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I had intended on writing a little about our Aiki Taisai sooner and in more depth, but I've had a lot on my plate and my mind has been a little too scattered. Our family friend who has been fighting brain cancer passed away a couple days after the Boston Marathon bombings. I thought I was prepared for her passing since we've been dealing with her struggle for some time now, but I broke down uncontrolably at her wake and had to leave the room. I will always remember the way her singing voice filled the room and gave me shivers; it was so soulful and clear every time I heard it.
I had a number of things I was going to remember and focus on to write about, but enough time has gone by that they're already not as vivid as they were. The images and sounds which still flash through my mind from training: branch tips tickling the sky as I shout invocations during misogi and then ashes floating in the air, settling downward toward the rippling Pilchuck river; people smiling and catching up as they see each other for the first time in a while; kiais filling the air and mixing with the satisfying thwack of wood on wood; and lots of laughter.
This taisai was different for me in one key way. This time I've actually been training somewhat regularly so I felt the distinct responsibility that I was supposed to know what I was doing and to teach the basic form of our practice to our guests who might not be as familiar. By the standards I would like to employ, I did terribly. Whether my cu
...happy happy joy. Keiko was a blast tuesday! My inlaws are in town so I was able to make it to both the beginner class and the open class. I came home exhausted, energized, and thoroughly delighted.
I was able to show up early like I used to way back in the long long ago, which was kind of fun in its own right. I got to see the newly-lacquered lamps put in the heiden before warming up for the beginner class. We got to do lots of morote dori, which is one of my favorites for how it seems to help remind me to get both sides of my body involved. We did kokyu nage omote and ura and, I want to say, shihonage, but I might be mixing that up with the open class.
In the open class we trained outside until it got a bit dark. The white hakama and keikogi almost seemed to glow in the dim twilight; I love those kinds of semi-surreal moments. They seem to imbue a sense of the grand mystery of the world/universe, which for me adds to a sense of opening the mind and intent. As fun as that was, I still feel so "new" with regards to the bokuto waza. Certainly I feel more familiar than a year ago, but with taijutsu I have a lot more confidence...like I can "fake it" better.
At any rate, we went inside and worked on morote dori shiho nage ura before moving on to what I think was a tsuki kokyu nage variation. Sensei started the morote dori focus by showing a variation which brought uke's arm closer to the shoulder, using a bowing motion to facilitate the suppression. It was interesting to
Went to bed about 12:30am last night, got up at 6:20am this morning to go for my long run. I went to the earlier training (which is technically for 12+ min./mile people) thinking I could run the hour and then drive up to the dojo for keiko, but when I got there I was told it was a 2-hour day. So I ran 2 hours. I see my usual group coming toward me as I'm on my way back from the half-way point, but then a short while later I see them passing me going the same direction! Turns out it was a 60 minute day for the faster group and a 2 hour day for the slower group. So I got some extra steps in. I actually felt really good throughout the run, though. I was drained by the end, but I finished running faster than when I started. I sent a message to my wife and she replied, "going to head home after all that I bet!"
"Nope! Going to Aikido!" was my reply.
I was about 30 minutes late; just in time to get a little outdoor training before Sensei brought us inside. I was spent, but had a great time. We worked on morotedori kokyu ho, starting with a focus on the morotedori suppression and then going into the waza proper. Running makes me stiff and I felt very stiff, particularly after having missed roughly the last month of keiko, but I came away feeling pretty good, all things considered. I came home, showered, and promptly took a 2-hour nap. It was the best nap I've had in months! When I woke up I felt awesome! So awesome I went and tackled the pile of gravel while my youngest played i
My 3 year old asked for another cookie from the bag and I said they were all gone. He looked at me for a second then asked, "Is there zero inside there, papa?"
...And likewise, there's no keiko tonight for me. I missed last week because I chose to work a wayward job that came my way, and this week when I needed a babysitter, everyone seems to be sick except (mostly) me. C'est la vie. I could use some limbs twisted, though. I'm always surprised how tight running makes me in certain areas of my back, and I was looking forward to my "weekly" adjustment.
Speaking of which, the marathon training is going modestly well. The long run of our training regimen was 70 minutes last week. We're working at a very conservative pace and it's been great for keeping my usual aches from showing up. I think changing it up to a walk every 9 or 10 minutes allows me to kind of reset my posture. I've also been trying to implement ki in my runs, which seems to help me focus on smoother, more balanced strides. I find myself focusing a lot on how to strike the ground with my feet and how that feels in different parts of my body. I'll imagine projecting my hara deep to the center of the Earth and I tend to feel my "center" (more or less) stabilize, and my energy increases as my strides expand slightly and my strikes seem more springy.
Suburi at night has been slightly cold and/or windy. A little wet. Nice though, all in all. I've been working more on striking the funky "makiwara" I made, trying to t
I missed keiko last week, so I was anxious to get to training last night. As usual I've been fighting some kind of illness (a rattle in my chest), but just the remnants. This time I remembered to bring my video camera so I would have some study aids in between my attendances in class, however when i got it home I found only about half the class was recorded as the battery died. I also managed to miss the corner where sensei demonstrates bokuto exercises, so I got a great shot of pretty much everyone except him. Still, I was able to at least catch some of my sempai doing the exercises. I also managed to get the first part of the taijutsu portion of class.
We worked on ai hanmi katate tori irimi ura from the gokyu test requirements. Sensei began with seiza, then backwards hanmi handachi, and then from standing. In some sequences we laid the receiving hand on the inside of the knee/lower thigh and uke tried to push nage over through the leg. We did this in a somewhat static way which made it feel very much like a push test. I was trying to receive the incoming force and to be able to stand up into it (even if that meant sinking the hips a little). I liked that it forced me to really feel my base and consider what my knees were doing.
All in all I got another great workout. My legs were feeling the burn and while I was taking ukemi for sensei, a few times I was shaking from all the exertion. I really needed some mat time; it felt great!
I could sit here and write a lot more
Keiko thursday was challenging in a couple dfferent ways. My kids had been sick and had a hard time sleeping, so of course the same was true for my wife and I. I watch them during the day so to keep awake I drank more coffee than I should have. By the time keiko rolled around thursday evening I was fried. I made it just in time to bow in. I like to use the open mat time before class to get my wits and body loosened up, but didn't have the chance to this time. I felt pretty out of it most of the evening, but it was a good chance to work on my ability to focus. By the end of class I felt much better.
The last couple classes have included a focus on a double kesa action, which has been fun to explore. We also worked on gyaku hanmi katatetori ikkyo undo (edited: confused irimi ura from an earlier session), which was done a little differently than in the past. Sensei told me I needed to put more ki in my left flank/kidney area and it was interesting to work on the waza with this in mind. It suddenly became easier to align myself verticaly and to feel the forces settle into my hip/base (i.e. I felt more powerful and more stable). Writing this now I realize the last couple nights I forgot to work on this during my suburi, but tonight I'm leaving myself a note to really work on this.
On another note, my wife and I are planning on doing the Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon this year and we decided to train for it as part of the Team in Training program. We're going to be fundraising f
So our family friend did quite well with her procedure. They delayed things because of some respiratory issues, but once it was done, she was awake and responsive fairly quickly. She responded so well to it that they're talking about letting her go home soon. She has to relearn how to swallow and walk, but things look much better.
I was going to drop the lads off at my mom's so I could train today, but with the events surrounding our friend, my mom is visiting the hospital today. My wife is on a "mom's weekend" catching up and unwinding with friends, so I'm stuck at home. It's a beautiful sunny day so I'm going to bundle up the "wee'uns" and play in the frost-covered yard. I'll take a few licks at the makiwara in between pretending to be an airplane and a construction zone (the popular games of the day).
Suburi the last few nights has been very cold. I'm getting a little tendonitis in the outside of my wrists so I need to stretch and relax my grip more. I've been massaging along the ulna which seems to help a bit.
I've been trying to focus on accessing my lower back better since I've also been feeling some tightness around there. Last night I asked my wife to run an elbow along my spine and she ran into a very tender spot. That area is usually pretty tender, but it was much more than usual. I've been noticing, too, when i walk my right kidney area feels tighter than normal.
...so, as usual, today i will try to relax my hips and spine and work on breath practice and al
No biggy right? I wanted to write more on my last blog because I'm trying to really pick apart my training experiences so I can maximize my learning. Unfortunately I found my motivation was flagging due to a very close family friend who is toward the end of her short life. A friend of my cousin's, she was all but adopted by my aunt and uncle and has been living with them for years now. She's been battling brain cancer for a while and is about to go through a temporary procedure which has considerable risk involved. From what I understand, this procedure is about making her last...days?...weeks?...a little nicer. They recently drained some fluid and it left her unable to speak much. This one will hopfully take away enough pressure and not cause too much damage so she can interact with her loved ones more.
One funny bit...so she wasn't able to talk and for some reason they had a TV going with no sound. I'm not sure if it was some kind of therapy or what, but it was on all day. Late at night they're just sitting there watching the thing and her dad asked if she wanted him to leave the TV on to which she replied instantly, "turn the damn thing off," and then gave a bemused smile a moment later. Never underestimate a fiesty spirit!
Cherish every moment, folks.
Walking Life's Pathways
blindness around each corner
steps are miracles
Good fun, of course. After dropping the boys off at gramma's I thought I would be late, but I was just in time. It was a small group, sensei making a total of 6. I like these kinds of days because it always feels more intensive.
Bokuto things to focus on:
Softer right hand
Less tucking tail/better hip alignment
Activate and relax the knees more
Drill and Kill kata
I started out paired up with the new uchi deshi. I suddenly couldn't remember my next movement in a kata (I should have down pat by now), but fortunately he remembered it for me (er...it was a test...yeeeah, I was testing him!). I've been focusing more on the parts of the kata so I still have a strong sense of the whole flow for some of them and need too much memory jogging. If I'm going to work toward that "First Step" I need to cross those proverbial "i's" and dot those proverbial "t's."
The major lesson seemed to be better use of the hips through better alignment and rotation; and relax more in general. I would be moving and sensei would say "stop," so we'd freeze and he would make various postural corrections pointing out where I had too much tension. At one point sensei demonstrated a connection between a kesa exercise and taijutsu application.
For the taijutsu portion of class I requested shomenuchi tenchi nage. We didn't quite get to the whole thing, but we did get a nice close look at shomenuchi. After practicing the attack itself we essentially practiced slipping past it with a shomen of ou
Half way up a mountain top
a town with a simple name
Adequate was a nice place to stop
so that is where I came
The peak was seen so clear it seems
the valley down below
the trees so green the air was clean
with rich soil in which to grow
Because the hike was hard indeed
I rested and planted roots
strong vines and flowers from my seeds
and many different kinds of fruit.
But at long last I looked above
I saw the shining sun
I remembered once a long lost love
and dropped my plow to run
Enough became not itself
once I saw what I ate
for life was like the muffled bell
unclear and dim: in Adequate.