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My "nightly" practices have flagged a bit. After a series of birthdays, camping trips, and a few different kinds of employment-related stress, I've noticed I haven't been as gung ho to go out and practice. This week I've been a bit better though. The last few nights I've practiced for about an hour each; I've also been trying to make it a point to think more about how I'm using my body throughout the day. The night before last, I was going at it more vigorously than I thought because last night certain muscles in my chest were sore. It's related to the way I tend to cut with my left arm; I tend to squeeze/slide my humorus against my body...probably with too much muscle tension?
Last night and the night before I tried to focus on balancing the left and right sides of my chest and shoulders, which seemed to relax my neck so it felt more like it was a helmet balancing on a stick (the image I try to have in mind). Barrish Sensei has told me a few different times that one feeling I should strive for is to be ready to head-butt aite at any moment. This means (and/or seems to mean) relaxing the upper torso and generally "sitting back" in my posture a bit more. So for a while I tried to do suburi with this feeling of activating my upper spine and head; experimenting a little with shomenuchi and yokomenuchi strikes. I tried little rotations of the head while doing this to see how it affected the line(s) of tension. As usual, I thought I saw some interesting dynamics, but not quite sure. Right now the general goal of my solo practice is to develope improved "body-feel," a concept I think I got from Bruce Lee's, Tao of Jeet Kun Do; to develop a visceral sense of my anatomy in action. Relaxing has always seemed like the key to finding the body; a tension blocks attention...or something like that.
As usual, I also tried to focus on femoral rotation, feeling how the two sides of the hips interact. Sometimes it feels like I'm making progress with regard to balancing tension and relaxing the hip muscles, but more often than not I just feel like a bundle of over-tight ropes that restricts my own ability to move freely.
One thing that continually strikes me is how much I love being out in nature. These night time suburi sessions have almost become a real habit and I'm enjoying them a lot for the mental and physical refresher I've been getting from them. Last night a family of raccoons stopped by for some of the fine variety of beetle we've been keeping in our yard; the other evening a white heron (I think) flew overhead, which looked pretty cool in the night sky; and the stars are always fun to practice under. Their fixed position in the sky (apart from their gradual transition across it) has been fun to line up cuts and other movements with. A few neighborhood cats like to come hang out every once in a while too.
My cousin is getting married this weekend so no keiko tonight or saturday. I'm already looking forward to training next week and am hoping I'm still making some progress. On a related note: for some reason last night I had a hard time focusing on waza, which is one of my main goals right now. Tonight I think I will run through the gokyu and yonkyu list to refresh my memory.