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Well I haven't posted for a while, just been showing up and training (when work and health allow ). On the whole it's been good and I'm feeling like I am moving much more smoothly again, and learning
We had our house Shidoin Peter Brown Sensei down last month to teach a course at our dojo which went really well and I learned loads from him. He emphasised that unless you are taking uke's balance, then you haven't distracted his mind sufficiently, as the goal is to get him to switch from thinking about attacking you to thinking about staying upright I thought that was really cool and an excellent way of thinking about Aikido!
I also taught a class when Sensei was away in Japan in November, and after that realised that I don't need to be nervous about teaching (which just came from not having done any for ages!). Now Sensei wants me to teach when he can't make it, along with our 1st kyu student
In preparation I have been mentally noting the things our students have difficulty with, common errors, and any weak points, so that I can tackle these in my next class. Sometimes it helps to have a different teacher occasionally, as they may explain something in a way that a student suddenly understands, having struggled with it before. I certainly found that true for me when our 1st kyu student taught a class and helped me loads
Just to make sure I get the timings right, I still prefer to write down what to teach and how long to allow for each activity
It's been a while since my last entry, but I have been training on and off (mainly off, due to work )And I'm also planning my wedding, which will be in 6 weeks time
I went to one class taught by our 2nd kyu, while Sensei was away at UKA Summer School, which was really good We worked on breathing and how this can help or hinder your technique. At the start of class, our 2nd kyu said he didn't think he could teach me anything (I'm nidan), to which I replied "Want a bet? I've learned loads from kyu graded students over the years! Also, it is best that you take this class because teaching is one of the best ways of making sure you know something."
I also learned form him the UKA method of gyaku-hami katatedori ikkyo, which is not the same as I'd done before
Upon his return, Sensei was on a crusade to improve our ukemi skills I'm very happy with this because it's always been my weak point. We've done a few exercises which have helped me to keep my wrist in my centre, follow appropriately, and fall in a soft and more controlled way. I'm still very wary of taking high falls due to my back injury, but found myself on the receiving end of Sensei's koshinage last Friday He lowered me down gently so I was ok, but I'm not convinced I can do this yet..
Last week I managed to throw our 2nd kyu too far We were doing jujinage, not my favourite technique and I was struggling. At one point I was throwing our 2nd kyu when I heard Sensei call
Friday class started out quiet - only myself and our 3rd kyu student at first, but then our 4th kyu and an ungraded guy I hadn't met before turned up
We did gyaku-hanmi nikyo, which was good to help strength train the wrists - they are getting stronger now Iriminage, more of the dreaded katagatame which wasn't fun with a sore shoulder, and then my absolute favourite YONKYO
Sensei had me do some on him as well (masochist ), and I tried to explain to our 4th kyu how to push the pain away (not easy on the end of one of my yonkyos ) but he was getting it and able to resist more
Neither of our soon-to-be 6th kyus were there (the grading is on Tuesday ), nor was our 2nd kyu, but for the sake of his damaged arm I was glad he didn't train! I also suggested to Sensei that our 2nd kyu doesn't take much ukemi in the gradings either as there are enough of us to be ukes who aren't so injured
After Tuesday I'm working long hours so won't be back on the tatami again until 7th August Hope I don't soften up too much in the meantime...
Making up for no classes last week, I decided to train at both Tuesday and Friday class this week
We had a complete beginner at today's class, along with myself, our somewhat injured 2nd kyu, our 4th kyu and one of our soon-to-be-graded to 6th kyu students.. The relative humidity has been particularly high in SE England lately, so although it wasn't especially hot, we were all dripping like waterfalls not long into class
Sensei did a lot of explaining of basic ettiquette for the new chap's benefit, then launched into gyaku-hanmi shihonage. Training with our 2nd kyu I tried to be careful on his injured left arm (he's suffering the aftermath of over-enthusiastic sankyo by our house Shidoin) and attempted to control through the shoulder. I got into trouble for not keeping hold of his arm with both my hands as he went to the floor, but I didn't want to twist his lower arm
I was also struggling to keep an upright posture while controlling uke on the floor at the end of the technique. I suspect it may be a proportion problem - us ladies have longer legs and shorter arms than the guys, making it very difficult for us to do this without a) letting go of uke's arm b) bending at the waist or c) losing balance and ending up on one or both knees...
Next we did uchi kaitenage, and introduced the new guy to the concept of forward ukemi I took him to the point of balance a few times, then showed him how to roll from kneeling on the floor, had
One of our prospective 6th kyu students was put through a mock grading towards the end of class. He did ok, except for going too fast through nerves!
It's good that Sensei does this as it lets people know what's expected of them
During the last technique of class (always suwari-waza kokyu-ho), I was partnered with our 2nd kyu student, and he was doing his best to be a slippery fish by wriggling out of my control while on the ground... I knew there had to be a way to control him, so I persevered until I found it Some distant memories of how assorted instructors have shown this technique, combined with how the 2nd kyu was doing this technique with me as uke, supplied the answer. I kept my arms very wide, and moved quickly enough that my centre was overpowering his ability to escape, and lo - one pinned slippery fish
A hot, sweaty and intensive session - the weather has been particularly warm lately and the church hall was like an oven when we arrived
Only myself and one of our soon-to grade for the first time students turned up for class, so we did some 'polishing' for his upcoming 6th kyu test...
It was very useful for me to run through the basics again, as they are not identical to what I learned before, and I don't want to give anybody in my dojo wrong information!
Sensei trained in a group of 3 with us, and it was hard going for unfit me I had to have a puff of the inhaler as the pollen count is very high and I get hayfever related asthma sometimes when I exercise. However, I kept going, as improving my fitness is one of my goals in Aiki
I was struggling with kotegaeshi omote, as usual... One day it will make sense... I was also messing up on nikyo ura - until I paid attention to Sensei's initial movement and realised that I needed to get uke's balance by drawing their arm out a little rather than trying to skip around their back immediately In the UKA this technique starts like ikkyo ura - in previous styles it was generally applied right away, so more brain-re-training needed
Our other student was screwing shihonage on me pretty tightly, and doing the old 'flushing the chain' to end the technique Sensei corrected this and made sure he was moving forward to throw rather than stepping back. My ukemi w
Tonight we'd reserved for dojo maintainence, as there was a 6 inch tear along the seam of the canvas, and several tatami needed taping up. Afterwards would be a short class if there was time...
The haberdashery in my town's department store recommended a pack of general purpose tough repair needles (hippo spears ) and linen thread to do the canvas repair. The thread was great because it matched the canvas exactly, and apparently is also used to mend shoes
I took my metal sewing thimble, and tried out a few different sizes of hippo spear needle on the canvas to see which one would work best... the thinnest needle began to bend quickly, so I picked the next size up which was spear-pointed like a leather needle.
Even so, it was the toughest repair job I have ever done - my blood and sweat went into it, but no tears It took me the full 2 hours, so Sensei took the rest of the class to the end of the hall to do weapons on the sports hall floor as they finished the taping job more quickly!
Fortunately my fingers have mostly healed and my thumb tips no longer feel like they've gone 10 rounds with a meat tenderizer... My back feels better too after running around helping out at my archery club's open tournament all weekend - sitting hunched on the floor isn't good, but with a canvas that size there was no other option
I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, but the true test will be next Friday when we unfold the canvas and tension it
Today's class was one of those classes where everyone just had so much FUN
Afterwards Sensei commented that there was great spirit in the class
We did a variety of techniques, some basic, some complex, including a variation of the 'goose-neck' immobilisation used by the police which I can never figure out - fortunately I was working with our youngest (and brightest) student who figured it out from working it backwards We have to be careful with him as he's only 12 years old so joint locks are not applied!
I have noticed that I'm shaping up better these days - moving my body around is good for it - so although I'm still about 12lbs overweight it's not hanging off me so much It would be good to start doing both classes per week, but with an imminent house-move and a lot of work commitments it's not fair or practical right now Perhaps in the autumn after the move when I'll be living closer to the dojo...
One thing I particularly like about Sensei's teaching is that after he has demonstrated a technique several times on uke, he then asks uke to demonstrate the same technique on him This means that he can show the correct ukemi, the various options for breakfalls, and also check that his teaching was clear enough that uke can replicate the technique..
I also learned that juniors should train at the end of the mat so there is less chance somebody can fall on them during class - as I've not done the Coachi
Attended another basics class, as I can't make Friday class due to work
This time we had a completely new student on the mat, for his first ever class, and Sensei ran through a LOT of techniques!! I hope the poor guy wasn't thinking he ought to remember any of them by the end
The new guy was very keen and very flexible, so applying shihonage to him was a bit of a nightmare - he kept twisting out of the technique instead of flowing with it Sensei explained that he had to go with the flow, as we wouldn't be applying techniques hard and fast to him until he has learned to take the ukemi As it was, he was suffering from the usual tangle of legs and lack of co-ordination in lowering his body to the ground, so we were taking it easy on him! Towards the end of class I cranked a shihonage on him with a little more power and heard / felt his shoulder crunch whoops! but he didn't twist out of that one He said he was ok, and that was probably what he needed to help him understand where he was supposed to move to
I got to train with our 2nd kyu student for one technique, ai-hanmi nikyo. This is a fun one, because a few years ago I learned how to apply this one in the context of controlling uke's centre, rather than relying on the pain response Asked uke to resist with full power, and after a bit of a struggle, was able to do it, keeping the wrist fairly close to my centre, staying relaxed, and aiming my power through his arm