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I teach Aikido at a small dojo in Winnipeg, Canada. Been doing so for many years now. This blog is just a collection of ruminations on teaching, descriptions of the events of daily practice, and the occasional funny story.
I had my students working on close-quarter striking and defense last night. Here's some of what I told my students:
1. Whether you're attacking or defending, plan ahead (or, at least, don't get attached to what you're doing).
I've noticed that a student who is brand new to randori will focus entirely upon what they are doing at the moment. By this I mean that every action totally absorbs the student's attention until it is completed. If attackers are attacking en masse, one doesn't have the time to observe the full result of one's actions. One must meet the attack, join with it, lead it, and then let it go. This all has to happen seamlessly and quickly without attachment to the end result. The more concerned one is about how one's defensive action has affected the attacker, the less attention they are able to give to the next oncoming attacker. In this condition one is rapidly overcome.
Likewise, when one is defending at close-quarters against, and counter-attacking with, strikes, one must not choose one's next move after the present one is complete. One must, in the midst of deflecting one blow, be choosing and delivering the counter-attack. Actually, one can, to a certain degree, anticipate and even order how one's opponent defends. In so doing one can, in a sense, force one's opponent to open up for an attack (in Aikido we'd say "lead" rather than "force"). But one must multi-task, defending and attacking together, without strong interest in the result of any
No, this ain't about Bruce Lee. Its about my senior female student, Jamie. First time I spoke to Jamie it was over the phone. She was inquiring about practice and I told her it was just a bunch of sweaty guys with whom she'd be training. Didn't phase her one bit. Without missing a beat she said, "So when can I start?" Its been sorta' like that with Jamie ever since.
Jamie's on the small side, but is absolutely determined not to let that be a disadvantage. Like Jeremy, she's a perfectionist and gets frustrated fairly easily. Its been a concern to me to see that her drive for excellence sometimes makes her very unhappy, but if she trains right I'm sure balance will come to her in this area, too. Lately, I've felt her moving with a solidity and strength that one would not expect from someone her size. Its very gratifying as a teacher to see this happening.
Jamie's usually wearing her hair in a ponytail during practice, which she uses to whip her attackers in the face. She says this happens purely by accident. Uh huh, riiiight. Imagine our concern when she shows up with her hair in two ponytails! (I'll have to say something if she starts tying little bits of stone or glass to the ends of them...)
Jamie really enjoys randori. If she gets the new video clips ready sometime soon (ahem, cough, cough) you can see her do her thing. During demos we get quite a reaction from the crowd when this little filipino woman starts planting people into the mat. She turns into this