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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: 820,596

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: 2102 | Comments: 2

In Spiritual Humility: an aiki reminder Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #259 New 03-11-2010 11:47 AM
True humility is to withhold your own power for the good of another.
- John Dickson


I could feel the anger welling up within me, rising like a warm tide flowing up to the tips of my ears. In one fluid movement, I was leaping over the front desk to tackle the first offender - landing a swift punch to his throat but in the process, knocking over the trays of papers and pens that Colleen had so neatly arranged. I would definitely have to tidy up afterward.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the second one behind me - the taller of the two - moving towards me and as he lunged forward, I sprang up and slipped his arms aside. In a split second I was behind him, simultaneously pushing one foot forward behind his knee and one hand upwards under his chin - sending him crashing down to his knees and back.

That wasn't so bad, I thought. They were only Math profs, after all. It wasn't surprising to make such short work of them. But the students stared at me in abject horror.

The whole scenario took less than one second to play itself out in my imagination as I turned back from the filing cabinet to my offenders and handed them their tests, choosing instead to retaliate from their sarcastic barbs with some quick verbal repartée of my own.

Oh well.
Views: 1998 | Comments: 2

In General So what did it take to get to Shodan? Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #258 New 03-10-2010 12:19 AM
Yup, it's rank retrospective time again - this time, however, it's the one you've all been waiting for - well, at least the one I've been building up to all these years: The Ultimate Tally!

Things learned since Ikkyu...

- "The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle." - A Marine Corps motto, apparently based on an old Chinese proverb (Thanks to Greg Koukl for drawing my attention to this highly motivating quote!)
- The confidence that comes from being highly prepared
- That sometimes trying to describe technique with words (even to yourself) can not only be inadequate but highly misleading
- The power of visualization to influence the mind-body connection
- That mnemonic devices are invaluable for condensing a lot of information (such as a long set of test techniques) into smaller "chunks" for quick memory access
- That I look super small next to everyone else (at least in our videos) but when I'm doing Aikido I sure don't feel that way
- That according to Kawahara Sensei, I have "very good Tae Sabaki"
- That I've still got an awful lot to learn

Stats/Little Milestones as of 03/06/10 (* - denotes change since last tally at Ikkyu):

Training w/current dojo since - January 8, 2003


*Number of classes attended - 1533

Number of days extra training on the weekend - over a dozen? (lost count after we started outside practices in Summer 2006)

*Number of seminars attended - 9

Number of other dojos visited while traveling - ...More Read More
Views: 2570 | Comments: 4

In Testing The "Big" Test Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #257 New 03-09-2010 05:54 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: 1854 | Comments: 3

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: 2298 | Comments: 4

In General Consecration Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #255 New 03-05-2010 08:28 AM
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

- Frances R. Havergal (1874)
Views: 1581

In Testing A Prediction of Things to Come Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #254 New 03-03-2010 12:58 PM
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: 2502 | Comments: 9

In Testing Eeeeeeeeeeee! Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #253 New 02-18-2010 03:39 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: 3439 | Comments: 10

In Humor How J.Lo fixed my Koshinage Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #252 New 12-08-2009 01:24 PM
Dear Ms. Lopez,

I wanted to let you know exactly how grateful I am that you are who you are. I know that as a celebrity you get a lot of undue attention from the public and the media in general about a whole lot of things -- some deeply personal and others quite silly and superficial. Pay no attention to them, especially if you hear yet another crass reference to the size of your behind!

It is because of you that this poor little Filipina girl from the ghetto in Winnipeg can now realize her childhood dream of being a world-class martial artist. There has always been this one technique that I have constantly struggled with in the seven years that I've trained in Aikido. You see, unlike you, I was never blessed with much prominence in the posterior. People often mistake us Filipina for being Hispanic and vice versa, but in this particular area of the anatomy there is simply no comparison. Unfortunately, the Koshinage throw that has been giving me so much difficulty called for more of a "shelf" in the rear end upon which to briefly rest the opponent you are throwing. You can imagine the frustration.

It was not until last night, when I thought of this distinctive physical characteristic of yours that after years of struggle, I had a breakthrough -- "If only I had J. Lo's butt," I mused, and (unable to afford cosmetic surgery like someone of your wealth and stature might) wondered what would happen if I merely pretended that I had been more substantially endowed in t ...More Read More
Views: 2758 | Comments: 3

In General A Change in Attitude Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #251 New 09-22-2009 03:21 PM
By early September, we had only been going at test-specific training for about a week when I thought I'd finally had it. I was already sick of it and ready to throw in the towel - Shodan test be damned. So tired of dogging the test stuff, I just wanted to either get back to regular practice or quit entirely.

Whether it was: that recovery from months of overtraining was so slow going; that my allergies seemed to be reaching an almost unbearable peak, triggering not only my asthma but cold-like symptoms; that frustrations about my own technique seemed only to pile up higher and higher until I was telling myself I was nowhere near where I needed to be by Shodan, with the deadline looming above me ever closer…whatever the heck it was, I thought for certain that I was through.

But frustration can only go so far in and of itself. It is, by its nature, a catalyst. That is - whether you like it or not - something's gotta give.

I debated (and still am torn on) whether or not to name this post "The Seven-Year Itch". That I've been practicing Aikido consistently for almost seven years now is more coincidence than anything else. Through the years, I'd given up a great many things in order to train regularly: voluntary and educational opportunities, familial and social events, even the possibility for deeper friendships, when you think about it. Yet I never did so with any form of regret. I'd always known there would have to be some sacrifice in order to attain the level of ...More Read More
Views: 2016 | Comments: 1

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