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As you can see from the daily schedule I posted, we have a 50 minute lunch break every day.
At the pre-course orientation meeting, Payet-sensei told us to make sure to eat good stamina foods. Since we're in Japan, I assumed this meant starches like rice and noodles. This isn't what I would normally eat, but I decided to do what was recommended.
So for the first three days of the course, I ate noodles, mixed with chunks of boiled squash and mayonnaise. This is a dish that I learned to make from a Japanese woman. It sounds disgusting but is actually delicious. However, it was making me feel nauseous in the after-lunch keiko session.
On day 3, Crampton-sensei said something about eating protein for lunch. Then I knew I was familiar territory, so I mentioned that I normally wouldn't eat starches like this since they make me feel sleepy, and he was very open to that idea. So I decided to ditch the starches.
Ever since then I have eaten some sort of animal plus an avocado for lunch each day. I love avocados, and they don't sit heavy in my stomach. Plus you don't have to cook them at all. I didn't intend to attract attention, but one day Takenaga-san was writing in her journal at lunch and asked me what I was eating. Apparently, she tought it was hilarious that I eat an avocado every day and was recording my meals in her training journal!!
So it's become a running joke that my lunch is "avocado surprise"--i.e., an avocado plus a surprise.
As I mentioned yesterday, we had done a somewhat funny exercise of follow-the-wrist in the first keiko session. Apparently, this was a lead-up to starting jiyu waza today.
Of course, we know only shihonage--and that very shallowly--so we were practicing uke.
In the conditioning class, there are 3 kenshusei students, 1 instructor, and 1 sewanin (course assistant), who is Nick, my roommate and a graduate of last year's kenshusei course. So that leaves 1 shite for each of 2 students, plus one student to mind the stop-watch. We did three-minute intervals of jiyu waza with the students rotating between the shite and the stop-watch.
If you have been uke for jiyu waza before, you know it is tiring even if you're in decent physical condition. The goal is to keep up your ukemi form and maintain a strong attacking spirit. The key to being successful seems to be to remain calm and relaxed, even if you're huffing and puffing.
In addition to kihon dosa renzoku, we have to perform demonstrations of jiyu waza as uke... for either Payet-sensei or Crampton-sensei, I believe.
I thought we would continue with shihonage ichi today, but actually, they introduced shihonage ni instead in the afternoon classes. This was disappointing at first since I was looking forward to working out some of the problems in my technique. However, it ended up being fairly satisfying since shihonage ni went much better for me than shihonage ichi.
We started waza today. I was a bit surprised because I thought we would spend all of April on ukemi and kihon dosa, neither of which are at even barely acceptable level, at least not consistently. However, since we have to perform in the embu in May, I think they want to push us a little bit.
For today and the rest of the week, we are practicing shihonage, which is the first technique in Yoshinkan. Specifically, we started today with katate mochi shihonage ichi. In Yoshinkan, techniques are divided into ichi and ni classes depending on whether shite is moving forward or backward. Katate mochi is wrist grab, and shihonage is, as everyone knows, "Four Directions Throw."
The day started well with a good first class, and when I heard we were going to start shihonage today, I thought, I'm going to knock this class out today, because I've been doing shihonage in ippan classes since I got here in January. But ohhh, no! By the end of the day today, I didn't think I understood anything about shihonage at all.
In ippan classes, I am used to Payet-sensei saying things like "good, good" or "yeeees" or "that's it" (not necessarily to me, but in general--he is very even and good-tempered instructor). But today I think he actually looked disgusted. I guess that is the difference between expectations for ippan students and kenshusei students.
Here is a partial list of problems with my technique:
- atemi coming from arm rather than back leg
- too much tension in the fo
In Angry White Pyjamas, Twigger quotes an instructor named Chino as saying that he had decided to die when he came to the Yoshinkan.
When I re-read AWP on my trip to Seoul last month, I was struck by this. Just a week or so before, Carter-sensei had told me some stories about Chino and his "textbook" form. I decided that because of my knees the only way I would be able to get through the course was to be determined to be crippled by the end of the course.
This was a nice idea. It helped get me through 40 minutes of seiza in the pre-course meeting. And it is probably the only way I can get through the course. For indeed, I am weaker and less well balanced and more unsure myself on my feet as each day passes.
However, the reality of being crippled is something quite different from being crippled theoretically. The reality is that crippling yourself for aikido means, at least in the case of degenerative joint disease, being unable to perform aikido in addition to putting up with pain. The pain is not just in seiza, and it is not just on a bike, or getting up from the toilet. It is all of those things, plus collapsing the knee when attempting seiza ho and crumpling to the floor when meeting any resistance in shikko.
Is this the meaning of spirit? It is one thing to finish a fight with a broken limb or a sprain in the midst of an adrenaline and endorphin rush. It is something else to train every day and maintain focus when your whole world is searing.
Probably you have heard of treating injuries with RICE, an acronym for Rest Ice Compression Elevation.
Well, on the kenshusei course, Rest is not really an option. So I have devised my own alternative treatment, called LICE, for Liquor Ice Compression Elevation.
Yes, it's true that I get the giggles over the R/L swap.
Seriously, if you use enough of the L component, you can get through the rest of the day until next morning's training. L can be used liberally while I is being applied to the affected area in 20 minute intervals. For me, C is now pretty much constant in the form of athletic knee supports that I wear 80% of the time I am off the mat. After enough L + I, E doesn't seem so important. It is also the hardest to do effectively, but stick with the program. Remember: L. I. C. E.
The rest of last week was spiced up with prepping for an embu in May. At Shiramine-jinja, we are putting on a demonstration of the kihon dosa performed with swords. It is essentially a kata called kihon dosa renzoku. Renzoku means continuous.
So practices this week have been mostly exercises such as practicing shikko ho interspersed with more repetitions of kihon dosa renzoku. Really, coordinating the movements for a demonstration is not more difficult than high school marching, but there are a couple spots where I make a mistake about 50% of the time, so that has to get fixed. Also, hiriki no yosei ni still kills me with its impossible impossibility. I don't get it.
I was wasting time this morning on the Internet, and I found a video of kihon dosa renzoku. It just happens to be embedded in a video of Mike Tyson visiting the hombu dojo!! This is a Yoshinkan legend, but I had no idea there was actually video of it. Payet-sensei can be seen at 0:07, 1:13, and 9:42. Keep an eye out for Don King, too. Don King in an aikido video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aobp1CKYERQ
Kihon dosa renzoku starts at 1:42, unfortunately the middle of the demonstration is cut out of the video, but you get the idea. Before this morning, I thought this kata was something Crampton- and Carter-senseis came up with on the fly for the embu. I wonder how far back it goes...
Like God in Genesis, Payet-sensei and Crampton-sensei took today off. All training today was conducted by Carter-sensei with Nick's assistance.
I was very sore today despite feeling very good last night after my 1-1/4 hours ukemi practice. When I went to bed last night, I felt limber everywhere and energized. When I got up this morning, I could barely move anywhere, the bottoms of my feet hurt, my knees were screaming, and the back of my legs were sore as hell. Plus I was exhausted.
Today was the first day of training I thought I can't do this all year. We had a fairly light workout today, but my legs just got progressively more sore as the day wore on. I think I may have pulled a hamstring yesterday. And my knees were just about ready to burst at any moment. The pain was bad enough that it really inhibited my ability to do anything properly. It's one thing to have a sore spot that you work around, it's something else to have pain throughout your legs to the point that it's difficult to move them.
The only way past this point is to concentrate on the moment. Can I go all year like this? No. But maybe I can make it through tomorrow and the next day and the next, and then there's the weekend. It's the only way, weekend to weekend, hoping to recover from minor strains and major soreness enough to make it through another 5 days.
Keiko session 1 included back of hand push-ups (yes, that's right, back of hand--for strengthening against taking kotegaeshi) a
So far, we've had to get out alcohol and zokin rags to clean up blood 3 times on the course, but today was the first day I personally made libation to the Yoshinkan gods. Also, today I did an ukemi.
Each week, one student is chosen to be shinkoku toban, which I think translates as something like "ceremonial leader." Shinkoku toban leads the days' opening and closing ceremonies and also the taiso (stretching exercises). Last week, the first week, shinkoku toban was Nick, a course sewanin. This week fellow student Izzy was chosen.
Keiko session 1 was more conditioning and ukemi work. Taiso (warm-ups) were led by Izzy and we then practiced correct taiso including work on kiai.
It was during keiko 1 that I started to bleed from my elbow. Nothing serious, just a blister that had formed last week rubbed down to a bloody spot this morning.
Keiko session 2 was shakko ho and tai no henko ichi, including tai no henko partner exercises and more repetitions with senseis instructing us to get lower, keep the back straight, the chest open, etc. All while sweat was running like rivers and the legs were cramping up. Fun stuff.
Keiko session 3 started with shikko ho, including moving backwards in shikko. This I cannot do yet. I think Crampton-sensei was visibly annoyed at the low level of performance this afternoon.
After classes ended for the day, Carter-sensei mentioned that we would be stepping up ukemi practice soon in preparation for an enbu (demonstration) a
I went to the grocery store today. I thought readers might be interested to see the prices I paid for things. The exchange rate right now is around 95 yen to the US dollar...
1/4 squash - 59 yen - $0.60
1/4 cabbage - 89 yen - $1.00
avacado - 98 yen - $1.10
frozen blueberries - 214 yen - $2.25
lime - 138 yen - $1.50
4.5 lbs of rice - 980 yen - $10.00
grilled small fishes (2 lunches) - 298 yen - $3.25
sashimi on sale (2 lunches) - 298 yen - $3.25
Blendy instant coffee (4 cups) - 198 yen - $2.25
1/2 liter of milk - 188 yen - $2.00
creme brulee - 118 yen - $1.25
1-1/2 liters Pocari Sweat (sports drink) - 198 yen - $2.25
1L-equiv of Pocari Sweat dry mix - 105 yen - $1.00
deodorant - 498 yen - $5.25
I made rice socks when I got home. If you make them right, rice socks really live up to the hype. They feel incredibly good in the winter or when you have aches and pains, and they hold the heat an incredibly long time. I used pantyhose to make mine, but now they have a run in them, so it's back to the hyaku-en shop for some cheap socks soon. Only socks with small weave will work.