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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: 568,051

In General Frozen Dojo Waza (Thursday, Jan. 6, 2005) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #159 New 01-08-2005 02:56 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: 1156 | Comments: 3

One of your Favorites! In General Yonkyu (and 2004) - A retrospective Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #158 New 01-06-2005 01:02 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: 1951

In General C-c-c-cold K-k-k-keiko and Koshinage Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #157 New 01-06-2005 02:13 AM
I had nearly forgotten what it was like to train on ice-like mats. Though I certainly didn't miss it. It was another one of those nights where the wind was blowing in such a way outside as to make the dojo freezing cold. Bigger class than last --- it was pretty much the whole core group out tonight, actually --- like old times, with the exception of Sensei being away for the night.

So Sempai Tim and Jeremy led the class, starting with some Ryokatatedori Shihonage. While working through my reps, I tried to pay close attention to knowing (with both sight and feel) the tension in uke's arm and his energy so as to ensure that I continually had his centre and was going with his momentum.

Before ending the night with a couple of rounds of Randori, we did a fair amount of work on Shomenuchi Koshinage (which was on the yonkyu test). Sempai Jeremy passed on something interesting that Sensei mentioned a few weeks ago (which I missed) regarding weight distribution and squatting properly --- that it's more stable to squat down:
- with your weight mostly on your heels (you should be able to lift your toes) and not forward
- as though you're sitting in a chair, (taking care that your knees do not bend such that they are forward past your toes)
Both of these ensure that you are able to support uke's weight with stability and without much (if any) strain on the knees.

I made a point of trying out letting my weight rest back on my heels like that, with consistent success as ...More Read More
Views: 676

In General The Way of the Beat-up Ragdoll Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #156 New 01-05-2005 01:13 AM
I figure the other guys must be recouperating, because it was just me, Jim and Sensei out tonight. The ol' bod feels fine, just a little stiff --- especially behind the legs, though nothing serious. It wasn't until we did our ukemi warm-up and I started rolling again that I discovered a point on my shoulder that is fairly bruised from bumping it on the mats. Obviously, I need to work on staying more round with my rolls. Thanks to fatigue, it made things all the more challenging...Sensei did say yesterday that after a while, problem areas would become more readily apparent. Ouch. No kiddin'.

We started out with some Suwari Waza: Shomenuchi Nikkyo, to be exact. Funny how the body remembers these things. It asks no questions. Okay, so sometimes it asks questions. And makes really loud statements (usually of protest). But oftentimes, like this one, it obeys what it knows. No big corrections on this one other than to remember that with the ura version, bringing uke's arm to my chest with my own is as important as leaning forward towards him.

The rest of the class, we focused on a couple of versions of Morotaedori Iriminage --- the usual one we do with the sweeping, overhand entry and another, "newer" version (well, new to me) that relies upon first leading and then a whip-like motion that starts from the hip, after which you throw with the shoulder instead of bringing your hand over uke to finish. Areas that could use some fine-tuning include:
- dipping dow ...More Read More
Views: 610

In General A Torturific Welcome Back - New Year's Misogi 2005 Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #155 New 01-04-2005 03:20 PM
Quote of the Day: "A rolling student gathers no moss," --- Sempai Jeremy

So the prodigal daughter of NWA returns. And more than likely, it's back for good this time. I won't go into the whole spiel about "the best laid plans of mice and men". Suffice it to say that I wanted to make it back into town in time for Misogi day and to surprise the guys. It's funny, but being back almost feels like I had never left...only family would welcome you with open arms like that, month and a half long hiatus be damned.

This year, we were to do mai ukemi as many times as we were able in ten minutes (so long as we try to do at least 100). The object was to push our limits as much as we could. Sensei got us to do it in two different groups to help cheer each other on and to group students who would roll at a similar pace. Garry and Jim rolled together and they made their goal of 110. Ken, Jeremy and I went next at a quicker pace set by Sensei's counting.

Ten minutes felt like eternity. I made a point of inhaling after each roll and exhaling during the roll, which helped considerably to keep me from getting too out of breath. After the first two and a half minutes without a break, I had pushed myself to do ten extra but paid for it the next time around with severe dizziness --- it doesn't take long before your legs start going all rubbery on you. After a bit, I found that if I stayed low and squatted deeper at the beginning and end of each roll, I could maintain better st ...More Read More
Views: 516

In General Back in the Saddle Again Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #154 New 12-16-2004 04:00 PM
Well, I took the plunge. I *finally* bloody well picked a new dojo. After three weeks just getting settled in this city, let's just say that The Year of Hell still isn't over.

But you know what? Man, does it ever feel good to be back on the mats again. Even if it means --- once again --- going through the whole process of looking stupid, feeling like an outsider, tolerating the initial bemused looks that say, "Oh, it's only another girl. Nothing special." But I know that's just my good old friends, Pride and Ego, talking. They'll quiet down soon enough.

Don't get me wrong. The folks at Portland Aikikai are friendly enough. I just have enough foresight to know that no matter what, the dynamic will be different. And how.

At least we did some Randori. Okay, so it was more like Jiyu Waza. For just one technique. With ukes graciously taking turns instead of rushing you at once. And they rarely do it. Oh well. It's something.

I feel like I'm re-learning things again. Sheesh. I mean, it's not like this should come as a big surprise. Every dojo does things differently and this place is no exception. But what disturbs me is that the thought actually crossed my mind that: I'll finally feel settled in there once I reach the same level of conformity as everyone else. Yikes. What's up with that? But it's true. Getting used to a new warm-up. Getting used to new dojo-specific etiquette. Getting used to a whole new pecking-order. If there's anything ...More Read More
Views: 532 | Comments: 1

In General 11.13.04 - The Seminar (to be continued) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #153 New 11-18-2004 01:14 PM
From the moment you step into the Regina dojo, you are imbued with a feeling of lightness. It has been impeccably designed in Japanese fashion --- from the walls, painted in neutral beige tones, right down to the flawless, cream canvas mats. There is actually a waiting room for guests (!), a seated viewing area with embroidered cushions on the couches, a tea set on the table, incense and candles burning. A paper screen facade lines the windows and doors of the change rooms.
"Nice dojo," says Sempai Jeff.
"It's cute," I admit, but not without a chuckle. "Cute."
Despite all the Zen-simplicity of the decor, I (obviously used to more Spartan digs) cannot help but muse over the irony of its underlying decadence. You'll find no duct tape covering tears in the mats here.

I open the door to the women's change room and am in awe. It may as well have been a courtesan's boudoir. There is a futon, wall hangings, bamboo-lined mirror, flowers in a vase on the coffee table. There is a coffee table, for heaven's sake. Once inside, I knock on the screened door separating the men's from the women's, calling to the guys from through the screen.
"This place is like a spa," I whisper. "I feel more like a geisha than an aikidoka."
It is definitely a far cry from the dusty, dark storage closet I would occasionally change in. Not that the women here don't change right next to the mop and pail. They do. It's just tastefully concealed behind a curtain of muted red brocade.
...More Read More
Views: 440

In General Playing Catch-up Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #152 New 11-18-2004 12:45 PM
Things have been so go-go-go these days, that I haven't had a chance to stop and genuflect as much as usual. Here's a start (or at least a glance backwards) for now. Just to mix things up a little, I've been reflecting in a different style --- should be a nice breather from the usual notes regarding technique, at the very least.

11.10.04 (17:33, on the bus to the dojo)

Well, this is it. The moment of truth. Okay, so the preliminary one...tonight, we all test in-house. This time, for me, there is no "cramming" at the last minute to get ready, no showing up early to practice. This time, there sure as hell was no going to the dojo for weeks straight to prepare. Nope, not with all of this shit going on, there wasn't.

So how prepared am I? My mind is a blank slate, ready to be filled. My body feels at rest, waiting for that moment to bring it to action --- it is relaxed and yet is energized with the knowledge only it knows. Once again, I must trust it. Before, I had a tough time doing this. I mulled over each technique in my mind to no end, compounded my worry by feeding off my own insecurities.

There will be none of that this time. There is only me. And after everything that has happened this year, all I've been through, I know it'll be more than enough.


Okay. Here we are again, on the brink of yet another test. This will probably be the last time I'll be able to write before we head out to the seminar in Regina, so I suppose it's the ...More Read More
Views: 593

In General More to think about, more to do Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #151 New 10-28-2004 01:58 AM
Tonight, Sensei ran me through most of my test again --- this time he got me to do all of the Suwari Waza techniques along with some of the standing ones. Aside from bombing miserably on Shomenuchi Koshinage (gak! need more practice!), some of the finer details Sensei pointed out to me were:

Shomenuchi Sankyo:
- move shin and knee into crook of uke's elbow before the hand change for stability
- Osae: make sure fingers wrap all the way around the knife edge of uke's hand for better control

All Osae: should be more of a twisting motion with very little leaning forward

Katatedori Iriminage (Ai-Hanmi):
- don't bend elbow too much during initial movement; keep arm only slightly bent/fairly straight so as to not get cramped

Katatedori Iriminage (Gyaku-Hanmi):
- don't move into uke's side until have broken free of grip (time the move with the cutting-down motion)

Yokomenuchi Kotegaeshi:
- need to make the squatting motion deeper
- need to turn more than 180 degrees on tenkan to lead taller ukes further

Tsuki Kaitenage:
- "cast" uke's arm a little more to the side to take his center better

Ushiro-Ryotekubidori Kokyunage:
- need to time this a little slower to catch uke's energy
- thrust both hands high, up towards ceiling before leading downward

Yokomenuchi Kokyunage:
- always start with the "garbage bag" throw (drops down to one knee); take a short step forward on this one and fall down to one knee on the spot without having to take another ste ...More Read More
Views: 535

In General Fine-tuning Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #150 New 10-19-2004 12:30 AM
...as always.

Spent the last couple of classes brushing up on the two techniques I wasn't secure about during the last test run-through: Shomenuchi Gokkyo in Suwari Waza (Friday night) and and Shomenuchi Koshinage (tonight).

It seems that there are a couple of ways of doing Gokkyo --- the way Sempai Jeff and Jeremy were showing me, which is shorter and a lot more severe on the elbow joint, and the way Sensei mentioned tonight as the one he prefers us to work on at this stage, which is more like Ikkyo. On Friday, however, I spent a great deal of time learning the former version from Jeff (ouch!), which was quite awkward to me, since it really does rely heavily on the hips in Suwari Waza (which I need to work on a great deal) and on maintaining a fair amount of mid-air/dubiously-supported tension against uke's elbow...man, there's gotta be an easier way. But you never know...I still have yet to try the Ikkyo-ish version.

Shomenuchi Koshinage is starting to feel better (after a few false starts, hits and misses) --- ultimately, I found that in order to keep my arm straight without any "conflict" with uke's strength, I had to squat considerably lower. Sheesh. After all that --- that's all it was. Just typical. :-)
Views: 436

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