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My Path Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 06-08-2009 02:55 PM
Linda Eskin
My path to and through Aikido. Observations on Aikido, fitness, happiness, horses, & life, by a 52 y/o sho-dan.

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: 228
Comments: 367
Views: 415,444


In Spiritual Don't Push So Hard Against the World Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #28 New 10-07-2009 03:07 AM
In the last few days I'm finally finding my feelings and discoveries about the Aikido In Focus seminar, called "Relax, it's Aikido" (August 23rd, 2009, one in a series of seminars by Dave Goldberg Sensei, Aikido of San Diego) forming themselves into coherent thoughts. OK, so I think slowly.

I didn't know what to expect from this seminar. Relaxation is something I knew I needed to work on in my riding, at least, and it was bound to be a pleasant enough experience, so I signed up. I regularly go to a 90-minute class, and the seminar was only 2 hours, so I wasn't expecting miracles.

But I knew immediately that something deeply important had happened to me in the seminar. The best I could do at the time was to see it as a mental image of hands lifting a stuck Roomba (a wandering robotic vacuum cleaner) out of a corner. Or perhaps more poetically, a little fish being helped from a tide pool into the open sea. (Funny that I think "kohai" sounds like it should be the name of a little fish.) There was a distinct sense of being set free from a tightly bounded existence, and having a vastly expanded space in which to live and play with others. I noticed friends laughing, and it made me happy. I seemed more receptive to the emotional states, both positive and negative, of people around me. Something happened, but I couldn't say what it was.

There's very little of the visceral, experiential "doing" of Aikido that I can put to words. I think that's why I end up writing poetry ab ...More Read More
Views: 1683 | Comments: 4

In Spiritual Discovering Connection Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #27 New 10-04-2009 02:37 PM
I suppose it's true that in any pursuit, the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.

At a few points thus far in my short Aikido journey I've had glimpses what might lie along the road ahead. Vague outlines of the tops of distant mountains. A barely perceptible pre-dawn glow from a city beyond the forest. Is that the wind, or the roar of a far-off river?

I had one of those glimpses recently, when Sensei demonstrated in a simple technique the difference that connection makes. No connection. Connection. Twenty seconds out of a ninety-minute class, and the impact was profound. More about that, please!

From this shore I've seen a bird fly in from another land, away over the horizon. Next Sunday we row out to begin exploring it. I can't wait.
Views: 893

In Horses Aikido? Or Riding? Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #26 New 10-02-2009 09:33 AM
I've had this idea rattling around in my head for quite a while. I think students of either discipline will recognize these points - and will probably be able to cite many more.

Aikido? Or Riding?
Linda Eskin

Heels down, chest open, eyes forward. Breathe.
Relax your shoulders, soften your elbows. Breathe.

Look where you want to go
And you will go there.

Close your hands.
You're not holding a teacup.

Don't look at the ground.
The ground isn't going anywhere.

Drop your center.
Get deeper, more stable, grounded.

Let your eyes be soft.
Take in the entire scene.

Be straight and light,
Like a string is lifting the top of your head.

Heels down, chest open, eyes forward. Breathe.
Relax your shoulders, soften your elbows. Breathe.

Be firm and clear.
Direct your partner with certainty.

The stick is not for hitting.
It's an extension of your body.

Flow with your partner.
Feel their energy and go with it.

Ask for no more
Than your partner can give.

Close your eyes.
Feel your way through the movement.

Align your body and intention.
Your energy goes where your center is pointing.

Heels down, chest open, eyes forward. Breathe.
Relax your shoulders, soften your elbows. Breathe.

Don't hurry things.
The more you rush, the slower you get there.

We're all beginners.
It takes a lifetime. Just keep practicing.

Views: 930 | Comments: 2

In Learning Patience My A... Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #25 New 09-30-2009 02:34 AM
Tonight I was frustrated with myself, as usual, when I still couldn't get a technique right on the 4th or 5th try. My partner, as he's done several times before, just smiled and told me to be patient.

I was reminded of the sign which hangs on my office door: "Patience My A...". I originally bought it (at the local tack store, of course) because it so perfectly described how I felt most of the time. Obstacles be damned, let's get things done! That's a good thing, right?

And with most intellectual challenges I get right up to speed. I can become fluent in information, ideas, facts, concepts, and vocabulary really quickly. Throw me in a deep end, and I'll swim. I do it all the time in my work. I think my proficiency with that kind of learning makes it all the more annoying that physical learning doesn't work the same way.

Our bodies only "get" things just so fast. Rushing is counterproductive. If you play guitar, maybe you remember learning a barred F chord. You were never going to get it. It sounded awful, and felt awkward. You must not be doing it right. It was impossible, probably for months. And then one day it was just there, and it was easy. There were some tips to learn, of course, but hurrying, using more muscle, and getting mad at yourself didn't help a bit. You just had to practice.

There are days when one Aikido technique or other is that barred F chord. I can see how it's supposed to go. Everyone else is doing it gracefully and effectively, but I can't d ...More Read More
Views: 849 | Comments: 3

In General GrabMyWrist.com is Live Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #24 New 09-27-2009 01:26 PM
My Aikido blog is live at http://www.grabmywrist.com/

The same (basically) as my AikiWeb blog, & I'll run them in parallel. You can't comment on the other one. It's more for people who aren't on AikiWeb already. It's a bit easier to browse, has more photos, etc. But it's not a replacement for this AikiBlog.

Happy reading,
Views: 687

In General Rhythms Around the Dojo Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #23 New 09-26-2009 11:17 PM
I think I've noticed an interesting rhythm to what is covered in classes: As exams approach, about every 2 months, classes focus more on techniques that are required for the exams (thank goodness!). Just after exams, we get to try some more interesting things. Both of the classes I did today covered new (to me) ground. Fun stuff!
Views: 654

In Spiritual Another Poem: "More Than Technique" Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #22 New 09-24-2009 08:22 PM
A few days ago I was reading some of the past newsletter articles on the Aikido of San Diego website, and was in a writing kind of mood, so I rewrote Sensei's "Subject of the Season" article from the Spring 2009 newsletter as a poem, just for fun. (This one actually came before the one I posted a few days ago.) I thought you might enjoy it.

More Than Technique
by Linda Eskin
Derived from Dave Goldberg Sensei's Spring09 Newsletter

Words are not the essence of poetry.
Techniques are not the expression of Aikido

Poetry evokes, conveys, inspires.
Aikido balances, grounds, frees.
Brushes and paint are not the artwork.

The toddler, barely walking, dances freely.
Express your Aikido fully, from the beginning.
Views: 1139 | Comments: 2

In Spiritual Poem: Feeling Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #21 New 09-23-2009 02:27 AM
You know how being cooped up inside all day makes you want to run and play once you get outdoors? I think writing deadly dull things like software specs does the same for my writing. I have to run around and play. I've been reading some of our dojo newsletters online, and although they are written in prose, I hear what's said as poetry. So because I tend to rewrite anything that crosses my path, I've been running around and playing with rewriting newsletters as poems. I can't say if this a "good" poetry, but I hope it touches you.

by Linda Eskin
Inspired by some things Dave Goldberg Sensei has said in class, and in Fall 2008 Aikido of San Diego newsletter.

Connect with The Earth.
Ground yourself deeply, solidly,
And experience her silent power.
Let The Earth support you.

Connect with The Heavens.
Perceive the vastness of the sky.
The stars are always above us.
Let yourself breathe in The Heavens.

Connect with Your Body.
Fill where there is emptiness.
Relax where there is tension.
Let Your Body speak. And listen.

Connect with Nage.
Attack with your whole heart.
Bring your gifts of energy and direction.
Go fully where Nage takes you.

Connect with Uke.
Let yourself welcome their gifts.
Respond with ruthless compassion.
Take Uke where they are going.

Connect with Your Self.
Notice where your heart is grounded.
See where balance has been lost.
Let Your Self return to a solid base.

Connect with Everyone.
Notice where our he ...More Read More
Views: 1372 | Comments: 4

In Miscellaneous GrabMyWrist.com Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #20 New 09-22-2009 11:17 PM
I just acquired the domain name www.grabmywrist.com LOL I found that it was available, and like finding a great sale on something I don't really need, I bought it.

Don't bother going there - there's nothing there yet.

Now to figure out what to do with it... I'm kinda thinking something bloggish. Possibly funny, possibly practical, possibly about being a beginner in Aikido. (Hey! Something I know about!)

Ahhh... A blank slate.
Views: 979 | Comments: 2

In General 6th Kyu Exam Video Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #19 New 09-19-2009 10:42 PM
I had my exam for 6th kyu this morning. You can see the whole thing on video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZR4eKhpRXE Commentary and feedback are invited, of course. (This is the same video I posted on Facebook, in case you've already seen it there.)

At our dojo (www.aikidosd.com) we start as unranked. The first test is for 6th kyu.

The exam covered:
- Ukemi: forward & back roll
- Katate-dori: tai no henko, shihonage (omote & ura)
- Shomen-uchi: tenkan & irimi, ikkyo (omote & ura)
- Jiyuwaza: grabs
- Suwariwaza: kokyu dosa

What I've been telling my non-Aikidoka friends is that this test is a little like graduating from kindergarten. I had to show that I basically know my colors and can tie my own shoes. Simple stuff, but hard for a beginner to master.

Most of the feedback I got was very positive. There were a few hiccups:
- I was mentally off-kilter from having just run back from the restroom (there had been a line). Everyone was already seated on the mat, and my exam was first. So it was run back, sit down, get up, go!
- I was winded from rushing, and it took a few minutes to recover from that at the start.
- I got dizzy/spaced from rolling, so blew my first hanmi (for the shomen-uchi tenkan), and then almost fell over. (D'oh!)
- I was not expecting to have to do shikko (knee walking), so I had no idea why Sensei was asking me if my knees were injured. I think that was my only real deer-in-the-headlights, " ...More Read More
Views: 3593 | Comments: 10

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