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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: 817,631

In General A Smackin' Good Time Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #167 New 02-19-2005 01:50 AM
A non-technical, completely-useless, silly entry for once...just to prove that I do have a personality. ;-)

For some reason, trying to recall last night's class draws a complete blank in my mind. All I know is that I woke up today feeling like I had been hit by a truck. Just about every limb ached like you wouldn't believe. Must have been some class. :-D

Naturally, I went back for more tonight. I wasn't disappointed.

We did dive rolls for a change of pace and since it was Sensei as the "piggy in the middle" (as we call it), I figured I'd risk trying the higher rolls for a change (since it would often be Garry or Jim in the middle, I was always afraid of falling on them and injuring them). I actually made it over (woohoo!)...but not without some pretty bumpy landings (gotta extend my arms better) and not without cutting my finger pretty deeply on my own fingernail (for heaven's sake). And I had just trimmed them too. Sheesh.

Anyhoo, we practiced mostly defenses from kicks (what is it with Fridays and kicking, anyway?) which is always enjoyably painful. Despite this, it's good practice with timing, which I happen to like.

The rest of the class was dedicated to a great deal more Randori (with Tanto) than we normally would do in a night. Usually, we'd only have time for just a couple of rounds each, but tonight we each must have done four rounds. No complaints there, since I sure as hell need a lot of practice in this area. I don't know what was up ...More Read More
Views: 956

In General Random Notes from 02.14 and 02.16.05 Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #166 New 02-18-2005 02:36 AM
I find myself playing catch-up on these journal entries again, having just started getting over both my jet-lag from the Philippines trip and a cold I caught from my roommate...so here goes.

Monday Night:
Kokyuho - after we practiced this technique at the end of class and I had noticed an interesting explanation that Sensei had offered Garry (to imagine he is pushing his thumbs back over his shoulders), I asked Sensei about the advice given to me by a Yudansha at the Manila seminar --- under what particular circumstances would you use either of these for Kokyuho? I had already noticed from his demonstration that the "pinkies under the elbows" method would obviously not work for the version of Kokyuho in which uke presses nage's wrists right down onto his lap. Essentially, Sensei told us that the "pushing the thumbs back" method was what Kawahara Sensei had taught (and it has its origins in Daito Ryu), for the reason that it seems to be the method that consistently works regardless of how uke's hands have grabbed your wrists. It's good to know; Sensei also encouraged us to experiment with all of the different methods that folks suggest in order to find the way that personally works best for us.

Wednesday Night: A Taste of Teaching...
In a rather unique move, Sensei put us each on the spot by asking us to explain and/or demonstrate different aspects of the basics of Aikido, that is, the how-to's and why's of: bowing, ukemi, atemi, and Katatedori Shihonage. Essenti ...More Read More
Views: 837

In General Aikido in the Philippines: Manila Seminar w/Sugaw Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #165 New 02-17-2005 01:32 AM
I had the great pleasure of meeting and training with some friendly Aikidoka while I was in the Philippines at the "Hombu Instructional Tour" seminar with Shigeru Sugawara Shihan that took place at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and was hosted by Aikido Philippines. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend one of the five two-hour sessions due to being in Manila on just a day trip and my family's schedule was not conducive to any more than that. Regardless, it was a great opportunity and a valuable experience nonetheless.

I've uploaded a few pictures of the seminar to my AikiWeb photo gallery (at: http://www.aikiweb.com/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=2331&password= ) which were taken by Rommel, the secretary of AikiPhil and will also eventually add to these the pictures that were taken by my dad (which still need to be scanned). You may also view some of the pics uploaded by AikiPhil at: http://www.photonski.com/makilingaikido/paja05

There were a ton of folks on the mats when I was there on Tuesday morning from 8 to 10am --- my dad counted about 80 (a good mix of Yudansha and Mudansha) and I was told that there would likely be more during the sessions later in the day. I counted around a dozen female aikidoka, also of a decent mix of ranks, which was likewise nice to see. But boy, were the mats ever crowded!

Sugawara Sensei (presumably as he's one of the younger --- read: more flexible -- of the shihans) led the warm-up, which would be th ...More Read More
Views: 977

In General Hating My Own Weakness Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #164 New 01-20-2005 10:59 PM
After Jo practice, we started things off with some Hanmi Handachi waza: Shomenuchi Shihonage. Some of the finer points I had to add were: not sweeping outward to catch uke's hand (that's for yokomenuchi) but just raising your hands up to do so, and moving more at a 45 degree angle (not 90 degrees/perpendicular) from uke to avoid being within his punching range.

We also spent a great deal of time on Tsuki Ikkyo and once again, it became readily apparent (as it usually does) that as things stand right now, I could never perform this technique on someone bigger and stronger. Essentially, were someone to really lock their arm out strongly, I would have to resort to a Nikkyo-like pin to move them. Which is fine. Whereas I used to be frustrated at not being able to do certain techniques exactly the way most of the guys do, I've learned to accept the fact that I will simply have to adapt a great many of them so that they actually work for me.

I've been working on improving my grip so as to make such things as this (and Sankyo, for example) a lot more effective. I've also noticed that with some uke's in class I have had a tendency to hold back a fair amount (until Sensei notices and tells me to do something with more force)--- such that if I were to simply torque their limbs just a bit more, I'd have the control over them that is necessary. Why is this? Am I so afraid of hurting someone else? I'm certainly not all that fearful of hurting myself (case in point, just d ...More Read More
Views: 1004 | Comments: 2

In General Ushiro Ryotekubidori Kaitenage & Old-School Shomen Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #163 New 01-19-2005 09:35 PM
Kaitenage has officially become the new bane of my Aiki-existence. As usual, it comes down to maintaining that tension at my point of contact with uke so as to keep control over his centre. Nothing new there --- just those good old, infuriating details again, such as:
- escaping out of uke's grip by pushing my elbow forward (not pulling)
- keeping pressured contact just above uke's elbow during the sweep downwards
- swinging my leg back during the sweep downwards in order to position myself perpendicular to uke
- pushing down on uke's neck more before the throw if he happens to be bigger and/or more resistant

We did the "old-school" version of Shomenuchi Sankyo in Suwari Waza today, which had (or so we had thought) been deemed unacceptable by Kawahara Shihan prior to my ever testing for Gokkyu and so I had never learned it properly. It's good that we're finally doing it again, because just about every other dojo I've visited does Sankyo this way and as much as I love standing there, looking clueless on the mats...(don't even think of saying it, friend; don't even think it :-P) This is the one where you lean your shoulder onto uke's to keep him down and controlled while setting your hands up for Sankyo (though it doesn't help that my arms are always considerably shorter then uke's, making it difficult to do this), bringing it up as your leg swings out, then moving in front of uke and moving backwards while driving him down to the mat before the pin. Yes, that one. ...More Read More
Views: 1240

In General Becoming the Centre (Mon. Jan. 17/Tues. Jan. 18, 2 Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #162 New 01-19-2005 02:26 AM
Mostly thought fragments today...

Though I'm motivated enough to get out to class every day (and you have to be to do all that walking in Winnipeg Winter weather --- ahh, the joys of not owning a vehicle; the windchill puts hair on yer chest...arr!) I wish I could feel the same about journalling here. I mean, there's always a great deal to ponder. I just don't always feel like logging it all. After awhile, things start feeling like the usual same-old, same-old.

Anyhoo, I'll do my best. (Though this feels like having your teeth pulled. I wish I didn't feel so blah about my own Aikido. That might have something to do with it. Yes, there's a great deal to be learned and a great deal to write about. But I guess I'm at this low point where I feel like I want my body to do the thinking for me...I spend so much time being introspective. I know the merits of it full well. I wish I could explain this apathy I feel towards writing these days.)

We're starting to focus on test techniques again, so I spent the past couple of days on Shomenuchi Nikkyo. Oh, the usual. Working on improving timing, that blasted hand turnover (gosh, I hate having such tiny hands --- I do it just fine with Ken as uke, but then he has small hands too), silly little details that make a world of difference. You know. Posture. Maintaining tension on uke's arm. Stuff. (See what I mean about this being like pulling teeth? Gak.)

I did, however, make note of a good point Sensei made when ...More Read More
Views: 807

In General An Extension of Self (Monday, Jan. 10, 2005) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #161 New 01-12-2005 02:37 AM
"Perhaps women were once so dangerous that they had to have their feet bound." --- Maxine Hong Kingston, "The Woman Warrior"

I don't know what it is, but it seems that no matter how miserable I get (and I've been feeling mighty miserable lately), so long as you put a sword in my hands, all's right with the world. I've been walking around like a wraith --- like I'm empty, like I'm lost. It feels like everything that seemed so simple about living just takes so much effort. But the only place I come alive is on the mats. It's like the only thing that feels real.

I find myself not only extending more with my swordwork, but blending more with my opponent's strikes. Not so much of the clashing blades, the meeting force with force. But then, I have had to blend so much in life lately that sometimes it feels as though I've forgotten that there is even a force here to begin with. Is the substance of me fading away? If so, what will take its place?

They say that a samurai's sword is his soul. Well, perhaps that's quite a propos. My own bokken is split and battered, just like me. But then, (as it was red oak) it was never made of very strong stuff to begin with. Just like me. I've since replaced it with a thicker, seemingly-stronger one of hickory. If only I could replace my soul as easily. Start over, you know. But then, someone once told me that we become strongest in the broken places; the places that heal over. Perhaps, however --- as I said to him in ret ...More Read More
Views: 854

In General Kaitennage (Friday, Jan. 7, 2005) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #160 New 01-08-2005 04:16 AM
Upon our return to the dojo (significantly warmer than the night before thanks to Sensei showing up early to fix the insulation on the window), we worked on a couple of variations of Kaitennage, particularly: Ushiro Ryokatadori Kaitennage (Hanmi Handachi Waza) and Shomenuchi Kaitennage.

For the former, I found that extending forward from the very beginning to be quite helpful in maintaining balance and steadiness while being grabbed. Since there were only four of us on the mats that night, it was one of those fortunate times when Sensei joins in with you consistently on your reps and so I was able to glean a great deal of good advice from him on the latter, Shomenuchi Kaitennage --- particularly: when grabbing uke at the elbow during the initial tenkan (while keeping own elbow down), lean both forward and down throughout to better take his centre. This reminded me so much of the same thing I had to do to make my ura's in suwari waza more effective when we were practicing for the last test! Funny, that.

The other thing that helped considerably was not to make it a full tenkan (with your feet in hanmi), but to squat down (in almost a horse stance) at the end of your dipping uke downwards --- and then do a tenkan into the throw...which in turn reminded me a great deal of Kotegaeshi! Funny, that.
Views: 970

In General Frozen Dojo Waza (Thursday, Jan. 6, 2005) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #159 New 01-08-2005 03:56 AM
When we got into the dojo Thursday night, it was even colder than the night before. So much so, in fact, that you could see your breath. We were standing in the changeroom with our parkas on and it still felt like we were outside. Blame it on the wind and the really bad insulation we have on the windows. Suffice it to say, Sensei wasn't about to let us train under those conditions, so we took our weapons to the room across the hall and did our jo practice in our street clothes to stay warm.

As we worked on kata, it became readily apparent that:
- working in street clothes, though somewhat constricting in jeans, was rather beneficial to see Sensei's form NOT covered up by a hakama for once
- albeit warmer, the room we were in was quite small (even for 5 people --- being 5 people swinging weapons around, after all) and there would be plenty of wall-hitting in the process of adapting to its size

Most exciting to me was Sensei's introduction of freestyle partnered jo practice (the first installment of which, I had missed from the week before) --- which is essentially a slow, two-person Randori with jo in which you improvise your attacks and blocks (the precursor to wailing away at each other quickly back and forth with the jo). It was wonderful to begin to apply our weapons work in a somewhat realistic fashion after having done only kata and structured paired practice up until now. We came to learn that there are stances and hand positions which are not as adv ...More Read More
Views: 1577 | Comments: 3

One of your Favorites! In General Yonkyu (and 2004) - A retrospective Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #158 New 01-06-2005 02:02 PM
Since this is nearly two months overdue, I figure that I may as well, in addition, combine my usual stats tally with some insights from the past year.

Things learned since Gokkyu...

About movement and the art:

- To let my body do most of the thinking and to trust that it will both react accordingly and "feel" technique instinctively out of habit, necessity and its own memory.
I guess it comes down to the whole "mind of no-mind" thing. There's no need to over-think technique step-by-step while I'm doing it, just feel it out and my body will do the rest.

- To try to make a habit of feeling the flow of uke's energy and momentum and try to maintain good timing with this.

- When in doubt, squatting low typically solves a lot of leading and balance/stability issues for me.

About me:

- That I can relax pretty well under pressure

- That I can focus in the midst of a great deal of stress and fatigue

- That I really love to push myself beyond my physical and mental limits (but haven't I always known this?)


- That Koshinage can be conquered

- That truly, the guys at NWA are like brothers to me

- That blood stains are a b*tch to clean out of white cotton.

Things (of many) that I'm working on improving in the coming year:

- strengthening my grip

- making my ushiro ukemi consistently round, fast, and such that my knee never touches at all (on the way to standing up)

- applying my friend's gymnastics tips so as to get my ...More Read More
Views: 2448

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