Gasshuku Weekend and Public Demonstration, Feb. 18
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Gasshuku Weekend and Public Demonstration, Feb. 18
02-20-2006 12:00 PM
I am so sore, it's not even funny. Actually, I can't help but laugh ---
here I am at work, and my biceps ache every time I use the date stamp!
I did a tally and we must have done just over 10 hours of training this
weekend, including the demo for friends and family last night. Whew! Where
Doug Reichert from Aikido of Winnipeg was good enough to take time out
of his busy schedule and come by as a guest instructor in Iwama style and he
brought some of his students to train with us as well. As with the last
Gasshuku we did with members of his dojo in the past year, it was great to
be able to experience both the differences
and most importantly, the fundamental similarities between Iwama and
Aikikai. The former, as some of us noticed, had a great deal more
linear/flat elements of movement that --- as we saw --- were just as vital
in their adaptations to differing situations, depending upon the
kind of energy uke gives you. Being able to see and feel the differences
firsthand and back-to-back proved invaluable. It was also great to see and practice with some of the usual suspects from the other dojo again, like Alissa's friend Gillian.
In a nutshell:
This weekend, we got to have a taste of some new and different
stretching warmups (much to Garry's chagrin, though I hadn't done so since
uh, elementary school, I really did want to do a handstand (!) and he had a
heck of a time having to try to hold me up, let me tell you --- naturally,
it took both Matt and Reichert Sensei to hold Sempai Jeremy up :-D),
variations on traditional exercises (such as Tae no Henka and Kokyudosa),
and revisiting the usual waza (such as Kokyuho, Kotegaeshi, Shihonage and
Koshinage). Just "loading" uke on the latter proved to be a lot of fun, as
Sensei caught us goofing off on videotape; I'm sure it had a great deal to
do with us (at least the hardcore bunch who attended both days) all being quite
exhausted nearing the end of the last training day. At the very least, I
couldn't resist doing my best "Splinter Cell" impersonation, walking around
with Lisa over my hips as the "body" I needed to dump in a dark corner. ;-)
We also dabbled a bit in some Iwama-style weapons practice, doing exchanges
between Jo and Bokken. As before, it was quite challenging to try to adapt
to the different stance and striking method (enables one to raise a weapon
without hitting it on say, a doorway) and "start-stop" way of breaking down
the exchange in practice. At this level, our own Sensei has been
encouraging us to make all of our exchanges flowing and continuous,
which was quite the habit to try to break --- much, I am sure, to Reichert
Sensei's chagrin. :-D
Among the usual, traditional waza, our own Sensei Hay covered some
Kaeshi waza, which I was particularly looking forward to, since we
hadn't done some of this for a while now (though it used to be that we'd
do Kaeshi waza and Henka waza fairly regularly on Fridays). I love
getting the opportunity to feel transitions between techniques and
intent behind movement and wish we'd do more of this on a regular basis.
Hay Sensei also covered some Randori, which was a fun challenge while
working with members of the other dojo --- feeling the energy that "new
people" bring to their attacks as uke and having to adapt to them is
The one disappointment I had this weekend was that so few of our own
students attended the Gasshuku (and even fewer were around to take part in
the demonstration) --- even a couple of core students didn't show up, which
was really surprising. The one thing we could always count on when Sempai
Jeff and J.E. were around is that there would be no way you could just get
away with not showing up for something as important to the dojo as that. I
thought at the very least, those new students who (as of yet) are unable to
attend seminars would have been eager to get a taste of this type of
training, especially in a differing style. I know that when I was unranked,
the thought of doing anything even remotely similar to what say, an
uchideshi would do (ie. train all day) was very cool to me.
The demonstration went well, though it was just me, Jeremy, Ken, Matt and
Lisa (and Trevor showed at the last minute to do some rolling with us). I
know Sensei was wanting us all to have fun (which we did) but I kept getting
mixed messages --- he does have quite a few perfectionist tendencies that
seep out now and then, and it really keeps you on edge and makes you feel
self-conscious sometimes. Initially, I felt a little nervous and could even
feel my breathing go heavy, but after a few shots of Ventolin (not to
mention some very desparate prayer) was right as rain.
Aside from rolling and Shikko (the spinning version of which I was made to
demonstrate alone --- eek!), I demo'ed some Suwari Waza with Ken, Matt &
Lisa (due to Jeremy's bum knee), Tachi Waza with Jeremy, both 13-step weapons kata with
him and Ken and we all took a heck of a lot of Kokyunage ukemi for Sensei.
In an unprecedented move, Sensei did the Jo exchanges we had planned with
Jeremy and instead let me do the Randori part of the demo.
I can only describe it as both an extremely exciting and nerve-wracking experience, to be completely on one's own in demonstrating Aikido like that...I mean, I *love* Randori. Anyone who knows me well knows that. But in such a situation, there's always this underlying fear that I'm going to screw up and completely wreck peoples' impressions of Aikido. But I calmed my nerves, took a deep breath and did it anyway. Jeremy, Ken and Lisa were the gracious victims --- er, ukes. ;-) The first round (which I believe was the better of the two) was defending against Ryokata attacks alone and the second against random attacks. Though I felt they weren't my best Randori --- not by a long shot --- Sensei insisted that I performed well and made a very good impression; as he said, he had the luxury of being able to watch people watching me do Randori and was able to see the excitement it seemed to generate. Apparently there were times when it seemed like I was about to be cornered by everyone and it would be all over, but would manage to pop out of harm's way at the last second, much to the pleasure of some of the women in the audience.
I always wished that a lot of guys would fall for me. I just should have been more specific. ;-)
Sensei has promised that tonight's class will be a mild one --- thank God. Right now, I'm also thanking God for chocolate (I made a Chocolate Trifle for the Saturday night potluck and it turned out to be absolutely delicious), red wine, hot baths and massages I was fortunate enough to imbibe in last night, post-Gasshuku. I am just as thankful that my co-worker had some Ibuprofen on her and am now totally looking forward to some well-earned sushi after class tonight --- you better believe it!
Favourite soundbytes of the weekend...
Me: (not used to practicing with a light Bokken) "Just a sec, Matt, I need to get a heavier Bokken."
Reichert Sensei: (to Matt) "Uh oh, she's bringing out the heavier weapon --- now what does that say about *you*?"
Matt: "No, more importantly, what does that say about *her*?"
Craig from the other dojo: (after his round of Randori, post-lunch) "I shouldn't have gone for the Beef and Barley soup."
Hay Sensei: (later) "Now what fundamental things have you learned about Randori?"
Me: "...not to have Beef and Barley soup beforehand?"
Me: "Where did you and Garry end up going for lunch?"
Ken: "McDonald's. I had a Big Mac."
Me: "That was a bad idea, man. Bad idea."
Ken: (not too long into practice afterwards) "Ugghhhh..."
Me: (to Garry, as we're practicing together afterwards) "You better keep that Filet 'o Fish down, man."
Sensei: (throwing Jeremy during the demonstration) "Eek! He got caught in my skirt!"
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