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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 10:53 PM
One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 272 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 604,450

In Humor How J.Lo fixed my Koshinage Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #252 New 12-08-2009 12:24 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: 2318 | Comments: 3

In General A Change in Attitude Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #251 New 09-22-2009 02:21 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: 1594 | Comments: 1

In General Summertime Blues Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #250 New 08-06-2009 07:58 PM
It's that time of year again. But I don't think it ever got quite this bad back when we had our own permanent dojo space. Summer really sucks the life out of training, or so it would seem...moreso these days.


It hasn't helped that for a large part of the late spring-early summer I found myself suffering from a number of symptoms of overtraining: headaches, insomnia, decreased immunity, even a decrease in enthusiasm for training (if that can be believed). It ended up being a vicious cycle, really, that I'm now certain was caused by lack of sleep and trying to maintain a demanding training regimen without enough recovery time. But I digress.

Since this post is primarily a rant I will at the very least take the time to say a couple of positive observations about training lately, which is that I've been transitioning more and more from learning technique primarily through seeing towards understanding the principles behind it by learning through feeling. I know it sounds really wishy-washy and esoteric, but it has to do with feeling the energy of an attack and understanding where it's going (thereby knowing what to do with it). It's meant that I've been doing a lot more to catch timing and blend - but making a point of moving with an attack earlier on that I originally would have...as a result the connections have been feeling much smoother. Being Sensei's primary demo uke over the summer while others have been away has meant that in a way I've had n ...More Read More
Views: 1228

In Miscellaneous Ikkyu - A Retrospective Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #249 New 04-04-2009 11:14 AM
Yes, I've procrastinated on writing this one. I just wasn't looking forward to doing all the stats tallying, but it's finally done. Enjoy!

Things learned since Nikkyu...

About movement and the art:

- The power of Kiai and its connection to Kokyu and Hara
- Proper alignment makes technique feel smooth and almost effortless
- Under pressure and with intense focus or "Mushin", the body can act (with seeming independence) to perform technique out of pure instinct due to practice/repetition
- The importance of visualization

About me:

- I've finally come to see my size more for its potential advantages and am noticing creative ways to adapt more often than I used to
- I get into this "zone" when I test and sometimes even when I'm attacking in Jiyu Waza. So much so, that I can even forget who I'm supposed to be attacking. :-D
- I really overthink things, but thankfully this happens more after-the-fact and not in the moments where decisiveness counts
- I have a strong sense of club pride that has been passed down to me from my own Sempai and while I hope to pass some of that on to the junior students, I'm now more conscious than ever of its impact on the energy of practice and the dynamics in the dojo


- I have had no new joint injuries over the past two years since my last rank and am convinced that this is due to resistance training and conditioning with weights
- The nutritional choices I've made for before and during seminars have h ...More Read More
Views: 1431 | Comments: 1 (1 Private)

In Testing Ah, Ikkyu: that Cruel Mistress Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #248 New 03-27-2009 10:08 PM

So much for getting lots of sleep before last weekend's seminar.

In between preparing homemade deer jerky for the drive, Thursday night was spent going over Jodori and Tachidori as well as a couple of things that were still rather hazy in my memory. I was tired, cranky, utterly frustrated with myself and looking back on it I exhibited almost all the signs of overtraining. I didn't get to bed until 2AM. During the long drive out on Friday, I did get to sleep in fits and spurts in the car but mostly in between a great deal of visualizing - sitting there with the test and my notes in my lap, running through each technique in my mind and particularly going over in succession (without referring to my notes) all of the sets of technique that I would have to independently determine and call out (ie. the "any 5" sets, Henka Waza, Kaeshi Waza and all the weapons work).

We got into Saskatoon on Friday evening, I carb-loaded with a pasta dinner and after a bit of socializing with our billet host, settled in for the night in their basement with some mats and sleeping bags generously loaned to us and thought nothing of it. I stayed up a little to do a bit more visualizing and lay down to sleep. Or so I thought I would. Now it used to be that as recently as in my twenties I could sleep pretty much anywhere and have a great night's rest. I could sleep on a floor. I could sleep curled up in an armchair in a strange position. It didn't really matter. I ...More Read More
Views: 3401 | Comments: 3

In Testing Pre-Shodan Periodization Training Notes Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #247 New 03-27-2009 12:47 PM
EVALUATION NOTES - Current Strengths & Weaknesses (from greatest to weakest)

- good form
- smoothness of movement on techniques I know well
- stability at the end of throws (though still need to eliminate "hopping" to maintain balance/need to lower more)
- extension

- power
- speed
- timing on certain techniques (mostly Ikkyo's beginning and Koshinage's middle part)
- centre sometimes lifting up on upward-movements

FROM PREVIOUS MACROCYCLE (leading up to Ikkyu test seminar)

Competitive Microcycle: 1 WEEK (March 16-20, 2009)
- Rest break from all conditioning
- Continued test-specific training, run-throughs
- Addition of technique visualization

MACROCYCLE: 52 WEEKS (starting March 23, 2009)

MESOCYCLE 1 - TRANSITION PERIOD (post-Ikkyu test seminar): 2 WEEKS, 1-2

- Week 1 (Restorative Microcyle): Rest break from all but Aikido (with break from specific test technique practice)
- Week 2: Return to adding Kettlebell training to above; addition of stability/rooting exercises on off-days

MESOCYCLE 2 - BASE MESOCYCLE: 8 WEEKS (April 6 - May 29, 2009), 3-10

- Continue Kettlebell training 3x/week and add heavy bag work/striking practice (gradually transition back to heavier weight training regimen during last 3-4 weeks)
- Return to HIIT sprinting on off-days and add sport-specific exercises, some with or without Medicine Ball (ie. Additional variations of squats, stability/rooting exercises, Med Bal ...More Read More
Views: 2349 | Comments: 2

In Training March 20-21st Saskatoon Seminar Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #245 New 03-23-2009 10:21 PM
What a long weekend. Boy, do I feel bagged. Two seminar days aside, it doesn't help that we got so very little sleep on Thursday and Friday night; we also encountered some really thick fog on the way back home last night that kept me wide awake as Jon's second set of eyes on the road in the dark, so most of the drive was spent warily alert when I could have been sleeping. :-P We got back into the city around 1 last night and although I didn't have to work today and slept in, I could still use some shuteye. I'm surprised we weren't all absolutely kooky during class tonight.

Kawahara Sensei seems to be doing better with his health, from the looks of things - at the very least he was certainly in good spirits. Although a translator was not present at this particular seminar, I actually found Sensei relatively easier to understand - I think that he made a point of trying to state very clearly (or as clearly as possible) what we should and shouldn't be doing and even went so far as to try to break down techniques into steps, counting in Japanese as he moved through them.

In a way, I think that in not having as much verbal instruction, one is able to concentrate far more on the visual information they are receiving. Case in point, I took an American Sign Language (ASL) immersion course some time ago where you could only sign (or even just fingerspell) to communicate - you weren't allowed to talk. In spite of this, a number of the other students still tried to whisp ...More Read More
Views: 1272

In Testing My Pride VS The Dojo Curse Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #244 New 03-19-2009 01:34 PM
To test or not to test, that is the question.


Last night, Sensei ran me through my mock Ikkyo test. The only things we didn't go over were the optional weapons portion (ie. tanto/tachi/jo-dori).

Feedback from Sensei ranged from specific...
- on Yokomenuchi Kaitennage (ura), making this more distinct from omote by cutting uke's arm more away from his centre (I need to remember to grab uke's sleeve to do this well)
- needing to perform Ushiro Ryotedori Koshinage "Ikkyo"-style (arching up uke's arm)

...to general - from big things:
- really needing better extension throughout all Koshinage

...to little things:
- throwing out more (not so much down) on Iriminage
- keeping a wider base before the throw on Shihonage (instead of this nasty habit I've picked up of bringing my feet together just after the last pivot before it)


The verdict from Sensei was that it was a competent test that, had I performed it for Kawahara Sensei the same way (even with the few bumpy bits), it would definitely have been a pass. The thing is, I've never been one to be satisfied with just a pass.

While I was pleased at how much I was actually able to recall (memorizing my lists and doing a lot of visualization beforehand really helped), I still don't feel like the test was as "solid" as I would have liked. I don't know if I can really help the standard I've set for myself. Up to this point, every test I've done has been smooth - no "brain farts", ...More Read More
Views: 1802 | Comments: 3

In Testing One week to the seminar! Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #243 New 03-13-2009 03:04 PM
Just a scant four more classes, including tonight, until our impending doom - I mean, test. How ready am I? Tough to say. Sensei seems to think so. And our dojo has a policy of not letting you test until you are beyond ready.

We drive out next Friday.

Personally? Well...I feel like:
- my body is well-conditioned
- I have a great nutritional plan (though the foodie in me is absolutely sick of slow cooker turkey and baked salmon and fully intends to celebrate with sushi after all is said and done) - I start the pre-event Creatine tomorrow and intend to carb-load the night before the seminar
- my asthma is under control (and now very little is left of the nagging cough and chest congestion from that cold from weeks ago)
- my post-workout recovery could be better but I'm also planning on increasing my sleep next week

The only thing that remains is to have confidence. That, and run through:
- Jodori
- Hanmi-handachi Ushiro-waza (any 5 techniques)
- 5 Kokyunage (any attacks)

What I really want to do is run through the whole darn thing from start to bitter end to get a feel for the thing, well, as a whole. That would make me feel much better - at least in better knowing the gaps in my memory.

Of course, whether Jeremy and I even test all depends on The Man. Kawahara Shihan will watch us like a hawk during the seminar and determine from what he sees if he wants us to test for Ikkyu there. In other words, I will have to be prepared to practice techn ...More Read More
Views: 1106

In Testing Sports Periodization and Ikkyu Prep Update Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #242 New 02-15-2009 01:59 PM
I may have mentioned it in the past, but after some research, I've been dabbling in applying sports periodization theory to both preparing for Ikkyu and eventually for Shodan. We just found out that the Saskatoon Spring Seminar is scheduled for the weekend of March 21st and that in mind, I'm now able to revisit my strategies and be more specific about the latter phases leading up to the test.

Macrocycle #1 (Ikkyu Preparation) Summary

Preparatory Phase:
38 weeks, November 2007 to September 2008 (4 weeks off in Summer)
- regular training, both general and specific
- primarily resistance training (no HIIT yet)

Base Phase:
19 weeks, September 2008 to February 13, 2009
- regular training, some general: increased focus on specific test techniques
- resistance training with addition of HIIT

Build Phase:
4 weeks, now until March 13, 2009
- increase intensity (sole focus on specific training; a return to my alternate, heavier-load resistance training regimen; additional HIIT; addition of plyometrics)
- more frequent test run-throughs from start to finish
- videotaping of test run-throughs for evaluation
- meal/nutritional planning focus on high GI foods

Peak Phase:
1 week, March 13th to 20th, 2009
- restoration/taper down period pre-seminar
- return to kettlebell conditioning regimen and less HIIT
- continue specific training and test run-throughs
- continued nutritional focus on high GI foods
Views: 1432

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