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Well, just back from fall camp. Things must have gone well, because I'm only wearing one brace (left knee) . The folks from Arizona Aikido did a great job setting everything up. And the weather couldn't have been better.
The experience of training with so many different people was great, but what did I take away? I guess time will tell, has MY aikido changed? Have I made progress that I wouldn't have realized if I had stayed home?
Everything was basics, something everyone, yudansha and mudansha can relate to and integrate more deeply into their aikido. From Sakakibara Sensei, I learned, "First your body moves, then your hand." We worked from static with only ki to keep uke connected. Next year I'm definitly going for the full camp (arrive thursday pm, train a full day Friday) . As I look back on it, think I was too excited and full of my own strength to really get the most out of his class. Veneziano Sensei spoke alot about finding the spiral in uke and following it. And if you think that might lead to a soft a twirly class, think again because, man, that lady runs a TOUGH class . In weapons in the afternoon, she taught a Bo kata adjusted for Jo, which I've already mostly forgotten . Well, I'll search for it on the web, maybe someone's posted the moves. During that class, most eveyone was in the main hall taking Sodeman Sensei's ukemi class. I probably should have been there too (ukemi is where I really do need to focus on improving), bu
So this morning (Sunday), I was at the park with Sensei and another senior student, for a "study group". Both of them are studying Kyu Shu (spelling?) and get together to practice outside of class once a month. They invited me (YES , another opportunity to train!) so there I am, too. It's very interesting, and adds another layer on Aikido in terms of atemi and precision in blending and directing energy.
At the end of our session, I managed to end up face down in the grass, basically pinned, unbeknownst to us, my right hand smack on top of an ant's nest. Hmmm, I thought, the grass is itchier than ususal, I look over and my hand is covered.
So as I was driving home with my hand shoved into a large carryout cup filled with ice , I was thinking about WHY do I do this. Not really doubting my own commitment, but wondering how I can possibly explain why to someone else.
I don't expect that I will ever run into a situation where I need MA to survive. I mean, it could happen, but physical conflict isn't part of my job, as it would be for a police officer, for example. There are many reasons why I am addicted to Aikido, but the reason that supplies the most drive to my commitment is that I find a reflection of my spiritual life in the physical discipline of Aikido.
And that led me to start thinking about the idea of martial intent. We'd been talking about that a lot this morning, because many of the pressure points we'd been practicing stri
It's odd to be a senior student while I still haven't earned any rank in my new dojo. We have a new crop of students, most of whom have n MA experience at all.
Class was very satisfying in one sense: Sensei used me as demo uke. And there was even another black belt in the class. WOW, I am still sore. But I feel good in that I think my ukemi is continuing to improve. It was really fun to be tossed around (you know you're an aikido addict when you bounce up and say "do it again, do it again!") I'm trying to track down the name of the last technique we studied : two hand grab, tenkon, lead low, then circle arm counter-wise, give uke a bit of support with free hand in small of back then take it away and arimi with another piviot (pivot on front, kick back foot back and around). Sweet. Very fun one that.
On the other hand I had to deal with alot of plain noodles. Noodle arms are impossible to do static starts with. I've been more threatened by static cling... The new students... well no energy to work with. Plus I suspect two of the new men were avoiding partnering with me. Well, I'll give them the benifit of the doubt. I'll be sure to plop down next to them tonight.
Last week I did my favorite trick of failing to move, and sure enough, the punch to the "face" landed about a foot left of my left shoulder and about 6 inches short. Ah I love messing with their pointy heads. Com'on HIT ME!
I've been thinking a lot about why I am addicted to aikido. Why does it draw me back again? Why am I willling to shake up my life, aquire an ever-changing collection of bruises, sore and strained muscles, and mystify/dismay my christian friends by investing my time in attempting to master this art?
I think what I am coming to, at least in part, is a realization that Aikido offers me a time of meditation that is physical and dynamic. On the mat, I am completely focused on the present. My mind is so much more focused, and I leave the dojo often with a clearer mental attitude.
Also, I live so much in my head, that I often treat my body as if it were not part of ME. This is also, I think, a consequence of being a cancer surivor. I still don't trust my body very much -- often it feels like its out to get me. Ok that sounds psychotic, but it's kind of true. Aikido brings me to a place of joy in my physical body; a kind of reconcilliation...
John 15:5 (The Message)
The Message (MSG)
5-8"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows
Capture the center, lead low, cut down with extension, but don't give up your center.
I have a feeling this is going to become my mantra...
Ikiyo was familiar (Katatedori Ikkyo omote). Nikkyo (start with Katatedori Ikkyo then shift to nikkyo) felt really strange until I realized I could also do it resting uke's knuckles on my coller, then it was a piece of cake. I guess I had always practiced it that way in years gone by. Kokkyo (uke grabbs one hand with both hands)-- I have to say it is way easier with a jo. Empty handed, I know it's the same, but I have a harder time taking uke's balance.
And the associated pins (excepting Kokkyu, of course). Take out the slack, THEN apply torque from MY center -- DO NOT LEAN OUT OF BALANCE!
Ok, so the good thing about being the only student who shows up for class -- you get to train one-on one with sensei.
The bad thing about being the only student who shows up for class -- you get to train one-on-one with sensei.
You know the saying: "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
Huh. I recall the last time I re-started in Aikido after a few years absence I managed to pull my groin muscles the first week or so. This time I thought I'd be smarter and get in some conditioning before I started. Not smart enough I guess. This time it's my left hamstring. (sound of hand smacking forehead) "doh!"
Enough knowledge to have a strong attack and take a fall decently, but not enough to know better and hold back until I'm really back into decent ukemi. It was the forward roll out of a shomenuchi kitenage (spelling?) that did me in.
Oh well. Now I have to go it slow for a couple weeks. I know, I know, ...patience. This is not my forte, so I guess this is a good opportunity to learn more and practice that particular virtue.
On the bright side, I have a new "fashion accessory" -- a brand new neoprene thigh wrap!
First time in a dojo in many years, and I have to say, it felt real good!
I'm back at home now, enjoying a beer and applying ice to both wrists... and grinning like a maniac. BTW, wine bottle chillers are great for wrists.
It's interesting; I'm having trouble with ikiyo (we were practicing katatatori ikiyo), but nikiyo seemed to come back to me much more clearly. I really need to focus on ki direction and capturing uke's center; I focus too much on the externals. Intellectually, I know better; on the mat, I forget.
Kinetic memory is odd,eh?
Forward rolls were not too lumpy, but my back rolls were pathetic. Guess I need to move the furniture in my living room and spend some time rolling around .
I can't wait to get back on the mat. I wonder if I'll have time to go Thursday after my daughter's end of the year band concert...
PS. day after analysis: clearly I need to spend more attention conditioning my getting off the mat muscle groups...
I've noticed an interesting effect of spending 45 min practicing suburi and kengi /bo gi. I feel as if my center has a direct connection to the earth, like I have a gyroscope embedded in me. It fades after an hour or two, but for a while I feel as if no-one could catch me off-center, even while I'm making toast in the kitchen.
Also, I've been doing some reading. I know enough not to study "how-to" manuels -- like i need to teach myself more bad habits. I'll learn techniques from sensei at the dojo. But I do hang out at the used bookstore, and check all my favorite spots regularly -- cooking, SF, martial arts, camping... Found a copy of Aikido for Life, by Gaku Homma and have been thourougly enjoying it. Lots to think about.