiza from a blade on blade position where I try to enter either with my elbow or my hand around the contact point and his job was to stop the entry. He did pretty well in my opinion!
I rototilled the back yard and practiced my connection and posture while doing it. The previous day I was yanking blackberry bushes out of the ground and strained my wrist pretty bad so I was worried if I would be able to handle it, but it was no problem...apart from making me pleasantly exhausted (too tired to keep working, being the only problem).
We have blackberries thanks to the neighbors who don't cull the ones growing behind their garage and I do battle with them every year. Last year I gave up and called it a plan for cultivating them like we do our raspberries, but this year we cut them all the way back. We had dozens of gnarly root systems all over and they were a bear to yank up, but part of me likes it for the training I see in it. Grabbing brambles with your hands teaches you a soft touch and to apply lateral pressure to keep from getting stuck by them. It's similar to when
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