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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 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: 763,166

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: 1788

In Testing The "Big" Test Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #257 New 03-09-2010 04:54 PM
A funny thing happens when you're a person who gets all introspective like I do. After a while you start to think you can see patterns within and all around you - like you can somehow figure out what's going to happen next based on some form of erudite elucidation. I'm positive that it's actually a new form of cynicism that protects us from being unduly taken off guard when things don't go our way. The result is you get to keep your cool and don't bat an eye when things take an unexpected turn. Whatever the cause, one thing is for certain: the next thing you know, you end up building all sorts of expectations around these educated guesses.

But I'm here to tell you that all of this goes absolutely cockeyed in reality.

For one, remember those 11 predictions I made in my second-last post before the test? Only half of them came true - and just barely.

You see, I was prepared. Really prepared. Yes, as if right on cue, I fell asleep during the drive while running through my test in visualization. But it didn't matter. I went right ahead and memorized all of the techniques, including the ones that I didn't have a solid mnemonic device for: namely the basic techniques for the optional section of the test that included Tanto/Tachi/Jo-Dori, Henka Waza and Kaeshi Waza. I even reviewed them in my mind before going to bed at the hotel on Friday night, first thing upon waking up on Saturday morning (in spite of it taking time away from my breakfast and almost not finding the time ...More Read More
Views: 1776 | Comments: 3

In Testing A Prediction of Things to Come Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #254 New 03-03-2010 11:58 AM
Now, I don't claim to be anything even close to clairvoyant. If I were, I might have avoided Jim's elbow in randori last night and saved myself from getting clocked in the temple. But I think after five kyu tests I would have some small notion of how these things will go. I'd imagine it will be something like this:

- During the drive out to Saskatoon on Friday, I'll fall asleep in the car while mentally going through the test list trying to visualize each of the techniques.

- We will not be billeting on Friday night, for the sake of needing to get a good night's sleep.

- Saturday morning, I will get up and do the customary "lucky braid" in my hair (this time, one braid for shodan - just like it was five for gokyu, four for yonkyu and so on.)

- Little Miss Overachiever will very nearly exhaust herself during the seminar practice sessions even though she really should pace herself to conserve energy for the test. Aside from this one sentence, she will refrain from referring to herself in the third person.

- Lunch will consist of primarily low-gi carbs.

- Pre-test, I will consume Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews and a Gatorade.

- 10 to 15 minutes prior to the test, I will get an adrenaline surge and lose all fine motor control. (Solution: I have completed and signed the rank application form ahead of time to prevent the form from looking as nasty as it did for my 5th and 4th kyu tests when I could barely sign my name. This means that there will also be n ...More Read More
Views: 2461 | Comments: 9

In Testing Eeeeeeeeeeee! Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #253 New 02-18-2010 02:39 PM
Obviously, I can't say that I've been over thinking my training lately. In it's own way, that has been a great blessing.

For I can definitively say, however, that it never ceases to amaze me how quickly the proverbial time goes by. Just a moment ago, it seems, I was testing for Ikkyu and for that brief moment it felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief…only to find now that almost a whole year has passed and lo and behold, here we are on the doorstep to Shodan.

Earlier last month, we found out the date to the next spring seminar - at which Kawahara sensei expects that Jeremy and I will test. My initial reaction to the news was to scurry around in a circle multiple times while flapping my little brown arms up and down, making an "Eeeeeeeeeeee!"-like sound.

Suffice it to say, I've calmed down quite a bit since then.

Naturally, this does not prevent a dozen butterflies from taking up residence in one of my larger digestive organs whenever I think about the test at great length. But as of late, the dreadful insects and I have come to terms with one another, at least of a sort. Kind of like having to live with annoying roommates: heck, they're paying their fair share of the rent so you can't really complain too much. I don't bother them and they don't bother me. In fact, I am considering harnessing their wing power and converting it into a kind of Ki-like substance. Purely theory at this point, you understand. The logistics are still being worked out.

Last night, ...More Read More
Views: 3385 | Comments: 10

In Testing Ah, Ikkyu: that Cruel Mistress Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #248 New 03-27-2009 10:08 PM

So much for getting lots of sleep before last weekend's seminar.

In between preparing homemade deer jerky for the drive, Thursday night was spent going over Jodori and Tachidori as well as a couple of things that were still rather hazy in my memory. I was tired, cranky, utterly frustrated with myself and looking back on it I exhibited almost all the signs of overtraining. I didn't get to bed until 2AM. During the long drive out on Friday, I did get to sleep in fits and spurts in the car but mostly in between a great deal of visualizing - sitting there with the test and my notes in my lap, running through each technique in my mind and particularly going over in succession (without referring to my notes) all of the sets of technique that I would have to independently determine and call out (ie. the "any 5" sets, Henka Waza, Kaeshi Waza and all the weapons work).

We got into Saskatoon on Friday evening, I carb-loaded with a pasta dinner and after a bit of socializing with our billet host, settled in for the night in their basement with some mats and sleeping bags generously loaned to us and thought nothing of it. I stayed up a little to do a bit more visualizing and lay down to sleep. Or so I thought I would. Now it used to be that as recently as in my twenties I could sleep pretty much anywhere and have a great night's rest. I could sleep on a floor. I could sleep curled up in an armchair in a strange position. It didn't really matter. I ...More Read More
Views: 4106 | Comments: 3

In Testing Pre-Shodan Periodization Training Notes Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #247 New 03-27-2009 12:47 PM
EVALUATION NOTES - Current Strengths & Weaknesses (from greatest to weakest)

- good form
- smoothness of movement on techniques I know well
- stability at the end of throws (though still need to eliminate "hopping" to maintain balance/need to lower more)
- extension

- power
- speed
- timing on certain techniques (mostly Ikkyo's beginning and Koshinage's middle part)
- centre sometimes lifting up on upward-movements

FROM PREVIOUS MACROCYCLE (leading up to Ikkyu test seminar)

Competitive Microcycle: 1 WEEK (March 16-20, 2009)
- Rest break from all conditioning
- Continued test-specific training, run-throughs
- Addition of technique visualization

MACROCYCLE: 52 WEEKS (starting March 23, 2009)

MESOCYCLE 1 - TRANSITION PERIOD (post-Ikkyu test seminar): 2 WEEKS, 1-2

- Week 1 (Restorative Microcyle): Rest break from all but Aikido (with break from specific test technique practice)
- Week 2: Return to adding Kettlebell training to above; addition of stability/rooting exercises on off-days

MESOCYCLE 2 - BASE MESOCYCLE: 8 WEEKS (April 6 - May 29, 2009), 3-10

- Continue Kettlebell training 3x/week and add heavy bag work/striking practice (gradually transition back to heavier weight training regimen during last 3-4 weeks)
- Return to HIIT sprinting on off-days and add sport-specific exercises, some with or without Medicine Ball (ie. Additional variations of squats, stability/rooting exercises, Med Bal ...More Read More
Views: 2796 | Comments: 2

In Testing My Pride VS The Dojo Curse Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #244 New 03-19-2009 01:34 PM
To test or not to test, that is the question.


Last night, Sensei ran me through my mock Ikkyo test. The only things we didn't go over were the optional weapons portion (ie. tanto/tachi/jo-dori).

Feedback from Sensei ranged from specific...
- on Yokomenuchi Kaitennage (ura), making this more distinct from omote by cutting uke's arm more away from his centre (I need to remember to grab uke's sleeve to do this well)
- needing to perform Ushiro Ryotedori Koshinage "Ikkyo"-style (arching up uke's arm)

...to general - from big things:
- really needing better extension throughout all Koshinage

...to little things:
- throwing out more (not so much down) on Iriminage
- keeping a wider base before the throw on Shihonage (instead of this nasty habit I've picked up of bringing my feet together just after the last pivot before it)


The verdict from Sensei was that it was a competent test that, had I performed it for Kawahara Sensei the same way (even with the few bumpy bits), it would definitely have been a pass. The thing is, I've never been one to be satisfied with just a pass.

While I was pleased at how much I was actually able to recall (memorizing my lists and doing a lot of visualization beforehand really helped), I still don't feel like the test was as "solid" as I would have liked. I don't know if I can really help the standard I've set for myself. Up to this point, every test I've done has been smooth - no "brain farts", ...More Read More
Views: 2158 | Comments: 3

In Testing One week to the seminar! Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #243 New 03-13-2009 03:04 PM
Just a scant four more classes, including tonight, until our impending doom - I mean, test. How ready am I? Tough to say. Sensei seems to think so. And our dojo has a policy of not letting you test until you are beyond ready.

We drive out next Friday.

Personally? Well...I feel like:
- my body is well-conditioned
- I have a great nutritional plan (though the foodie in me is absolutely sick of slow cooker turkey and baked salmon and fully intends to celebrate with sushi after all is said and done) - I start the pre-event Creatine tomorrow and intend to carb-load the night before the seminar
- my asthma is under control (and now very little is left of the nagging cough and chest congestion from that cold from weeks ago)
- my post-workout recovery could be better but I'm also planning on increasing my sleep next week

The only thing that remains is to have confidence. That, and run through:
- Jodori
- Hanmi-handachi Ushiro-waza (any 5 techniques)
- 5 Kokyunage (any attacks)

What I really want to do is run through the whole darn thing from start to bitter end to get a feel for the thing, well, as a whole. That would make me feel much better - at least in better knowing the gaps in my memory.

Of course, whether Jeremy and I even test all depends on The Man. Kawahara Shihan will watch us like a hawk during the seminar and determine from what he sees if he wants us to test for Ikkyu there. In other words, I will have to be prepared to practice techn ...More Read More
Views: 1423

In Testing Sports Periodization and Ikkyu Prep Update Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #242 New 02-15-2009 01:59 PM
I may have mentioned it in the past, but after some research, I've been dabbling in applying sports periodization theory to both preparing for Ikkyu and eventually for Shodan. We just found out that the Saskatoon Spring Seminar is scheduled for the weekend of March 21st and that in mind, I'm now able to revisit my strategies and be more specific about the latter phases leading up to the test.

Macrocycle #1 (Ikkyu Preparation) Summary

Preparatory Phase:
38 weeks, November 2007 to September 2008 (4 weeks off in Summer)
- regular training, both general and specific
- primarily resistance training (no HIIT yet)

Base Phase:
19 weeks, September 2008 to February 13, 2009
- regular training, some general: increased focus on specific test techniques
- resistance training with addition of HIIT

Build Phase:
4 weeks, now until March 13, 2009
- increase intensity (sole focus on specific training; a return to my alternate, heavier-load resistance training regimen; additional HIIT; addition of plyometrics)
- more frequent test run-throughs from start to finish
- videotaping of test run-throughs for evaluation
- meal/nutritional planning focus on high GI foods

Peak Phase:
1 week, March 13th to 20th, 2009
- restoration/taper down period pre-seminar
- return to kettlebell conditioning regimen and less HIIT
- continue specific training and test run-throughs
- continued nutritional focus on high GI foods
Views: 1789

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