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I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to put together a coherent set of ideas for a post. So once again, here are some random bits:
Still digesting everything Nadeau Sensei said when he was here for a seminar. One way he suggests looking at things is that you (your body, hips, and hara) are "the vaccuum cleaner" and the techniques (what your arms and hands are doing) are just attachments. It's the horsepower/amperage that make the machine powerful, not which kind of brush you snap onto the hose.
I'm beginning to see some of the layers of the onion that Aikido is. One that seems to keep coming up in the past couple of weeks is misdirection, as in magic. Using atemi to draw uke's focus, appearing to be rooted on the line of attack while actually preparing to rotate off of it, etc. Playing with people's perceptions is fascinating stuff.
I've discovered that, in spite of trying to stay relaxed, I'm doing something during bokken work that's really hurting my neck muscles - the little ones on the front and sides. I think it's a combination of weakness there, and of using the wrong muscles to compensate for others that are weak. So I have some new strengthening and stretching exercises to do.
On of my favorite sempai, Johnathon Purcell, tested for shodan yesterday. Here is slo-mo video of his first throw in his new hakama: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEShoS3CzIg&fmt=18
He started at Aikido of San Diego when he was 11 years old. He's off to college at UC Berkeley on Wednesday. He's a perceptive and thoughtful student and teacher, kind and highly competent. I've been very fortunate to train with him since I started practicing Aikido in May. I and our whole dojo are going to miss him something awful. If you're up that way, perhaps he'll turn up at your dojo.
I've been slowly losing weight and getting into better shape. In part that's because of actual Aikido practice, but also because of all the other work I'm doing so that I can do the Aikido practice better, and without hurting myself.
I've been reading books and watching DVDs like there's no tomorrow. I've been really enjoying George Ledyard Sensei's 3 DVD set on Entries. Frankly, I was initially very interested to see how someone could fill 3 DVDs with "just" irimi. It's great material. clearly presented. Ledyard Sensei is a great teacher and really very funny sometimes. I also got the Ukemi DVD by Ellis Amdur. I've only watched a bit of it so far - planning to watch the whole thing this evening.
Classes have been a lot of fun, and we've been doing some interesting exercises, like discovering where your balance-breaking point actually is, and what you can do to recover and continue once you've hit it. I'm still exploring (as I expect I may be for years) my propensity to mentally seize up when I'm overwhelmed. I've been doing less of that lately, but only because I haven't been overwhelmed.
My Sensei (Dave Goldberg Sensei, at Aikido of San Diego) does a 2-hour workshop every couple of months, on a Sunday. I couldn't do the last one because my shoulder was still a mess, but I'm looking forward to the next one, "Relax, it's Aikido - Discovering and developing deeper relaxation with integrity for better results," on the 23rd.
Also coming up, in September, our dojo's annual Aikido retreat: http://www.aikidosd.com/camp.htm. It's held in the Cuyamaca Mountains (east of San Diego). Everyone who's gone before is very excited about doing it again. I'm signed up, and now wrestling with the decision to camp in my tent (private, quiet, comfortable...) or in one of the shared yurts (fun, up half the night, bonding...).
Off to groom the critters and clean their pen. Picking up manure has got to be good jo practice, right?