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Had my first class at 1st kyu last night. Got my belt and got a good dose of correction on things from my last test. Katatedori, Iriminage is one thing on the test I did NOT do well on, and we worked on it a good bit last night. Got my toe stepped on and it's nice and bruised at the moment... but otherwise, I'll live.
I woke up with a migraine this morning, so I'm gonna keep this entry brief.
Mat's are coming! Wednesday night, the new mat should be here and we'll be skipping class in order to bring it in and lay it out along with the new tarp cover. This is going to be nice!
Also, over the last weekend, Sensei Riggs put in over 20 hours of work on the last bit of repairs... still more to do, but it's looking nearly completed in the dojo. The new shomen was built and is looking sharp! Soon, wood trim work will go up along the top edge of the walls to match the shomen and give some contrast. Hopefully one day, we'll be able to put down some sort of wood flooring along the outside of the mat space to walk on... and then call the place finished!
Thanks go out to Lan Powers and John Couch for taking Ukemi for me on the majority of my test. Brandon and Madrid also participated on ukemi... and all in test prep: Thank you very much!
Thanks to my Sister and our friend Kat W. for coming see me test!
Thanks to my Wife, Leslie, for her generousity in letting me outta the house once in a while! (We've just bought a house, have lots to do, got baby on the way in a couple months... OH! BUT let's go AIKIDO! The woman's a saint! )
Thanks to Mike Cervantes! Good to see you Mr. Mike! Thank you for being there and looking forward to you being back on the mat with us.
And thanks to Sensei and Marty Riggs - You two are great mentors and friends. We have the mat on the way, the dojo looking great... only great times ahead! Woo hoo!
Ugh! Test is behind me! Finally! That's a load off of my mind... and it was NOT easy in the least. (Gotta lay it on thick, in case Sensei reads this! )
UGH! TERRIBLE! MEAN! HARSH! DOWN RIGHT ... uncomfrotable?
In truth, it really, really was. Quick side story: Sensei called for three attackers for Futari-gake: one on each arm and one choking me. At the last test, this was the opening of the randori... so after I threw these guys down... they all attacked! Well, that's not what Sensei wanted. He wanted ONLY Futari-gake and for me to do that a couple times...
HUH! Good news however, my randori kicked ASS! Uh! So proud of that. Best one ever for me.
Anyhow, if I have learned anything from this test... it is this: Get tested for the Test ITSELF !!!
I was so not ready for a test. I know the techniques. I know what to do. But in a test, if you flub... you can't stop. I KNOW THIS! And still I did, and then THAT would cause me to panic, make more mistakes, get in a hurry, get irratic, panic mess up more, start breathing shallow, get tired, start to muscle techniques...
DAMN visious cycle.
I really did think the test was a flub with a capital "F" until I got home and saw the video for myself. (Thank God for video camera's!)
Katame Waza - Overall it was pretty good. Lost track on my omote's. Need to polish these up more.
Iriminage - totally flubbed these. Dunno what the hell I was thinking here. I mean... I entered, I threw the uke down.
Well, Lan, Brandon, Madrid, Jason and I worked on my test requirements last night... and I think it's safe to say: I'm done. Dunno if I'm ready, but I'm tired of thinking about it, worrying about it, analyzing it, etc. That's it! I'm done! Either I'm ready or I'm not!
I wish things were better, however. Koshis just plain suck. Don't know that I'll ever like them or get used to them, but they suck and that's putting it nicely. Everything else, I'll probably be able to get by with, but that damn technique is the bane of my aiki-existence. Period.
Tonight is the test. I think I'll use the first thirty minutes of class to warm up and run through a few techniques. After that, I plan to sit off to the side and chill. Meditate. Contemplate nothing until the second half of class which will be designated for test time. I need to show up early to set up the video camera. I'm anxious to see me on film again and compare it to my last test. I know there will be world of difference, but man... I dunno.
Chalk up another two hours!
PS: I've received a lot of words of encouragement over the last several days. It's nice and appreciated... but only time will tell. Less than 10 hours to test time. I'm not worried. I just want it over with.
Last night was more test prep.I've never practiced (really) defense against a front snap kick, which is on the test this time... including the pin. I'm kinda hesitant on it. I have bad knees myself, so I'm very cautious when it comes to this technique/pin. The pin can be brutal, especially the yonkyo which "I" found just inside the ankle above the knot bone... whatever it's called. Vicious!
Kokyunage: I found enough to pass the test, but I wasn't happy with my performance. I really need to quit "stopping" like I do. KEEP GOING! DON'T STOP! One of these days... I'll do that. hehe
Kaiten nage: I need to extend more to catch the arm. Foot work is rusty as well, but I think I'm getting it. Now, the Ura version is a bit off. I know what I need to be doing... just getting there. I dunno. We'll see how the test goes.
Katame waza: Not worried. Just needs some fine tuning.
I think this test is going to go better than the last test. Derren Hill and I were partnered up on our last tests and taking the ukemi along with doing the techniques wore me out quick! If all I have to do is the techniques, I should be much better off this next test time.
Back in class Wednesday and then test on Thursday. If all goes well, I'll pass and then test Shodan this time next year. Sensei was already tripping over himself last night refering to me, Lan and Couch as the black belts. LOL Long story, I'll spare ya...
So, last nights class was kinda fun. Madrid worked on his test requirements while Couch, Lan, Sensei and I worked on our high falls. We're trying to get it down just right so that the fall is soft, or at least softer than just the old fashioned "slap" style. Lan has been watching Donovan Waite's video and so we got the chance to work on that last night.
Things to work on regarding high falls:
1) Lead with the back hand. Gotta REALLY REACH BACK and ease self down on the landing with that back hand.
2) Keep the kick over leg straight with the foot/ankle turned in so as not to slap with the ankles.
3) Straight up and over. I'm at an angle every now and then. Need to really straighten it out on the fall over.
Anyhow, Madrid passed his test. Looked pretty good! He kinda got in a hurry on some thing, needs to extend more. But, he didn't stop and he didn't NOT know at all. He knew it, he just needs to convience himself of that... but all in due time.
Afterwards, we worked on my exam requirements. Only had time to do Yokomenuchi Ikkyo (omote and ura) and got to throw everyone a couple times on each. Still need work on the footwork, but it's coming along. I felt much in control on the mat. Still need to work on footwork, but I realized, just a little bit ago actually, I'm not intimdated anymore. Before now, getting ready for an attack, I remember feeling apprehensive and nervous a bit... especially with Couch because he really gives a good committed attack. Last
My knees suck so bad ("How bad are they?" ) They are so bad, I dunno what the hell I'm gonna do on my test when it comes time to koshi.
Last nights class was practice for testing. Me up first: Koshi's are where I need the help and squating to get under uke is the hardest for me. Thankfully, Lan showed me a couple techniques where I more or less thorw the uke over my hip without nessecarily squating down to do it. Ryokatatedori Koshi (from a Tenchi type set up) and Shomenuchi Koshi (off of an iriminage set up.)
Right now, and as I think about it, I'll be working on some leg strengthening exercises, but I test in a week. Everything else I feel I can do. I'll get tired, but I'll manage somehow. But the knees... that's gonna suck.
Madrid is coming along on his 5th kyu test. He's still questioning himself, but I think we're breaking him of the habit... slowly but surely.
Lan is a good teacher on the mat. He really is in his element up there. It is obvious to see from his understanding of the technique that he has been involved in the martial arts for years and years. Fenching, SCA, Aikido... he's a fighter's teacher. He has a strong affinity for the art and that makes you enjoy it all the more. Good stuff!
Brandon! My gosh! That boy is getting good! He's got a love for aikido and a real desire to do as much as he can! His ukemi is very good, works on high falls every chance he gets, wore a hakama last night and didn't want to take it off or end
Another point I wanted to mention from Kato Shihan's seminar this past weekend was his use of atemi.
Atemi, Atemi everywhere! He didn't need to use it, actual phyically contacting atemi, but he showed where it was and could be. He used both Kiai and Physical Atemi often and used it to keep his uke off guard.
Speed is important. But just as important was his tai sabaki and atemi. The punches he threw were accurate, well timed and caused the uke to lose balance. Whether it was a punch to the face, upper body, groin (Yikes, but it was there) or kick to the gut (yes, the man can kick... and fast!) the atemi always caused the uke to react in such a manner as to be off balance.
Once off balance, Sensei could walk through the technique. Uke had no choice, being doubled over and arms flailing about like a drowning branch, he would just take the arm/hand closest to him and continue in a very nonchalant way of finishing the technique.
His kiai, and I mention this because there are a couple threads going about this subject right now, was loud and direct. It sounded low and gutteral, meaning from the gut and deep from within.
Another point about kiai that I think is often overlooked is the FACT that when you exhale, it causes you to relax. When you relax, you can do aikido. When you tense up and use muscle, you're not doing aikido. I really hope I learn how to use this to my advantage before my next test, otherwise I'm going to be exhausted really, really fast on my next
Oh my gosh... you have no idea unless you've seen the man in person. Awsome! He locked down on one uke so hard, it made ME tap out! LITERALLY! :lol:
Anyhow, Friday we left for a ten hour drive to Houston. Ugh! Long drive, but well worth it.
Things I picked up on:
1) Keeping everything in front of you. Sensei moves his hips so well, you barely notice what he's doing. You have to really pay attention to pick up his footwork, hips, getting off line... all of it. Everything stays right in front of him, so if he tenkans, he's chunking you and you better be ready to take the ukemi on it!
2) Posture. He is so relaxed, has such good posture. With the good posture comes the ability to tenkan very well and maintain your own balance. If you have good posture and extend your arms, then you will not muscle anything and you will let your hips do all the work, that is of course if you move them.
3) Relax! I did kokyu dosa with one of shihan's students (he brought two students from Japan with him, a guy and girl) and she allowed no connection until I finally relaxed. Once I did, she moved with the gratest of ease. I'm still trying to figue out this one. Though my knees are sore, I'm REALLY looking forward to doing kokyu dosa again so I can work on this.
4) Up, up, UP! Everything comes up! On our jo work, he corrected Couch on raising the jo high. He explained that back in the day, in kendo practice, if you struck shomen, you would hit the uke... sure. But if you RAISED yo
Lan taught last night. Last class before I go see Kato in Houston. REALLY looking forward to that!
Ikkyo from Shomenuchi. Worked with Fino on this one. My extension is so much better compared to just a year ago. Still working on Kato's footwork, however. For whatever reason, I keep thinking it is different from what I was learning four years ago, even though it isn't really. I need to work on the cut. I still grab too early when I need to cut the uke over completely then grab in preparation for the take-down.
Next, we worked on tenchinage. This is one I was really rust on a week ago. Last night was better, but with my height, I really need to concentrate more on the "earth" lower hand than I do the other. Lower my center down and extend back into the void. I guess that's what O'Sensei is talking about when he says to "blend" or "become one" with the void. If you take the uke to their weakest point, then that is what you are doing ... joining the void. Humph. Have to ponder that one.
Ryorandori? Ugh! Talk about work up a sweat! My feet are still to heavy. I have a nasty habit of planting my feet, dunno why. When I think "up" then it works so much better. Otherwise, I might as well be throwing buses or something.