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Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > AikiWeb AikiBlogs > Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai

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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 11:53 PM
One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 270 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 778,909

In Miscellaneous Time to Smarten Up Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #266 New 09-09-2011 02:35 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: 1816

In Miscellaneous Some Big Skirts to Fill Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #260 New 03-11-2010 07:06 PM
There are yards of black cotton crumpled at my feet and my hands are getting tangled in the long, twisted straps. I know I've been shown how to do this before, but still I sneak confused glances at the diagram beside me. I'm sure that I got the front half done okay but can't seem to figure out the rest.

I'm convinced that the directions are missing a step. That is, unless the illustrator meant to convey what I remember from a t-shirt my ex-husband used to wear that had a cartoon of two physicists in front of a chalkboard on which is written parts of an elaborate formula on either side and "then a miracle occurs" between them. I think the caption below it said something about needing to be more explicit in part two...

But there's no time to waste - I'd been struggling with the blasted thing for some time already. It had taken several minutes to tighten the stiff new black belt and I barely managed to shove the pleated front panel underneath it, all because I didn't think to keep a bit of slack to make room for the extra fabric. I'm regretting now my half-joking parting words to Sensei as I left for the changeroom:
"See you after class" - and wonder if that fabled Murphy is listening, adding this to his list of "Laws". I'm even starting to take somewhat seriously a quip I'd made that I would just tie the straps like suspenders if I couldn't figure it out.

It is clear to me that I am losing the battle against this new foe and would have to concede defeat -- at least f ...More Read More
Views: 2053 | Comments: 2

In Miscellaneous A Long Preamble Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #256 New 03-08-2010 04:14 PM
First of all, I want to take a moment to thank the many people whose efforts have been so integral to my training over the past seven years. You know who you are - some of you have moved on to other things, for others maybe "life got in the way" or you simply had to move out of the city - whatever the case, know that even in the brief time you were a member of the dojo, practice with you and your ongoing support have helped me reach this milestone in my training.

A big thanks to Jun at AikiWeb for giving me the opportunity to blog about and share my experiences in this art since 2003 back when I was a brand-spanking-new, unranked beginner and to those who have joined in and followed my adventures since that time - I've loved being part of your community.

Of particular note are the dedicated core students of Open Sky Aikikai (formerly the North Winnipeg Aikikai):

- Jeremy Duggleby (long-time training partner since before Ikkyu who I am certain has sacrificed his own training by almost exclusively practicing with me - a foot shorter and almost 100 lbs smaller than himself - which has ultimately helped me grow stronger, undoubtedly at his own expense)

- Jim Slivinski (whose well-timed words of wisdom gleaned from possibly two decades now of training in the art have helped me keep things in perspective and whose rootedness I envy and which has proved a wonderful training challenge to learn from)

- Garry Hayes (whose good humour and down-to-earth focus on martial ...More Read More
Views: 2255 | Comments: 4

In Miscellaneous Ikkyu - A Retrospective Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #249 New 04-04-2009 12:14 PM
Yes, I've procrastinated on writing this one. I just wasn't looking forward to doing all the stats tallying, but it's finally done. Enjoy!

Things learned since Nikkyu...

About movement and the art:

- The power of Kiai and its connection to Kokyu and Hara
- Proper alignment makes technique feel smooth and almost effortless
- Under pressure and with intense focus or "Mushin", the body can act (with seeming independence) to perform technique out of pure instinct due to practice/repetition
- The importance of visualization

About me:

- I've finally come to see my size more for its potential advantages and am noticing creative ways to adapt more often than I used to
- I get into this "zone" when I test and sometimes even when I'm attacking in Jiyu Waza. So much so, that I can even forget who I'm supposed to be attacking. :-D
- I really overthink things, but thankfully this happens more after-the-fact and not in the moments where decisiveness counts
- I have a strong sense of club pride that has been passed down to me from my own Sempai and while I hope to pass some of that on to the junior students, I'm now more conscious than ever of its impact on the energy of practice and the dynamics in the dojo


- I have had no new joint injuries over the past two years since my last rank and am convinced that this is due to resistance training and conditioning with weights
- The nutritional choices I've made for before and during seminars have h ...More Read More
Views: 1840 | Comments: 1 (1 Private)

In Miscellaneous Conditioning for Aikido: Kettlebells! Entry Tools Rating: 5 Stars!
  #240 New 01-10-2009 01:54 PM
I just updated my Strength/Conditioning post to reflect that after some research, I started incorporating Kettlebell exercises into my regimen back in December and thought it might be helpful to elaborate on this decision a bit. One of the "selling features" of Kettlebells has always been the claim that more than traditional weight exercises (ie. using machines), Kettlebell exercises offer "real world" increases in strength by engaging your whole body and working groups of muscles instead of isolating muscles like some machines do. It is because of this that many personal trainers have advocated the use of Kettlebells in the conditioning regimens of martial artists. So what have I found?

Not only have I been finding workouts with Kettlebells more convenient given the demands of my workplace this time of year (I do my Kettlebell workouts at home first thing in the morning before heading off to work) but almost immediately, I have found the exercises translating into improvements in my performance of Aikido technique. I believe that because many Kettlebell exercises rely upon engaging your whole body from your core on up (and only then, secondarily through the arms), I'm finding more and more that habitually using my center to initiate movement against this kind of resistance in my conditioning regimen, I am in turn doing this more and more in Aikido as well.

Within just a couple of weeks of starting these exercises, I started feeling a greater connection with my c ...More Read More
Views: 4108

In Miscellaneous Lessons Learned on a Windy Dock at 6AM Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #229 New 07-03-2007 01:53 PM
Just got back from a fun and relaxing Canada Day long weekend at Shoal Lake and naturally wherever I go opportunities to deepen my understanding of Aikido always seem to follow.

Rootedness on Unstable Ground

I woke up early on Saturday morning and did a hybrid of my AM workout on the dock --- some balance and Chi Kung breathing/centering exercises and basic Aikido kihon exercises such as different varieties of Irimi Tenkan (as well as some improvised cardio/strength ones thrown in for good measure later on).

As I was performing the balancing and centering exercises in particular, I found that Kawahara sensei's descriptive imagery of rootedness took on a new dimension. It was far more windy that morning than ever before and the already unstable dock would rock back and forth quite erratically. Up until this point, I had only had a physical understanding of rootedness "in one's feet" by way of feeling connection to the ground. I had only a mental understanding of rootedness in one's centre from feeling more stable on stable ground by lowering my centre of gravity (through squatting in Aikido technique). But when one's ground is itself unstable, one's ability to stay centered is no longer felt in the lower body but (as it became quite apparent to me on the dock) in one's hara. What was once solely a visual depiction suddenly became a sensory one.

The Aiki of Fishing

We did a fair amount of fishing this weekend, which I enjoyed (caught one Jack, which we ate ...More Read More
Views: 1563

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