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Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > AikiWeb AikiBlogs > Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai

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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: 543,767

One of your Favorites! In General Mostly Armless Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #128 New 05-05-2004 09:42 AM
Those of you who've read the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series will get the pun (and not just the double entendre).

A couple of interesting experiences to note on this very-oddly strung together theme:

On Monday, we did an evasion form of Randori whereby we weren't allowed to use our hands or arms to deflect attacks (in this case, Shomenuchi) but had to avoid getting hit anyway. Needless to say, due to the speed of attacks (since you're not throwing, there's hardly a pause in between them) it was very easy to get cornered by two ukes and we all found it quite difficult --- even Sensei got hit a couple of times during one round. I guess even monkey's fall from trees...

My first round wasn't so bad, but the second was rather miserable --- my ukes were both newbies and weren't realistically following through on their strikes with their whole bodies/centres (which would have made it easier to evade) so I ended up pathetically running around the mats as they chased me. It's amazing how much of a difference one little atemi for distraction can make! But enough excuses. The big challenge for me was in the time I had to make by waiting for one uke to strike, the other would cut off my best (widest) route of evasion, resulting in my having to squeeze through between them. Next time, I really ought to practice evading sideways at an acute angle to my ukes more, la Sensei-style.

Last night, I took a (long-awaited) beginner's workshop in Japanese ...More Read More
Views: 1908 | Comments: 2

In General Back into Randori --- with a Vengeance ;-) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #127 New 04-29-2004 11:37 AM
It was nice to get back into this after a long hiatus --- I swear, I was suffering from withdrawal! We had temporarily suspended doing Randori on Tuesdays to concentrate on test preparations, but it's been long since then, and now Sensei is wanting us to go back to doing it more often (yay!)

The only (temporary, or so I'd hope :P ) downside to this was that we had a couple of newbies who had never done Randori before, and despite Sensei's encouragements to slow things down in order to concentrate on technique, I think they got a little too carried away with the "fight or flight" survival mode feeling of it all and as a result of not being relaxed, things turned out more into a shoving match, which for myself, is not what I was wanting to do. I was very much looking forward to being able to practice blending from the genuine momentum that ukes generally give during Randori (yes, I really, really missed it); the techniques we were working on at the time were, after all, Ryokatadori Kokyunage.

Unfortunately, I just so happened to have the great misfortune of (by chance) getting cycled through with what Sensei later called the three hardest ukes I could ever get. The first couple of rounds were alright, and I felt like I compensated pretty decently --- often I would get little energy from uke and would have to drop down to one knee very quickly at the end of the throw to bring them down --- apparently it became rather entertaining for Sensei and the other guys, partic ...More Read More
Views: 674

In General Budo as Escapism, Revisited Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #126 New 04-27-2004 02:52 PM
Not that I want to freak people out or anything, but...

I spent lunch alone today to get away from the office and while at turns eating and ruminating, it occurred to me how absolutely numb I feel throughout the workday. Don't get me wrong, I don't go about in a daze or anything, nor am I completely unemotional --- I do my job and interact with folks genuinely and with awareness. It's just that as I sat there, I was getting this feeling --- one that I've had in the past as well --- kind of like everything that happens during the workday is a dream. The more I thought about it, the politics of it, the protocols, the bureaucratic nonsense and the stoic masks people wear to play the game don't seem to be real at all. I've compartmentalized my feelings about work so much that whatever idealistic notions I had coming into it have been shoved aside and boxed in by my own cynicism.

It's not until I get into the dojo and onto the mats that things become real. I mean, the sweat and exertion is real, the pain is real. They remind me that I'm alive. And I in turn strongly exert the proof of my own existence with my own Toushi, my martial spirit. I'll bow in, focus, and nothing else outside those walls matters. All I can say is thank God for this part of my life, and the ability to challenge my limits and express my own spirit in this way. In addition, Aikido's philosophy of blending has served me well in being able to deal with those people at work who hurt others, an ...More Read More
Views: 855 | Comments: 5

In General Extending From the Inside-Out Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #125 New 04-27-2004 12:02 AM
I've been realizing in retrospect (in thinking about yesterday afternoon's Jo and tonight's Bokken practice) that when it comes to weapons work, I've started making a habit of really applying this principle --- and not just physically either. Looking back, I notice that I've become of an assertive and martial mindset when practicing with the Bokken and Jo that I have not yet applied to my empty-hand practice. These days, I tend to extend my weapon more strongly outwards, keep a more solid stance, and am willing to impose a (safer) distance with my weapon between me and uke whereas I used to collapse it against my body more often than not.

This has become quite evident not only in my kiai and breathing during strikes, but in kata --- for although I've been asserting myself martially, I've also become more relaxed and less self-conscious about the space I take up (especially when it comes to the latter). I still maintain a conscious effort to be aware of the space between me and others while I practice, but I've become more confident in knowing how close is "too close" and how far is sufficient for complete extension. That nasty step number seven of the Eight Directions kata that for the longest time I felt I just wasn't getting has finally become a lot less nasty as of tonight because of this --- it's actually starting to feel very smooth, and consistently so. [See past journal entry: "Getting tired of the details..." 11-04-2003]

Now, to apply this to empty-hand! (Just not the way I did tonight by extending right through --- and t ...More Read More
Views: 457

In General Aikikai/Iwama Gasshuku - Day Two of Two Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #124 New 04-25-2004 03:26 PM
There were about half as many of us on the mats today, which was kind of nice in that there was more room to practice in, if not as much variety in partners.

Niomba Sensei taught for the morning this time, starting with a softer version of yesterday's rolling warmup and tobu ukemi, but including some dynamic/continuous leg stretches and some practice for faster breakfalls which I had never done before but was quite fun (all that spinning around horizontally).

This morning, we worked mostly on techniques from Morotaedori --- a couple of kinds of Kokyuho as well as some enjoyable Kaeshi Waza from Morotaedori Shihonage that culminated in a Judo/Jiujutsu-like throw. We also did some techniques from Ushiro, such as a defense from having both arms grabbed, and a "Full Nelson". The morning was capped off with a closed-fisted version of Kokyudosa, which took some getting used to after being taught so much to always keep ones hands open and fingers extended.

As always, the most interesting techniques to practice were those which need a great deal of blending with uke's energy from the get-go (as challenging as this may be for me at times) --- while we were practicing one of the Morotaedori Kokyuho techniques, for example, Sempai Jeremy shared with me a kind of "Aha" moment upon realizing that our movements serve to flow with uke's downward pressure on our wrist. Granted, I was having some difficulty applying this for myself (particularly getting under uke's elbow), but it ...More Read More
Views: 776

In General Aikikai/Iwama Gasshuku - Day One of Two Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #123 New 04-24-2004 09:50 PM
The first morning of the weekend workshop was taught by our Sensei (Jon Hay), started things off with a rolling warmup that we've done in the past. Techniques we worked on included: Katadori Kokyuho, Kaeshi Waza from Katadori Nikkyo, Yokomenuchi Shihonage and Kousadori Nikkyo, ending things with the usual Kokyudosa. Although they were mostly familiar techniques, having the opportunity to work on them with a wider variety of training partners than usual --- adapting to their various body-types and energies is always an enjoyable (and sometimes even rewarding ) challenge. At the very least, "failure" brings to light areas for me which require more practice and/or an alternate tactic.

In the afternoon, Oto Niomba (sp?) Sensei led class with some Aiki-Ken basics and exchanges. This was an interesting new experience for those of us from my clan --- especially getting used to having to pick up our feet after having been so used to sliding our feet around though I personally found the extra activity fun to do. There was a lot of learning to adapt to the different details in sword motions, but it was just as interesting to learn the basic concepts behind them (such as "drawing in" the opponents strike --- which was essentially a form of blending in retreat); it was initially a little tough to (albeit temporarily) break the habit of extending forward to actually ensure that your strike would connect and replace this with sword movements that are more subtle, but after a ...More Read More
Views: 347

In General Finding My Yonkyo Again (A Dr. Jekkyl & Mr. Hyde k Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #122 New 04-23-2004 06:24 AM
A Positive Note:
We did dive rolls for the warmup and I was (thanks to my ex-gymnast friend's advice --- see: 01-21-2004 entry, "Dive Rolls: A Conversation (of all things)" ) able to make it over two people comfortably for once --- yay me! Next stop, three...

A Not-So Positive Note:
Sigh...while doing Shomenuchi Yonkyo in Suwari Waza with Sempai Jim --- I actually found it awkward, which surprised me. And not in the nice kind of way. Am I just out of practice, or am I holding back again (see: 12-03-2003 entry, "Hi. My name is Jamie, and I'm an...Overly-Sensitive Nage?" )? Or is it a little bit of both? Grr! This old thing again! Sometimes I wish I could just go all-out and practice with full confidence, speed and extension without the worry of hurting someone else. But then I suppose that just wouldn't be me. On the other hand, I'm left constantly wondering whether or not I'm suppressing my full potential...am I really doing the best that I possibly can? Am I so worried about Uke that I'm being overly-sensitive at the expense of my own development?

A (Relatively) Neutral Note:
re: Ushiro Ryotekubidori Kaiten-Iriminage - I need to make going into the Iriminage part (from the initial turn) flow better. I'm stopping at this part too much.
Views: 406

In General "Assembly-line" Tae Sabaki Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #121 New 04-19-2004 10:03 PM
After tonight's Bokken practice (the usual kata and building on exchanges), we worked on a variety of body movements from mune-tsuki, shomen-tsuki and katadori, respectively.

Later on, we all took turns filing through a six-person line (!) and being attacked in these three ways in quick succession, which was quite fun (when things ran smoothly). Unfortunately, it was a rather convoluted way of running through a line and as a result tended to be confusing to some folks at times --- particularly in having to switch roles so often. This said, I'm surprised that I was able to keep up as well as I did.

When things worked out, however, it was really nice --- I liked the flow of going from moving in response to one attack to another. It was a good opportunity to apply what we were practicing, as well as reflexes and timing, not to mention the closest we've come to doing Randori in some time. I swear, I'm suffering Randori withdrawal, big time.

On a side note, I really like the new layout here! It's nice to be able to view more on a page at a glance, especially with the main journals page.
Views: 745

In General Excuses, Excuses Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #120 New 04-15-2004 10:54 PM
After Jo practice tonight (mostly 31 step kata, and some exchanges) we worked on:
- Katadori Kokyunage (?) in Suwari Waza (I don't need to duck that much, just enough to get my head under uke's arm, and then simply lean back)
- Mostly defenses from kicking for the rest of the class (a kind of ankle nikkyo from a roundhouse kick, a shove from a crescent kick/back kick combo, ankle Yonkyo ---yowch!--- from a front/snap kick, and a block/counter-kick combo from a roundhouse to the head)

The most obvious thing I found that I need to work on would be timing and body positioning, particularly from the crescent kick/back kick combo; for some reason, I was having difficulty in this area tonight although I could have sworn we've worked on this in the past and I didn't find as much trouble back then...sigh...easy come, easy go, I suppose. We don't practice these techniques very often.

One thing I have absolutely no excuse for is my own lack of practice in kicking. I just haven't been able to find the time to put it back into my regular habits lately (lack of space in this cramped apartment aside --- but I promised, no excuses...) and it's obvious that I need to. I've got some basic kicking knowledge from the old childhood Sikaran days, and a decent balance, so I'd might as well build on it.

It's been a measly two day Aikido week for me too (due mostly to work commitments)...hopefully, it won't be a typical thing. I swear, I'd go into withdrawal! I think I already am... ...More Read More
Views: 366

In General Scattered Notes (but hopefully, not scattered thou Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #119 New 04-09-2004 01:26 AM
Hopefully for future elaborations (if I ever finally find more time!) We've been doing a fair amount of new techniques (well, for me) lately...

- started with Ushiro Ryotekubidori Jiyujinage (Suwari Waza); need to lean back at same time as push forward and also push forward and to the side more than upwards
- a variety of Kokyunage from Ushiro attacks (one-handed grab to the collar --- Japanese name unknown): a couple of Kokyunages, another, very Judo-like throw that starts very much like Ushiro ukemi but ends with a rocking motion and a kick as you throw uke back over you
Technique generalities/principles to remember:
- mostly moving at an arc to the side instead of straight back
- leaning forward with whole body to stretch uke out
- sinking hips during the turns into throws helps
- need to push harder

- Shomenuchi Sankyo (Suwari Waza)
- a variety of techniques from Shomenuchi attack with an opening of moving to an outside block: one that goes down like a Nikkyo Osae, another that goes into Yonkyo, and a Kokyunage (remember to sink down while using hips; it's more of a sideways torque on the arm)
Views: 527

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