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I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to put together a coherent set of ideas for a post. So once again, here are some random bits:
Still digesting everything Nadeau Sensei said when he was here for a seminar. One way he suggests looking at things is that you (your body, hips, and hara) are "the vaccuum cleaner" and the techniques (what your arms and hands are doing) are just attachments. It's the horsepower/amperage that make the machine powerful, not which kind of brush you snap onto the hose.
I'm beginning to see some of the layers of the onion that Aikido is. One that seems to keep coming up in the past couple of weeks is misdirection, as in magic. Using atemi to draw uke's focus, appearing to be rooted on the line of attack while actually preparing to rotate off of it, etc. Playing with people's perceptions is fascinating stuff.
I've discovered that, in spite of trying to stay relaxed, I'm doing something during bokken work that's really hurting my neck muscles - the little ones on the front and sides. I think it's a combination of weakness there, and of using the wrong muscles to compensate for others that are weak. So I have some new strengthening and stretching exercises to do.
On of my favorite sempai, Johnathon Purcell, tested for shodan yesterday. Here is slo-mo video of his first throw in his new hakama: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEShoS3CzIg&fmt=18
He started at Aikido of San Diego when he was 11 years old. He's off to college at UC Berkele
[The sidebar on the AikiWeb forums shortened the title of my post from "Tripping over my own BRAIN" to: "Tripping over my own bra..." That would be a hilarious post, but this one is about my brain. Not nearly so funny. Maybe next time...]
First, the seminar with Nadeau Sensei was great. Enlightening, engaging, educational, and very entertaining. More on that another time.
Right now tonight's class (training day 16), or rather how I did in tonight's class, is the subject. Poorly would be a kind word for it. I couldn't get anything right for the life of me. Things I've done OK before, I got backwards, inside out, and upside down. Things I finally did right just a second ago, were wrong all over again now.
It was like I couldn't grasp what I was seeing or being told. I would swear the inside leg swept backward, but when I'd get to that point in the technique, my inside leg was already back, and what I thought I knew to do next didn't make any sense at all. So then what do you do?
And when you don't do it right the first n times, the n+1th time isn't any better. It feels like rushing through learning a song. When you learn to play or sing a song, you have to learn what's going to be coming next at each point. If you get to a point in the tune, and have to stop and check every time to see what follows, you never learn the tune. You learn to stop and check. You have to be able to think, during the line about the tree, that the next line i
I will be participating in a seminar this weekend - "Aikido as an Art of Harmony" with Robert Nadeau Shihan, at Aikido of San Diego (www.aikidosd.com). Not a huge deal, but from the "Aikido as a laboratory for life" perspective, it's a big deal for me. Having a goal with a deadline tends to focus one's attention and efforts far better than simply "getting better at this, someday" would.
Before I ever stepped onto a mat I did a lot of reading and learning while healing from a minor hand injury. Once I was OK to do physical stuff I found a dojo. Then I spent several weeks recovering from the Very Long Cold From Hell. I finally started training in May. I expected a lot from Aikido, and it's proving to be much more than that, even.
I've gotten through a few muscle injuries, a shoulder injury, and the stunning realizations that a) I was in no kind of good shape At All, and b) I really can be, if I just work at it. I've done PT, gotten massages (not the happy fun kind), and started working with a personal trainer to set up a personalized workout plan. I've made progress in leaps and bounds, compared to what I'd previous thought I could achieve.
One of my short-term goals has been to be in good enough shape to participate in this weekend's seminar. I have been rolling and falling in Aikido classes, with no problems. I've been very careful not to injure/reinjure myself, and have been doing everything I can to heal well, and quickly. Since getting back on the mat. I've been
I am going for my first consultation with a personal trainer tomorrow. www.fitnesswithoutwalls.com She's going to help me come up with a "real world" workout program I can do on my own. The goal is to be in better shape for Aikido and horseback riding (and everything else, generally), and to prevent injuries by making sure I'm doing things correctly.
I've set up a kind of blog-thing about that, with photos of places and equipment I have for working out, my goals, etc. If you're interested, you can find it here: http://fitforfun.tumblr.com/
I'll keep right on blogging here about Aikido, of course.
Boy, what a contrast... If you've been keeping up (not that I would expect anyone to), you know that I injured my shoulder a while back. Through the miracle of PT, massage, ice, exercise, rest, ice, stretching, ice, and time, it is better. I got the OK on Monday of last week to go back to rolling/falling, with the admonition to not land on the top of my shoulder ever again.
Last Tuesday my brain was not ready to roll at all. I couldn't even picture what a decent roll would look like. Stupid brain.
So this Tuesday I figure I'd manage to start back to rolling, which I was doing reasonably well before my injury (thank goodness for that, so I had some good mental point of reference). Alas, Tuesday's class comes around, and I really couldn't bring myself to get to do it. I also couldn't seem to do anything else right in class. Very frustrating. And everyone I worked with was trying to be very helpful. And usually they are helpful. (I'm regularly amazed at how good everyone is at teaching, even 6th/5th kyu people.) But on Tuesday I couldn't make heads nor tails of many of the techniques, so repeating them was just annoying, because I was repeating the wrong thing, or doing it differently each time. I was so disappointed with myself that I went home and by gosh practiced re-learning how to roll (very gently and slowly) in the living room floor.
That finally seemed to remind my brain a little that "See,
I've been a bit slow putting together enough connected thoughts about it to make a proper blog post. Now I'm just giving up and blurting out some unconnected things.
First, I got a surprise at my PT appt on Monday. My PT was very happy, told me to cancel my upcoming appointment, and gave me the go-ahead to roll, fall, and whatever else I want to do. "But if you land on that shoulder again, don't come crying to me."
Class was on Tuesday. I figured it would be best to start with rolling practice (solo only, I mean), and just do back rocking-falls (not all the way over) as uke. I wasn't quite confident enough to do forward rolls out of techniques. That seemed like a conservative and rational plan.
Strange though, how our brains are not rational. I say "easy, soft rolls that I was doing quite happily and with confidence before I got injured, so no problem." Brain, on the other hand, says "Uh, no way. We're gonna die." So I was thinking too much, and being too cautious and tense, and nothing worked well (except the sitting-backwards-and-rocking-back kinds of falls). I couldn't do a simple slow back roll to save my life. Have you seen that Garfield (the cat) cartoon where John (the owner) asks Garfield how he manages all 4 feet when he walks, and Garfield gets to thinking about it, and then can't walk because he's so confused? It felt like that.
Well, OK, I did *one* back roll very nicely after class, but when
I had been figuring (based on what my PT had said a couple of weeks ago) that I'd be out for a few more weeks yet. But yesterday both he and my orthopedic Doc put me through the ringer with exercises and x-rays, and both agreed I was doing great, and could go back to class. No rolling or falling yet, but anything else that doesn't hurt is fair game. I even showed Doc a video (on my iPod) from my dojo, to be sure he understood what Aikido was. He thought I was nuts to want to do that (he's hilarious), but didn't think my shoulder would be in danger.
I tried some gentle warm-ups from class at home last night, as a sanity check, and that went well. So tonight I joined in, instead of just watching.
I kinda figured I would make it partway through (a 90-minute class), and would start to get sore/ouchy, but noooo.... I did fine. Everyone was very considerate in their techniques, and really nothing hurt at all. I'm just giddy.
The exercises I've been able to do (both strengthening, and mental/awareness kind of things) have made a huge difference. (Many thanks to everyone who suggested things to do, and cautioned me about things to not do, in response to a question I asked on the Forums this past week!) I don't feel any of the muscle pain I did in the first few classes, and felt more stable and solid during class.
I was especially encouraged right from the start (during a pre-class 15-minute meditation period), when my r
I am observing classes for another few weeks. My shoulder is feeling quite good now (yay!). I just need to let it heal completely, and strengthen/stabilize the joint to help prevent future injuries. So I'm still benched, and doing what my PT says I must. It's easy to see now that it will be fine before long.
The class tonight was taught by one of the yudansha, as Sensei is out of town for the week. There was a lot of the same patient instruction, with complex techniques being built step-by-step of their component parts. And like Sensei, and the other teachers I've seen, this teacher has a mischievous and kind sense of humor. A few parts of the class were different from what I've seen before...
There was some jo work (which I had not seen yet at all). They went through a couple of techniques, and then did some interesting exercises in avoiding a very slow-moving jo by just changing body position (keeping feet mostly still). Imagine if the TSA were waving a metal-detecting wand all over you, but you were afraid it would tickle if it were to touch you (my visualization, not the instruction to the class).
Then there were some techniques that a 1st or 2nd kyu had requested, since she will be tested on them soon. The class started from very slow walk-throughs, and ended with very competent, quite fast techniques. I'm sure I won't remember how to do them, but I saw individual parts (certain movements and postures) that I can work on at home.
One of the things I want to do with this blog, for my own reference, is to keep track of my training, challenges, goals, etc. I'll title these "Training Diary, YYYY-MM-DD" so they will be easy to ignore if you want to. I don't know yet where the blog Categories appear, but I'll put them all under my "Training Diary" category.
This is another "getting caught up" post (from a little notebook I've kept), since I'm several weeks in already. Future "Training Diary" posts will cover about one class or one week at a time.
Physical Info - Starting Point
Health: Coming off 2 weeks or a horrendous cold. Feeling better.
Weight: 189 lbs., goal of 160 lbs. (And then "We'll see.")
Fitness: Sedentary work, semi-active fun (cleaning horse pen, gardening...). Few PT exercises for shoulder. No working out or stretching for many years.
Vertigo: Much better over past couple of months. Encouraged, but concerned that rolling and breakfalls could set it off again.
Tuesday evening, May 5, 2009
Really fun, awesome people, great time, very excited about Aikido.
Very sore, tired quads later. Did lots of walking and stretching.
Started walking around park several times during the day at work.
Saturday morning, May 9, 2009
An hour before class something "went out" a little in my hip. Figured it would loosen up with work. Ha! Wrong. On very first attempt at rolling hip went into spasm.
This is a reply to Tara Marsh's blog post, but was WAY over the max length for a reply. Please see her post at http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/trademark8806s-blog-17256/odd-question-3520/, and please post replies to her there.
It's nice to see another new blogger here. I just started mine few days ago. My apologies for the very long reply. I hope some of it is useful.
We all learn at different speeds, and in different ways. We are supposed to be doing our best, but beyond that there's no set amount of progress that can be expected of anyone. People who have studied Aikido for many years still feel that they haven't mastered many things. You're very new at Aikido (as am I - I started in May). Keep looking for the best ways to learn and retain information and techniques, but don't be too hard on yourself.
Have you talked to Sensei, and explained how you learn best? It can be frustrating for a teacher to try everything they can think of to "reach" a student, and still see the student struggling. It may look like you aren't giving it your best, to someone who doesn't understand the way you need to learn things.
I hear the name of one technique in class, and try to remember it, but when I hear the name of the next technique, the first one escapes me. I find it very hard to learn words and facts just by listening. If I don't take notes in classes, I won't be able to recall much of it at all. It's like having to organize the information enough to write it down