View Full Version : Moving up to the Mixed

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03-04-2017, 03:02 PM
So this is I suppose an inquiry specifically directed at aikidoka from skill-split classes.

Today I'm feeling pretty proud, surprised and happy because whilst partnering with my sensei at a seminar he told me I am ready to begin progressing to the mixed group. This was particularly surprising because I have only been training nearly 6 months and every other beginner (6-7) I have seen advance has taken 8-9 months prior to starting the transition to the other class (not intending to humblebrag, sorry!). I do have concerns as the stars aligned during the technique we were doing when he made the suggestion and I managed to do a pretty complicated technique well several times, despite my uncertainty and confusion with other partners before (so I feel as if it is a slight deception if he was impressed by this). During the beginner classes everything is gradually coming more "together" and I can understand and follow on the majority of techniques and classes, but it does still happen that I have confused or "completely can't get it" moments. Considering these are the easier techniques being taught in this class should it not be that I am completely confident with these before progressing? Because that is certainly not the case yet.

Those uncertainties being outlined, does anyone have any advice or suggestions on how to best prepare for the transition? I am feeling a bit nervous ^^; thank you!

03-04-2017, 03:26 PM
I'm junior to you so I can't help other than say congratulations and enjoy the next level!

Our dojo schedule says some classes are "advanced" but my sempai/sensei tend to ask if I'm staying for the "advanced" class. I've struggled the most in weapons class, but everyone is so patient with me, so I just do my best to follow instructions and show up to classes.

The dojo seems focused at the moment on preparing certain sempai of mine for rank testing in April (couple of guys I know are testing for 4th kyu, don't know what other ranks are to be tested), so maybe that's why I'm being encouraged to attend any class on the schedule, for the time being. Maybe the advanced empty-hand and the weapons class will be truly advanced come May. ;)

Janet Rosen
03-04-2017, 06:26 PM
Accept you will still be confused in two years....

03-04-2017, 06:39 PM
Lol, good one!

My typical reaction during class, after the waza to work on is introduced and demoed is "Uh... wut?".

I recently punched a higher-ranking (north of 3rd dan) yudansha in the stomach by accident with (typical tsuki) because he was so deep in thought in figuring out how to teach me the waza that I was struggling with ("He's not getting it... what do I need to do to teach him?...").

03-04-2017, 11:16 PM
Congratulations on going to the next level Cassia!

But might I ask, what do you mean by a mixed class as I'm also a newbie in Aikido.

03-05-2017, 07:04 AM
Congratulations Cassia. :)

It's always good to feel one is making progress. I always liken it to trying to complete a gigantic puzzle without having a copy of the final picture, only some, often vague instructions on where the pieces should go.

Don't worry too much about being confused. Even after many years of training I still have plenty of confusion.

Since I spent plenty of time screwing up techniques, I did figure out a few common mistakes, which I now, most of the time, can correct in myself, and at least pass on to people junior to me. If the technique isn't going well, usually the problem is one of:

• Your hands aren't in front of your body, but off to the side. Your hands should, most of the time, be in front of you. We don't cook or drive a car with our body twisted to one side, and Aikido is no different.

• Your body is in the wrong direction, maybe even only slightly. If you're running into force, try turning slightly in a different direction until the movement becomes easy.

• You're moving yourself off balance. Focus on moving and turning in a balanced manner (body upright) to a good position to do the technique, then worry about finishing it. We often end up too far from our partner and leaning over, which is no good. We all get stuck on trying to figure out what we should be doing with our arms that we forget to move our body into the correct position, when the technique is a natural movement that comes from a good initial step-and-turn in response to the attack.

Move your body first, going straight or turning as required, keeping your hands in front, without worrying too much about doing the technique on your partner. Then the way to do the technique will feel obvious -- the (movement) path of least resistance quite often.

I still have to remind myself of these things! :) Enjoy your practice in the new class.

03-06-2017, 07:21 AM
Thank you everyone for the advice and congratulations!

Some clarification on what I mean is that at my dojo we have 3 types of classes for adults, "Beginner" which typically lasts 8-9 months, "Mixed" which includes yudansha and white belts, but you have to "graduate" from the Beginner class first when the sensei tells you that you are ready. Usually that means a pretty good command of basic ukemi, not hurting yourself any more, knowing several forms of the most common techniques and know a bit of suwari waza/hanmi handachi waza. We don't do testing until 1st kyu, but based on the time frame and duration until hakama I would estimate that you move from the Beginner classes when you hit 4th kyu. The techniques in the mixed class are more advanced and you learn the more advanced ukemi here (break falls, high falls etc.) as well as being taught exclusively by the dojo cho (with the exception of the 1st kyu prep class taught by yudansha). There is also a Yudansha class held once a week but this is shodan and above only, they deal explicitly with very high level stuff, I have observed these just a few times. We have Bokken split to Beginner-Mixed as well but there are less differences there, you just need to know the basics to move up, I moved to the Mixed for this about a month ago.

Re being confused all the time, well, that's not explicitly true for me (not all the time) but 1-2 techniques a class might have me stumped on a specific element. More often than not, hand/arm position (think of doing techniques from an ushiro position, the worst!). Sometimes recently I haven't had trouble at all in a class but other times I can't seem to do anything, which I try to allow myself because it's understandable but it can be disappointing. I have tried recently to focus a lot more on lowering my center of gravity whilst still facing my partner directly as that seems to add a lot of stability to most techniques (balance has not been my strong suit). Distance is harder as it is a cooperative effort, usually not too much of a problem but we have been taught about doing little slides back and forth as we move to adjust if it is an issue. Bokken helped for the hands a lot, they are locked in front of me now unless otherwise preoccupied ;).

It's somewhat Murphys Law though when I train with my senseis or other yudansha though and typically with them is when I mess everything up because I feel a little nervousness about not wanting to be a burden. As well as wanting to "prove" myself of course ;) so we'll see how that works out with partnering more often with people in that description. I have my first session tonight with both classes, for the next few weeks I'll be on 8hrs/week rather than my former 5hrs/week to transition so hopefully all goes well and I'm not too exhausted with the pace change (big seminar on Sat/Sun so I am still a little worn out :P).

03-06-2017, 10:02 AM
My advice would be to not get too attached to what the different levels "mean". In my experience, this depends at least as much on the composition of the dojo as it does on the person who's being "moved up". I've seen people get invited to join our "mixed" class after three or four months, I know students who have trained over a year and have not been invited to join. Some of that's them, some of that's the dojo, who else is training and what the "mixed" class is all about, currently. None of it's static, and at any given moment, the question is, is THIS student ready for THIS class?

In all cases, it's a matter of moving into a deeper part of the pool. Eventually you will learn not to assess yourself as "1-2 techniques a class might have me stumped on a specific element", and realize that the pool is always deeper than you imagine.

03-07-2017, 04:44 AM
Thank you for the clarification Cassia!

In that case I am also in a mixed class even if I only have 6 months of practice and experience the same problems as you. For example, for the past 2 weeks I couldn't do my basic ukemi or something like an iriminage or an ikkyo and felt so ashamed at myself as I am already in the 5th kyu and couldn't even do the basics. My advice is to be relaxed whenever these things happen and try to not think too much on what went wrong or how you're going to be perceived by your fellow aikidoka. I'm not sure if its just for me, but whenever I do an aikido technique I don't really think about the specific steps to do a technique or what would happen if I get it wrong. I just let my body take control of myself and in the end I'm able to execute the technique. Hope this helps!

04-08-2017, 08:05 AM
My advice would be to not get too attached to what the different levels "mean".

Always great to train with advanced students, but there is value in training with all levels.

04-08-2017, 07:28 PM
Don't stress. Just enjoy the training. I've never trained at a large enough dojo to have levels like that. When you have less than 10 people training, then everyone participates whenever they are able!