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Summer has held a very pleasant string of memorable evening solo practices.
Lightening and rain and stars and moon; the calls of invisible birds flying overhead in the night; intelligent raccoon stares along with those of the cotton-brained, near-blind opossums; a thousand breaths and a million thoughts polishing the mirror of the mind's eye and its semi-stone, semi-fluid, placeholder. The night before last was cold and I can hear Winter's voice singing in the wind. The seasons flow on to a new phase of their dance.
Earlier this month I committed to writing out a detailed log of my training, but after a few days, I amended this goal to focus on my warm-up exercises (ame no torifune undo, furi tama, and ibuki undo, most specifically). I'm still tracking things, but instead of focusing on the list of behaviors, I'm focusing more on developing the habit; of not needing the props of paper and pencil to make the list happen.
So far this month I have missed one of my evening practices. I've been enjoying a developing sense of solidifying to the routine of hakkushu, furi tama, ame no tori fune undo (which includes furi tama between the 3 sets), ibuki undo, and again furi tama. I've averaged close to 45 minutes or so. I'm usually spending the majority of the time on ibuki undo and transferring that feeling to doing shomen uchi (which I might describe as a focus on "age"/raising and "sage"/dropping).
In ibuki undo I'm focusing on relaxing and reaching in symmetry about my hara; coordinating my movement with my breathing and feeling how the lines of tension seem to relate to feeling more balanced.
Furi tama has me exploring the idea of how center and hands relate. I've been exploring the differences in grasping relatively tightly or loosely, as well as adjusting tension where ever the notion strikes me to do so. I've also been alternating between which hand is on top and comparing how the tension changes in my forearms and armpits and upper torso. This might be described as looking for the lay of the internal land that is my human form; mapping for internal relationships/dynamics. I try to relax in such a way as to allow the shaking of my hands to create a resonant shaking in my lower torso primarily, but I play with it sometimes and will choose random or novel locations...Still no luck on making my ears wiggle.
One common theme for me to focus on, regardless of the activity itself, is the spine. I'm trying to have a very clear mental connection to where exactly in my body my vertebra are. I have (relatively mild) chronic lower back pain that keeps drawing my attention. The balance between the right and left sides of my leg-hip-lower back connection seems to be causing part of the problem. I'm also working on balancing my neck. As I work on hip alignment I finish it by letting the wave generated through the shift in rotation to float upward through the spine (that's the intention, at least), and as I work on neck alignment I finish it by letting it drop down through it, reaching between up and down as purely as I can muster.
I mentioned wanting to involve my kids in my efforts to up my attention to training and I've been finding opportunities to play with connecting and off-balancing them in small ways. They already like using me a slide (I sit in a slight bow in seiza and they climb on top of me then slide about 3 inches down my back before touching down and climbing back up again). This gets real interesting when both start climbing me and I "really" have to start reaching in all directions to find stability, and then focus on "deflating" in ways that cause them to slide downward before they get too high up for me to feel safe about the little game. It's an interesting practice of supporting and then slipping past contact points. I don't know how much it's helping me or them, but it's very fun and it's interesting to observe...makes for a nice little massage of my back, too!