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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 10:53 PM
One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 272 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 493,155

In General Getting into Gokkyo Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #139 New 06-23-2004 08:54 PM
[Quote of the Day: "It's the "Z" of pain," is how I described the Gokkyo pin to Sempai Jim.]

As you may or may not have noticed, I've been intentionally leaving out of my journal days during which I trained, but did not get the opportunity to practice any test techniques --- more out of a sense of brevity, a kind of economy of words and effort that I can't help but exercise these days due to being so very busy at work. (Which is probably why I'm now being extremely verbose --- I think I'm in Aikido-journal-writing withdrawal!) Actually, Sensei and I had a discussion about this just now after class. Out of a concern that I might be spreading myself too thin, he asked if I had set boundaries for myself with work. To this I replied yes, so long as they don't infringe on my Aikido! Working before it, coming in late after it, working extra on the weekends: that's all fine. But try to make me miss class, and I'll bite yer head off! Needless to say, Sensei was quite pleased.

We started out tonight with a slightly different warm-up than usual: we did some paired exercises --- mostly stretches, but also a very interesting shiatsu pressure-point manipulation up and down our partner's back (pairing this with focusing your ki through your hand, and breathing), as well as doing "travelling" ukemi all around the edge of the mat instead of lined up in a row like usual. All in all, it made for a nice, fresh change to the everyday routine.

The test technique I picked out for myself tonight (finally starting to get used to this --- heh) was Shomenuchi Gokkyo. [/quote] ...More Read More
Views: 1262

In General Nasty, Brutish and Short Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #138 New 06-20-2004 11:00 AM
...besides life, apparently refers to me. It can also refer to Kotegaeshi, as I've experienced it at the hands of some Sempai of mine --- my "Nikkyo Wrist", which I've had for over a month now, was actually caused by an overzealous Kotegaeshi coupled with my own inept ukemi for it

[Quote of the Day: "You're such a brute." Sensei teasing me after I do a round of Katatedori Kotegaeshi on him (hey, he asked me to really "give 'er!", so I did)]

It was one of those really small classes again on Friday night --- just me, Sensei, and the new guy; so we did the old standard of an informal, independent warmup followed by working on just the one technique throughout the evening, cycling through practice as a group of three.

Kotegaeshi has always been hit or miss for me. In this way, it's pretty much become symbolic of my own Aikido as a whole right now. There will be times when it feels just brilliant --- smooth, flowing, and makes my ukes yelp --- and other times when it feels sluggish and about as effective as doing Kotegaeshi on a dead horse, or my ability to come up with a decent analogy.

Thankfully, for the likes of me, there are enough newbies coming through the dojo on a regular basis that we are often forced to turn our attention time and time again to the basics. Goodness knows, I need it. Things I still need to pay a great deal of attention to re: Kotegaeshi include:
- Using the momentum of the initial tenkan to bring uke down low
- Taking care not to get crowded with my elbow over uke's arm during this
- Planting my back leg during the final turn into Kotegaeshi so as not to end up with my legs crossed, a [/quote] ...More Read More
Views: 475

In General That Dreaded, Boring Journal Entry with Nothing bu Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #137 New 06-17-2004 08:38 PM
Sigh...here we go. Seeing as I skipped doing this for Tuesday night's test technique, I might as well just lump it in with tonight's. I know it's dull, but I also know that I should do it, and it's not like it's deserving of being a "private" entry either. I mean, as if I have any oh-so-secret techniques of martial mastery to hide from the rest of you. Hehehe...even if I did...if I told you, I'd have to kill you. Mwahahahaha! Ahem --- I mean, oops! Did that slip out? That wasn't very "Way of Harmony" of me, was it now?


Yokomenuchi Kotegaeshi:
- Enter in directly, but instead of blocking uke's striking hand (and stopping it), lead it downwards somewhat, then continue this downward motion with a sweeping cut using the other hand
- Then...thank goodness the rest is just like the regular Kotegaeshi we've done before. You know the drill. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Ushiro Ryotekubidori Shihonage (the dynamic version --- Now with Extra Flow!):
- Remember to open "bait" hand outwards during initial leading of uke around, then bring it into centre before direction change (when second hand is grabbed)
- Distinction between Omote and Ura --- don't forget to step across/bring uke's arm across his body, which constitutes Omote; it feels more natural and flowing to do this with whole body (time this with step forward) while you are already swinging uke's arm upwards. I don't seem to be having much of a problem with Ura at all, because it ...More Read More
Views: 375

In General Unfamiliar Independence Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #136 New 06-16-2004 09:56 PM
[Quote of the Day: "Does that feel any better? And by 'better', I mean 'worse'?" Me, asking my Kohai Ken to tell me how effective my Kotegaeshi feels after making some technique adjustments.]

Once again, we worked on test techniques in lieu of the usual Randori (sniffle) --- and once again, I got to choose which I wanted to work on. Running down the list, I noticed Yokomenuchi Kotegaeshi as yet another that I had never done before and picked that. It worked out nicely, as Kohai Ken was himself having to work on Yokomenuchi Shihonage and had also remembered Sempai Garry having worked on my new technique not that long ago. So he was able to help me get the ball rolling, so to speak, with ideas on how it went (seeing as I had absolutely no clue how to start).

As I've alluded to before, being given "carte blanche" (as Sempai Garry calls it) from Sensei to start learning new techniques independently is quite unfamiliar territory. Thus far, I seem to have been getting along fairly well by mimicking what I'm shown in almost all the martial arts I've ever done. Being a "copycat" has always been a rather easy, safe route to take --- granted with Aikido (as all of you know) it becomes a great deal more complex. Now add to this the challenge of having to very nearly start learning from scratch...I know that ultimately "there is no technique", as O Sensei was known to have said. And I know that (as I've been told) knowing the basics really sets you up for other techniques because the same principles are applied --- everything else, as they say, is simply a variation of the basics.

So why does it feel like such a challenge? Perhaps it's my own mindset that[/quote] ...More Read More
Views: 334

In General The Trials and Tribulations of Sempai Jamie Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #135 New 06-12-2004 10:24 AM
[Quote of the Day: "Well, it's been a long week." --- Me, once after flubbing up a seemingly-simple Dai-Kotegaeshi, and again after flubbing up bowing out, of all things.]

Apparently my Sempai were going at it pretty hard on Thursday night (which I missed due to work --- waaah) so not surprisingly it was just me, two of my Kohai and a new student yesterday night. So by default ("the two sweetest words in the English language") I became Sensei's demo uke for the night. No flamboyant breakfalls for me this time, though. Just all the basic stuff: Tae no henko, Katatedori Kokyuho, Katatedori Shihonage. Nothing to screw up the ukemi on.

The new student was extra fortunate to have his first day at the dojo be one of fairly smooth transitions overall --- after a discussion I had with Sensei the other night regarding the origins of certain classic exercises we don't do in class very often (its assumed we make a habit of working on them at home), we found ourselves practicing a bit of Irimi Tenkan, Funekogi-Undo, Ikkyo-Undo and Zendo-Undo --- all things that both I and the new student were quite familiar with from his former Ki-Societyesque dojo.

Working on the basics and these old exercises again is not only nostalgic, but quite the humbling experience for me these days --- they always go to show that regardless of how well I think I may know the basic form of them, it doesn't matter --- what always comes to the fore is exactly how much I still need to work on engaging my hips to generate power. As a result, I've been trying to slow things down a lot to work on making this a habit, an impressing this into my body's memory. As you [/quote] ...More Read More
Views: 495

In General Getting Used to Moving...Differently Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #134 New 06-09-2004 10:13 PM
[Quote of the Day:
"There are a lot of strange ways of moving in Aikido that, after a while, you just get used to." Sensei remarked to Victor.
"Gosh, I sure hope so," said I.]

For the past couple of days, we've had rather small classes, and so have concentrated primarily on test preparation. Currently being on the road to yonkyu has opened the door to some new techniques for me, along with some new approaches to learning that, well --- will all take some getting used to, to say the least. The latter, I'll have to cover in future when I have a little more time, but for now you'll just have to be satisfied with this mundane housekeeping business for now.

Now for that time in the journal entry when I prattle off some dull but helpful notes on the new test techniques I've started learning so far. Just feel free to scroll down past these if and when you get bored.

Katatedori Iriminage (both from Ai Hanmi and Gyaku Hanmi)
From Ai Hanmi:
- maintain connection to uke with grabbed wrist by absorbing inwards slightly and bringing arm around counterclockwise (keep arm straight, don't collapse in at elbow)
- keep uke's head flush against chest, and sweep arm down low enough to touch or almost touch the mat
From Gyaku Hanmi:
- enter in similar to Morotaedori Iriminage, only breaking uke's grip by moving in with arm rising upwards diagonally
- keep uke's head right into chest, but don't have to bring down as low as with Ai Hanmi
For both:
- hold onto uke's collar if easier than grabbing neck
- finish throw off by stepping in (almost perpendicular) under uke's body, and aligned forward towards him (not sideways) with arms out in front sl[/quote] ...More Read More
Views: 345

In General Some Sharp and Cutting Commentary Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #133 New 06-07-2004 09:58 PM
...on The Art of Drawing the Sword in Very Specific Ways

[Quote of the Day: "If I thought you were brutalizing me, I'd kick your ass. I don't know how I'd do it, but trust me, I'd find a way." - My response to Sensei's query to me if I ever felt brutalized or abused in class.]

Having sampled a little bit of Iaido visually when I visited Toronto last December [see past entry from 01-01-2004, "Training in Toronto: Toronto Aikikai (Day 2 of 2 - 12.30.03)"] it was an even more exciting experience to be able to sample it physically tonight courtesy of our visiting Yudansha --- albeit using bokken instead of real swords (heck, we're dangerous enough with wooden ones as it is!) Once again, Sensei came through with yet another great way to expand the breadth of our experience [see past entry from 04-24-2004 , "Aikikai/Iwama Gasshuku - Day One of Two" ).

Iaido is, to be quite glib about it, an anal-retentive person's worst nightmare. Or so we were to find out. It is so painstakingly ritualistic in its ways (not that this comes as much of a surprise --- you have to be when you're using live blades) that having to initially attempt to remember every minute little detail is enough to make one's head spin (poor Sempai Garry). Don't get me wrong, it's a perfectionist's dream --- and like the annoying over-achiever that I am, I enjoyed every excruciating minute of it.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for me personally was in trying to get used to the lack of balance that some of the stances (both kneeling and upright) caused, more than likely due to their lack of physical familiarity to me...we are told that in theory, these movements are all in fact quite pragmatic. I for one, found some of the foot positioning somewhat uncomfortable and unnatural-feeling in how narrow they were at times.

The art seems also for the most part, in this modern (and horribly, tediously safe) society, a rather solitary practice. I'm guessing that at one point in its development, its originators dabbled a bit with practicing on a partner but found that much to their chagrin, they would for some reason have to replace their training partner more often the better and better they got at cutting them.

Views: 433

In General Learning from Yudansha what Not to Do (aka the No Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #132 New 06-06-2004 11:43 AM
[Quote of the Day: "It may be that your sole purpose in
life is simply to serve as a warning to others."]

Well, it's been some time since I've been journaling on Aikiweb, but thankfully it's not because I haven't been to class --- quite the contrary, as I'm still out about 4 times a week and (hopefully) gaining substantial progress in exchange for all these fantastic thrills and spills...


- that darn "Nikkyo-wrist" is still hanging around after a few weeks...thinking of finally seeing a physiotherapist about it

- freaking out the guys over a scary-looking ukemi from Sensei's Kaitenage --- thankfully, it looked a lot worse than it was (as Sempai Tim said to me afterwards, "I thought you broke your neck! I was going to call an ambulance!") --- I had landed in a faceplant on the right side of my neck and kind of slumped over, I guess in a seemingly lifeless manner (apparently the guys tell me the sound I made hitting the mat wasn't exactly pleasant either) --- I'm lucky all that I got afterwards (iced my neck upon Sensei's advice) was a slight pull in the muscle next to my right shoulder.

- the infamous "Turf Toe" after my big toe got caught in a visiting black belt's excessively long (and obviously dangerous) hakama (this thing was dragging on the ground, it was so long); didn't help any that on top of this (hyperextending my toe downwards) to add insult to injury, he dropped his weight on my toe without realizing it...it was the nastiest Turf Toe I've ever received so far (knock on wood) --- after a while, I was having difficulty even putting m[/quote] ...More Read More
Views: 449 | Comments: 2

In General Forward and Fatalistic Thinking Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #130 New 05-18-2004 07:24 PM
[Quote of the Day: "You're getting 'Tensor' and tenser," --- "punningly" remarked Sempai Jeremy upon seeing my Tensor-brand neoprene wrist brace.]

So it finally happened. I never thought it would happen to me, but lo and behold, I have long last reached that point in my training where I can take that deep breath and say, "I earned it."

Yes, folks. I have "Nikkyo-wrist"!

At least that's what the guys in my dojo call it. Now, no need for congratulations. Having been called by Sensei at turns, "Miss Rubber-Joints" and the one that "has no tendons", I'm just as surprised at the next person. But I've already milked this for all it's worth, so I best get to the point :

Aside from some Katadori Kokyunage, we did some Kotegaeshi a couple of times (from both Yokomenuchi in Suwari Waza and Tsuki) which, along with Nikkyo of course, tends to aggravate my weak left wrist. Suffice it to say, I had been for some time rather...apprehensive about breakfalling on that side but a round practicing this technique as Sensei's uke seems to have fixed that for the most part. My ukemi felt a lot lighter and more flowing this time --- something I can only assume to attribute not only to thinking/visualizing myself as moving forward more into the fall but perhaps even that fearless, fatalistic mode that I have known myself to switch on at times on the mats (and of which I have written about only in private entries thus far --- in a nutshell, it's a Samurai mindset: not fearing death --- or in this case, injury. I once read a lot about it both in Musashi's "Book of Five Rings" and the Hagakure). [For some interesting Aiki-related quotes from the former text, see past journal entry: '"A Book of Five Rings" and Aikido' - 09-04-2003]

Speaking of fea[/quote] ...More Read More
Views: 560

In General Gaining Focus from Losing Focus Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #129 New 05-12-2004 08:33 PM
[Quote of the Day:
"If someone swings at you with a baseball bat and doesn't know what they're doing, you'll be okay, but if someone actually skilled with a sword ever comes at you, just run away!" --- Sensei Jon Hay's sage advice to us all after a class of primarily defenses from Bokken strikes.]

For the past couple of weeks, I've been making a habit of purposely training without wearing either my glasses (usually during weapons work) or my contact lenses (usually during all other, regular classes) with the reasoning that I need to learn how to defend myself in all situations, especially those in my "natural state" without the aid of corrective lenses. I figured that, now, over a year into my training, I can make this transition a lot easier --- it's certainly not something I would have tried a lot earlier on without at least some overall familiarity with techniques.

Of course, aside from the very practical advantages of not using corrective lenses on the mats (no obtrusive glasses to come flying off, no irritated or dry eyes from contacts, etc.) there just so happened to be other advantages to adapting that I had not originally, um...forseen (*chuckle*). For one, having slightly fuzzier vision forces you to concentrate even harder than usual on picking out details when Sensei demonstrates --- it's pretty much "blink, and you'll miss it". Another thing is that when it comes to weapons and other exercises that rely heavily on perfect timing, the disadvantage of bad eyesight tends to make you move a little faster than usual --- even if it is, I suppose, more out of a self-preservation instinct than anything else.

I only wish, however, that this latter aspect would manifest itself more during Randori. It seems that, much to my chagrin, my Randori/Jiyu-Waz[/quote] ...More Read More
Views: 1138

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