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My Path Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 06-08-2009 01:55 PM
Linda Eskin
My path to and through Aikido. Observations on Aikido, fitness, happiness, horses, & life, by a 53 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: 242
Comments: 367
Views: 459,379


In General Commit first, then figure it out Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #32 New 10-24-2009 02:01 PM
Something I have found fun and useful in several areas of life (music, riding, and now Aikido) is to commit to doing or participating in something, and then figure out how to make it happen. For instance, I might commit to being at a weekend horse camping event. Then I have to get after making sure my truck and trailer are ready to go, get my horse used to loading in the trailer, etc. I don't wait until I'm ready, and then commit. I commit, and then use that commitment as a reason to get off my butt and get ready.

I recently signed up for a 3-day riding clinic in March. I've done virtually nothing with Rainy (my horse) for months. So having a date in early spring when we have to be capable of participating in clinic (plus having the truck and trailer current on maintenance, etc.) is a good goal. I've promised to be there, and paid in full. Time to start getting ready.

Now just this past week I have signed up for the Aikido Bridge Friendship Seminar (http://aikidobridge.com/). It's in mid-January. I figured with 3 months to work on everything in general, and to get in better shape, I should be OK to participate in a 4-day seminar without dropping dead. I just need to put in some extra time, focus during class. It's a killer opportunity, but it's just a seminar. No biggie.

And then the videos I ordered arrived, of the same seminar from past years. Uh oh. Mind you, I just did my 6th kyu exam. Nevermind "beginner's mind," I have beginner's everything. The vide ...More Read More
Views: 1617 | Comments: 4

In Spiritual On Being Someone Else Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #31 New 10-21-2009 02:20 AM
A bunch of random-but-related thoughts have been swarming around my head lately like so many butterflies that won't alight long enough to permit a decent photograph. So I'll try doing what I've done before here when I can't herd ideas into coherence - I'll just blurt them all out and see if there's anything useful among the lot.

Thought #1: When I was preparing for my first exam (6th kyu) one of the things I had to work on was basic jiyuwaza (dealing with free-form attacks by Uke - all simple grabs at this level).

Jiyuwaza was really intimidating for me. It wasn't fear of getting hit or grabbed - I've done sparring before (and besides, I knew my mentor/uke wasn't out to get me, really). It was fear of looking stupid, not being able to think of what to do. Brain cramps, basically. It felt to me like being asked to sing a song I didn't know. I didn't know what to do. Deer in the headlights time. Hated it. My mentor, Scott, would suggest practicing jiyuwaza, and I'd melt into a heap of whining about how I hated it, and wasn't any good at it. "Oh no, not that."

Luckily I recognized that for what it was. In addition to Scott's very capable coaching about what to actually do during jiyuwaza, one thing that really helped me was dressage coach Jane Savoie's advice to say to myself "I love doing jiyuwaza! It's my favorite thing! This is my chance to have fun and play!" Yes, I actually said that stuff every time - in a convincing enough way that my brain started to buy into i ...More Read More
Views: 1173 | Comments: 4

In Horses Connection (and Riding) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #30 New 10-11-2009 05:23 PM
I'm just back from this morning's seminar on Connection, and things are only just starting to sink in. So I'm sure I'll have more thoughts (or feelings?) on this eventually. But here are a few things that stood out for me at first glance.

We did an exercise where we did shomenuchi ikkyo, ura waza, but without touching each other. Just staying together through the technique in a sort of magnetic way. It was pretty easy and slow at first, and as Nage it felt a bit like operating a marionette (a puppet operated at a distance by strings). But then we switched partners and I was working with someone doing it quite a bit faster. And I, when I was Uke, had to keep up! It required a lot more alertness, and willingness to actively move with Nage's direction. He'd spiral backward and downward quite fast (it seemed), and I had to move to stay with him. A strange experience, throwing oneself!

A little light went on there. I have been relying on Nage to physically move me through techniques. Not actively resisting, but not actively extending into the technique, either. Shutting down. Being done unto.

Later, while doing kotegaeshi, I injured the back of my hand - I think by getting behind Nage's motion, instead of staying with him. No biggie, but it blew up a little, so I sat out for a while to do the ice, pressure, & elevation thing. It gave me a chance to watch and let things sink in.

Everyone was working on a reversal technique, and exploring the idea that staying connected ...More Read More
Views: 1171 | Comments: 1

In Spiritual Vet Tech Analogy Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #29 New 10-11-2009 05:19 PM
[Originally posted on my blog www.grabmywrist.com, on 10/10/2009, at 4:25 p.m., when AikiWeb was down.]

I've heard it said that Aikido is more like police work than like the military. You want to control a bad situation, keeping everyone as safe as possible. There's nothing comparable to storming in and taking out the enemy. It's an analogy that resonates with me, and has been very useful in explaining to non-Aikido friends why my training isn't about fighting or beating people up.

But I've noticed something in the past week that brought another image to mind. First, I was watching Sensei working with some of the yudansha. There was no rushing, no anger, no malicious intent. What I saw was calm, composed compassion, along with undeniable power and absolute control. It suddenly reminded me of watching a veterinary technician (vet tech) control an animal patient. Vet techs have a variety of techniques they use to immobilize a animal so it can be safely treated without hurting them, the veterinarian, or itself. The animal is absolutely controlled, but with no intent to cause it harm, only kindness and sympathy. It's done firmly, so there's no question in the animal's mind that it might be able to get loose, but no more force is used than necessary. It's interesting that the animal usually feels safe, and calms down.

Later I got to experience being Uke as Sensei demonstrated a technique. The analogy held up. There was no pain, or even force, but there was also no question of resisting, and a sense of total safety.

It's easy to imagine some of the sense of safety being ...More Read More
Views: 1455 | Comments: 1

In Spiritual Don't Push So Hard Against the World Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #28 New 10-07-2009 02:07 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: 1800 | Comments: 4

In Spiritual Discovering Connection Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #27 New 10-04-2009 01:37 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: 939

In Horses Aikido? Or Riding? Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #26 New 10-02-2009 08:33 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: 1001 | Comments: 2

In Learning Patience My A... Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #25 New 09-30-2009 01:34 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: 976 | Comments: 3

In General GrabMyWrist.com is Live Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #24 New 09-27-2009 12:26 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: 781

In General Rhythms Around the Dojo Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #23 New 09-26-2009 10:17 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: 694

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