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Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > AikiWeb AikiBlogs > My Path

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My Path Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 06-08-2009 01:55 PM
Linda Eskin
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My path to and through Aikido. Observations on Aikido, horses, & life, by a 51 y/o 1st kyu.

This same blog (with photos and a few additional trivial posts, but without comments) can be found at www.grabmywrist.com.

I train with Dave Goldberg Sensei, at Aikido of San Diego.
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 214
Comments: 359
Views: 325,436

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In Learning The Stillness After the Seminar Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #114 New 01-28-2011 12:49 AM
So about that seminar, finally... I had a great time at the Aikido Bridge Friendship Seminar a couple of weeks ago. Doran, Ikeda, and Tissier Sensei taught again, and this time each also did a tanto (knife) class. I got to train and hang out with some really nice folks I met there last year, several of my Aikido rock star heroes, and some new friends I hope to see again soon. I even got to have a house guest for the duration. On the basic "having a good time" scale, it was way up there. Lots of fun.

I love training at the level of intensity available at seminars - really focusing on nothing else for several days, without distraction. I definitely plan to be back next year, and am looking forward to 4 days with Patrick Cassidy Sensei in February, the Aiki Summer Retreat at Menlo Park in June, Robert Nadeau Shihan some time this summer, and our dojo retreat in the mountains in the fall. And some day, on my wish list, George Ledyard Sensei's Weapons & Randori Intensive. There's something about that removal from everyday life to just train that allows for breakthroughs. More on that another time.

It was interesting to notice that this year I got more frustrated and impatient with myself. Last year I was only a 6th kyu with about 6 months of training behind me. My most fervent wish at that point was to not make a complete fool of myself - to clap at the right time when bowing in, address the instructors appropriately, and to not be an embarrassment to my dojo or teacher. Th ...More Read More
Views: 1238 | Comments: 4


In General At the Aikido Bridge Friendship Seminar 2011 Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #113 New 01-13-2011 09:12 AM
I'm very fortunate that the Aikido Bridge Friendship Seminar is held in San Diego at Jiai Aikido, where "travel" for me involves only a 40-minute commute. It starts this evening, and goes through Monday morning.

I'm sure I'll be writing up some blog posts here afterward, but during the seminar I'll be posting little bits and pieces from my phone each day, but only to the other version of this blog: www.grabmywrist.com, so check that out, if you're so inclined.

I am looking forward to seeing the wonderful people I met last year, and making new friends, too! If you are there and want to get in touch, you can email me at:
lindaeskiniphone at gmail.com << use the @ symbol, of course.
Or text or call me at 619 368-4333
See you there, or back here, or something. :-)
Views: 1357 | Comments: 2


In General Uke and Schoolmasters Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #112 New 01-10-2011 01:15 AM
There is a very good discussion on the AikiWeb forums, about uke collusion in practice/training. It's particularly relevant for me, because I will be participating in the Aikido Bridge seminar later this week, where Ikeda Sensei will be teaching, and where there will be lots of opportunities for refining my own ukemi, and observing the ukemi of others.

One of the comments there, about how professional athletes train, brought something to mind: In horseback riding the relationship between the rider and the horse is very much like the relationship between Nage and Uke.

The rider (Nage), through their cues, posture, weight shifts, placement of attention, and so on, is able to affect the balance and motion of the horse (Uke). It should not be a battle - it should be a partnership. They are not in opposition. Horse training essentially is training the horse to be a good uke - sensitive, not reactive, not anticipating, but moving as directed when the rider makes a request correctly.

Of course, beginning riders are hopelessly uncoordinated about their weight, center, attention, posture, hands, feet, etc. A horse that refuses to budge, or who can't understand what is being asked, would only frustrate them. Thankfully there are talented, experienced, angelic horses referred to as "schoolmasters" who and understand, and who happily play along with these fumbling newbies. A good schoolmaster lets the rider get the feeling of what a correct trot, balanced halt, or smooth cant ...More Read More
Views: 1322 | Comments: 7


In General Service and Community Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #111 New 01-09-2011 01:05 AM
We've recently had a few project days at the dojo - a New Year's Cleaning Day before our first training of 2011, and yesterday re-stretching the mat cover, now that it's settled in after its first 6 months in use. And back in June and July we helped prepare the new location, move there, and clean up the old place.

It's one of things I really love about our dojo, and probably about martial arts schools in general, that it truly is a community, where people pitch in to help. That we can pitch in and help. There's a sense of belonging and ownership that's comes from serving in that way, and it's available to everyone, of any rank. As a relative newbie who cannot contribute much else, personally, I really value that opportunity.

In so many of our other day-to-day experiences we pay our money, get what we paid for, and call it even. We are not allowed past the "Employees Only" signs. There are "No user serviceable parts inside." We are kept out, not authorized, not needed.

In a dojo, it's a community. When your neighbor is putting up a barn or their crop needs to be brought in before a storm, you don't wait to be asked, you pitch in and help. And sometimes you bring food, too. You get more out of service than you ever give, and more than you could ever pay for. It's how the community, your community, is created, and it's a privilege to be a part of it.
Views: 895 | Comments: 4


In General Happy New Year, 2011 Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #110 New 01-09-2011 12:26 AM
I hope everyone's holidays were peaceful and happy. Mine were laid back, no big deals. Some family, some friends, a great hike on New Year's Day… And we adopted two kitties, after being catless for a few months. All in all a nice time.

It's a new year, but there's nothing really new. The rhythms of seasons, work, and the dojo continue like heartbeats and breathing, regular and reassuring. Last year, 2010, was mostly wonderful. No big vacations, no winning the lottery. I ended the year healthier than I started it, which is great (and for which I credit my Aikido training - and not at all just the physical part). But the big thing is that the little things went well. Just regular daily life - meaningful, engaging work, things going pretty well for family and friends, and training more, and getting more out of it than I could have imagined at the start of the year, and thoroughly enjoying every minute.

Pauliina Lievonen, one of the team that writes The Mirror column on AikiWeb.com, posted this on her Facebook page at the end of the year:
"New year's resolution: More of the same. :-) "
That really hit the nail on the head. Sure, there's room for improvement. There are things I'd like to do better, goals to be met, etc. But all in all, I'm very happy, and looking forward to continuing on in the same way, as much as possible.

I hope your 2010 was like that. And whether it was or wasn't, I hope your 2011 is the kind of year that leaves you hoping for more of the same.
Views: 731


In General Roll Model: Lloyd McClellan, Sho-Dan Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #109 New 12-08-2010 01:33 AM
We had a sho-dan promotion at our dojo recently, a 73 year-old gentleman named Lloyd McClellan.

Lloyd's story is his to tell, but I'll share my own experience of Lloyd.

When I started training, at 46, I read a few things by George Leonard Sensei. Leonard Sensei had also started Aikido at 46, I believe, and had written an essay titled "On Getting a Black Belt at Age Fifty-Two." He went on to become a 5th dan. I found these bits of information very heartening. 46 was not "too late."

From my newbie perspective Lloyd has been training "forever." He is older, he is senior to me, and he is competent, kind, generous, a good teacher, and he's strong as an ox. Those things are great, and worthy of admiration, but didn't surprise me that someone who'd been training forever would have those qualities.

Lloyd is also a just plain cool guy. He wears a cowboy hat and a cowboy mustache, and he drives a pickup. It would surprise me if there weren't some cattle at some point that back up that hat.

He knows his limits on the mat - he doesn't roll a lot, doesn't sit in seiza - but he doesn't let them stop him. I've seen him frustrated, tired, and in pain, but I've never seen him discouraged.

But the most impressive thing about Lloyd didn't really strike me until his sho-dan demo came up. Lloyd started training when he was 65. I don't know if it ever crossed his mind to ask himself "what am I thinking, starting a martial art at my age?" If it did, he didn't let it stop him. ...More Read More
Views: 1215 | Comments: 4


In Testing "Were you nervous?" Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #108 New 11-18-2010 02:14 AM
"Your form was fine." Sensei said when he came to discussing my 4th-kyu test. He was giving us each feedback in the post-exam circle of promotion candidates. "Were you nervous?" he asked.

Huh... Nervous? I had felt really well prepared. I hadn't been afraid I would screw up any particular techniques (but of course I did anyway). I knew I was really focused. Intent on giving it my best. I had sort of half-assed my previous test (5th kyu), and had instantly wished I could've done it over - done it right. But there aren't do-overs on tests. This time I was doing my darnedest to nail it.

"Yeah..." I allowed, as best I can recall saying, "not totally freaked out, but I was probably a little nervous."

Liar.

I was totally freaked out. The weird thing is that I didn't recognize it. Sure, I made a couple of mistakes on jo suburi - the one thing I thought I really had down, and there was that one technique where my back heel came off the ground and I noticed my leg was shaking... I didn't recognize that I was nervous. It's not OK with me to be nervous. Nervous is fearful, uncertain, and weak. I don't get nervous.

What I did recognize was a feeling, one I'd had after my first and only piano recital as a teenager. I had played "Come Sail Away" by Styx. I played it just fine. But when I was done and sat down I had to ask someone how I'd done. It was like I hadn't even been there when I was playing. At the end of my test I'd had the same feeling. I thought I'd done basicall ...More Read More
Views: 1668 | Comments: 8


In Testing 4th Kyu Exam - Video Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #107 New 11-13-2010 11:12 PM
As promised:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuGsMi4MhOQ

A few rough edges. (Darnit, I do *so* know those jo techniques!) But on the whole I'm pretty satisfied.

Even better I'm excited that I get to train in the 4th-kyu and up classes now. A chance to feel completely lost and incompetent all over again.
Views: 1249 | Comments: 5


In Humor Aiki Football Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #106 New 11-11-2010 04:37 PM
One of the aspects of Aikido we are constantly exploring is that if an attacker or body does not perceive a threat (such as a strong grab or hard block) they will naturally not react defensively (or at all). Staying relaxed and soft can help the other person become relaxed and soft, too.

This football play by Driscoll Middle School is a great example of this idea in action:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UIdI8khMkw

The guy with the ball doesn't tuck his head and charge through the line, instead he walks through like he has no place special to be. It's so soft, relaxed, and casual the whole opposing team fails to perceive the threat - until he starts to run, and then it's too late. Freaking brilliant. (And legal, too.)
Views: 1085


In General To 4th Kyu & Beyond! Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #105 New 11-06-2010 08:08 PM
My exam for 4th kyu is one week from today. I'm excited, and starting to feel almost ready. I have gotten so much from my practice these past few months, and have been having a blast training.

Several of us who will be testing have been on the mat 4 to 5 days a week lately, staying late to train together after class, helping each other and working with our mentor, who has his hands full between me and two 3rd-kyu candidates. I've got a jump on the 3rd kyu test, at least, when I eventually get there! I've being doing ukemi for them when I can, and going through all the jo and bokken suburi that are on their test (mine are a subset of theirs). We've all learned and grown a lot together, and gotten closer as friends, too.

I am mentoring someone for the first time, too. She will be testing for 6th kyu, and I will be her uke. She is a joy to work with, and I'm looking forward to her test!

Since my 5th kyu exam in February I have trained 143 days (so far), helped with moving the dojo to our really nice new location, trained in two seminars - Robert Nadeau Shihan, and Mary Heiny Sensei - and assisted with the logistics of the latter. I've participated in two Aikido In Focus workshops with Sensei, watched a lot of exams, and enjoyed several dojo parties. I've gotten more comfortable with working with brand-new beginners, doing my best to provide ukemi that lets them get the feel of techniques - or at least doesn't get in their way. I've been having way too much fun practici ...More Read More
Views: 907 | Comments: 3



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