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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 10:53 PM
One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 270 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 846,437

In General How to Eat a Fish Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #270 New 02-02-2012 07:17 AM
Some time ago, I sat down to dinner with my paternal grandparents (my "Lolo Camillo" and "Lola Oreng") while visiting them in California. They were having salted, pan-fried fish that night -- a fairly common Filipino meal with the usual steamed, white rice.

As I started to dig in, Lola Oreng shrieked in laughter just as the food was poised to enter my mouth.

"You mean you do not even know how to eat a fish?" she cried.

Bewildered, I looked down and stared in confusion at the chunk of meat on my fork.

"Susmarjosep," Lola cursed, sucking air sharply between her teeth. She snatched the fork from me and proceeded to deftly graze the tines of the fork under the filet, separating it easily from the bones.

"That," she declared proudly, "is the proper way to eat a fish,"

I've thought about her choice of words a great deal since then. While I'd rather chalk it up to her Grade 2 education and correspondingly poor command of the English language, it struck a chord.

You see, when I was a child, I was duly instructed by my father in the "proper" way to sweep the floor, the "proper" way to do the dishes, and so on and so forth. It irked me then, and it still irks me now. Perhaps if fried fish were a regular part of my diet, I thought, or if I had at that point in my life been more experienced in household chores, I would have naturally discovered the best way of performing these tasks on my own.

But the whole idea of a "proper" way is especially significant to me t ...More Read More
Views: 2855 | Comments: 6

In Training Wed. Jan. 11, 2012: Shihonage Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #269 New 01-13-2012 03:33 PM
Just logging these to keep track of where we are at in the cycle.

Ran through Shihonage from all of the following attacks:

Katatedori (omote & ura)
Morotedori (two versions)
Katadori Menuchi
Shomenuchi (omote & ura)
Yokomenuchi (omote & ura)
Ushiro Ryokatadori
Ushiro Ryotekubidori
Ushiro Ryotekubidori Kubijime

Not done yet:

Views: 2577 | Comments: 2

In Testing Nothing Better to Do Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #268 New 01-03-2012 11:58 AM
So, it's been almost two years now since I got to Shodan, and there's still no proverbial "bun in the oven" to speak of...

Might as well go for Nidan!

Which is great, because it dovetails with my desire to work myself back into a periodized conditioning cycle. I found it both energizing and motivating during the run-ups to both Ikkyu and Shodan. I just have to be very careful not to let that, coupled with my hectic work schedule, stress me out to the point of becoming overtrained again. And that wasn't very fun at all.

Over the last couple of years, I've some to realize that I am an intensely goal-oriented person. What really motivates me is having a tangible challenge to overcome. One that can definitely be measured. So for me, this results in the one of two major downsides to Aikido not being competitive.

The first, of course, is that it is relatively easy for many practitioners prevent their techniques from being tested. You just have to look at some of the nonsense on YouTube to see what I mean: yudansha with such poor form that -- at "best" - wouldn't move a bigger, stronger opponent and at worst, would put the defender off-balance instead of the attacker.

But I digress. Maybe I'm just a little snarky because the majority of people I've trained with for the last nine years (happy Aikido anniversary to me!) have all been bigger and stronger than me and I've had to learn the hard way.

Anyway. The second consequence is that I have to rely upon the ...More Read More
Views: 1958

In Training Shikkoing uphill, but in good company Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #267 New 09-28-2011 11:38 PM
I can say without a doubt that this art is one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life. It offers conclusive evidence that at the root of it all, I am indeed a masochist.

Whoever said that things get easier is a dirty, rotten liar. Aikido is a mystery, hidden in a puzzle, wrapped in an enigma. The delusional theory floating around that black belt is somehow this pinnacle of achievement is utterly laughable.

I used to do this art solely for myself. The first few years are always like a honeymoon period of sorts. You have this warm, fuzzy feeling about practice. It's a kind of infatuation, really.

Well, Aikido and I are long past that stage in our relationship. We've been together long enough that we can be comfortable with our differences. We can just be ourselves, belches, farts and all. (Aikido hates how I get lazy about doing the dishes. Personally, I hate how it leaves the toilet seat up all the time. Damn awkward in the middle of the night. But we're still good.) In the midst of this, it's easy to get so comfortable, in fact, that you get complacent.

One of the most convincing lies ever told - time and time again - is that love is a feeling. That it waxes and wanes; gets stale over time. Kind of like the misguided idea that marriage is a contract. That if and when things get rough, or your partner doesn't fulfill their end of the "bargain" of expectations you have for the relationship, or you think you've found a better offer from someone els ...More Read More
Views: 2408 | Comments: 2

In Miscellaneous Time to Smarten Up Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #266 New 09-09-2011 01:35 PM
Take a look at the vast majority of Aikido clips on YouTube and is it really any wonder to serious Aikidoka out there that our art is the butt of martial arts jokes?

I mean, people. Seriously. Enough with being hobbyists. Train hard. Then put your best stuff out there or nothing at all.

I just get a little tired of hearing people call the discipline that I've devoted almost a decade of my life to -- the same discipline that, God-willing, I'll still be practising when I'm 60 -- no more than a pretty little dance. Yeah, well, this "pretty, little dance" can break your big, ugly neck.

Not very "aiki" of me, I know. But hey, I'm no yogic-flying, Zen-meditating guru eating locusts and honey at the pinnacle of enlightenment. I'm just a sweaty little girl wanting to achieve excellence as a martial artist. Excuse me for not being gracious -- I'm a work in progress.

Sorry, I just had to get that out. More on this later.

/rant (for now)
Views: 1956

In General Back to the (bigger, badder) Basics Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #265 New 02-09-2011 02:25 PM
I'm convinced that no matter how busy your life gets, or how far from ideal your situation may be, you should make the time to look around and take stock of just how fortunate you are. Now is definitely one of those times for me.

Sure, you could say that we don't have a "permanent" dojo space of our own right now. That the student numbers are low. Meh! The fact is, between the church hall and the university, we've got a pretty good thing going. For one, I have the opportunity to practice six days a week, if you count the Sunday afternoon I teach (which is in many ways, an even more intense learning experience, as I've blogged about before). Sure, having back-to-back classes on Friday night (going straight from regular practice at the main dojo class to being demo uke and participant in the beginners' one) can be brutal. Boy, do I look forward to a nice, hot soak in the tub at the end of my week.

But participating in the two "extra classes" with the beginners at the university is definitely paying off as far as Kihon waza is concerned; we can lecture about a good foundation in the basics until the Mudansha come home but you can never spend too much time building more of it for yourself. There are still more minute details I'm learning about the basic exercises that I hadn't been taught before. Which is why I'm glad we're spending more time these days not just on good ol' Tae Sabaki, but in particular on dynamic, moving Tae Sabaki, instead of the kind that starts static ...More Read More
Views: 2471 | Comments: 1

In Humor A New Technique to add to the Wiki Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #264 New 10-28-2010 05:04 PM
Category: Immobilizations (principles)

Name: Wrongkyo


A widely practiced (though not formally recognized) technique that usually immobilizes nage instead of uke, mentally instead of physically.

Can be performed from any attack and at any given moment; Wrongkyo occurs when nage instinctively responds with a technique other than the one they were actually directed to practice/originally demonstrated by Sensei.

May be loosely classified as a kind of Oyo Waza.
Views: 2931 | Comments: 5

In Techniques Respecting Koshinage Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #263 New 10-20-2010 01:04 PM
Koshinage shows no mercy.

If Koshinage were a member of your dojo, it would be that really tough, no-nonsense sempai who tells you to suck it up and stop wimping out all the time, why weren't you at class last Tuesday and why the heck aren't you breakfalling more? Rawr!

So put Koshinage on the menu for a lackadaisical, slacker of a teenage student (who is obviously not learning Aikido because he really wants to) with a default disposition of not wanting to learn in the first place; add to this a posture and martial stature that can only be compared to that of a soggy sponge and you have a recipe for utter disaster. That, or one that essentially forces said student to focus.

Not focusing in the role of nage = getting squished like a bug. Not focusing in the role of uke = getting spiked headfirst into the mat (ie. squished like a bug, but at a greater velocity than before).

I never thought I'd say it, but I think I love Koshinage.
Views: 2700 | Comments: 3

In Teaching Spider-man and The Teacher's Mind Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #262 New 10-06-2010 03:00 PM
"With great power, comes great responsibility."

Good, old Uncle Ben. How true.

And how strange it feels, over a decade later, to be standing in the middle of the Auxiliary Gym at The University of Winnipeg again...this time as the teacher. To look at my reflection in the bank of mirrors along the wall and see a figure in a hakama staring back. In the same place where my adventure in Aikido began, gone is the naive and impressionable 22-year-old me in my crisp, new dogi and stiff white belt: being taught how to roll improperly and to wave my arms about, movement devoid of martial intent.

I am determined that there will be no "Mexican hat dance" in my class, no "one hour of talk, one hour of practice." That nonsense was kindly beaten out of me on the mats over the last eight years and all the better for it. There is no teacher with spurious credentials and barely-discernible mumbling, juxtaposed with moments of angry barking at beginners. That's not my style.

After some initial awkwardness that involved a creaky, perpetually dry throat and getting slugged in the stomach while teaching my first class, I suppose I'm slowly settling in to the role. But obviously not without some growing pains. Thankfully I've been receiving a great deal of support -- both from Jon and from Jeremy, who has been alternating as teacher with me.

For one, after eight years of physically taking the role of student and going through the motions of the traditional gestures that follow, it' ...More Read More
Views: 2491 | Comments: 5

In Teaching The Bend in the Road Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #261 New 03-17-2010 03:30 PM
I know that for some, becoming Shodan has marked the end of a road. On the contrary, if there is anything that the milestone has done so far, it's confirmed my belief that not only does the road continue, but that the terrain has changed drastically.

What was once a guided path, well-worn and meticulously tended with helpful markers along the way has suddenly become a faded trail rising ever more steeply through a dense and mysterious forest. And if it wasn't already difficult to find my way through this dark and foreign place, there is an ominous mist settling around me - I am being engulfed by a thick fog…of doubt.

Am I being overly melodramatic? Perhaps. But the metaphor is more apt than you might think. For what I am referring to is the recognition that I will soon be called upon to assume the role of teacher.

Already? You may ask yourself. Well you see, we are a very small club. I guess we always have been, for the most part, at least in the time I've been a member. And by "very small" I mean that including myself there are only five students practicing regularly - seven, if you want to be really liberal about the definition of "regularly" (as I suspect some students are). So aside from Sensei, I am now the only other Yudansha on the mats.

Consider as well that Sensei has been teaching for almost twenty years now out of necessity, ever since he was Sankyu(!). Through a matter of circumstance, it got to the point where if he wanted to practice, he had to b ...More Read More
Views: 2503 | Comments: 2

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