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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 11:53 PM
One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 272 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 500,480

In General Hiatus? Eek...just a few weeks to test time Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #97 New 01-27-2004 09:36 AM
Due to a death in the family, I'll be in the Philippines until February 13th...I'm bringing my Gi along just in case, but so far I haven't found (at least on the 'Net) a dojo in San Fernando, La Union (where my family is from) --- there's at least one in Baguio (an hour away) and loads in Manila (5 hours away) --- keeping my fingers crossed.

I guess I'm a little apprehensive about being away for so long; by the time I get back, it will only be another two weeks until the seminar in Saskatoon and my Gokkyu test...on the one hand, if I find a dojo, I can keep things up, right? It could also be a bit of catharsis (or perhaps even more, a kind of escapism), which I need right about now. On the other hand, depending on the school I find, what kind of bad habits might I pick up from them, pre-test? (After all, I've only been training for a little over a year --- not long enough, I suspect, to have developed many good habits...)

Sigh...maybe I'd better just stick to going through kata over and over in my head like always. I've printed off a list of the Gokkyu test requirements and have been using this to run through everything with my own imagination. In this, I've found that my own imagination is still not sufficient; there are still techniques that I have trouble picturing from start to finish --- I guess we could chalk this up to my lack of experience as well. I know Sensei recommended going through the kata physically on your own, but from my miserable attempts at ...More Read More
Views: 375

In General Breaking Bad Habits and Such Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #96 New 01-24-2004 12:30 PM
...technique-wise, that is.

Thursday night after Jo practice, we revisited Ushiro Ryotekubidori Ikkyo again. It was a nice opportunity to continue fine-tuning things, and as is always the case on such occasions, I learned about a few extra details that make things a little easier for myself --- such as:
- Sempai Jeremy drew my attention to arranging my hands during the initial sweep downwards and back into a similar position to that during Kokyudosa in order to make things more awkward for a taller uke (in this case, him)
- sliding backwards once uke's arm is in front of me
- getting my hip right into uke's side/armpit for better control while bringing him down and into the pin

Stuff re: the pin --- and all this time, I thought it was against the elbow! Poor uke...it's actually on the muscle just above it; when I do it correctly (rarely ) I feel like the side of my hand fits into a groove as I roll it forward.

Last night (Friday) was spent working on Shomenuchi Shihonage. I need to remember that the hand that torques uke's is the one that initially cuts his down.

I also have this bad habit of sliding back as I complete the turn into the throw (thus negating the effect of the tension on uke's arm that would typically take his centre). I got to work on this a lot, taking it in stages and going slowly --- but I still don't feel like it has made much progress. My ukes seemed to think it has, but I personally couldn't feel a difference.
Views: 353

In General Dive Rolls: A Conversation (of all things) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #95 New 01-21-2004 05:00 PM
I know this is a bit of a departure, particularly in format...but what the heck --- I'm too busy to change it right now! Maybe in future I'll have the time to condense this into an easy-to-reference point form, but for now...

I needed some tips on dive rolls, so I asked a friend of mine who was both a gymnast and a Rhythmic Gymnastics coach...thing is, last I was able to speak to her, it was on MSN.

Jamie says:
Hey Kelly
Jamie says:
You got a second?
KellyGirl says:
hi, i do
Jamie says:
You're just the person I wanted to ask something to...
Jamie says:
(bad English)
KellyGirl says:
sure thing, what's up
Jamie says:
When you were doing gymnastics, did you guys ever do any dive rolls?
KellyGirl says:
yeah, all the time
KellyGirl says:
(i'm so curious right now)
Jamie says:
Well, we do dive rolls in Aikido,
Jamie says:
and I'm fine with regular rolls, but being such a petite/short person,
Jamie says:
I guess I don't have much confidence w/the rolls where we dive over multiple people
Jamie says:
and was wondering if you might have any pointers for me
Jamie says:
Last night I did dive rolls over two crouching people side by side for the very first time
Jamie says:
and the landing was rather...bumpy, but I made it
KellyGirl says:
well, it's been a while but
Jamie says:
Most of the guys are taller, so they can do dive rolls over up to 4 people
Jamie says:
Next time, I'm going to try three, but I'm a little doubtful...
KellyGi ...More Read More
Views: 321

In General The Strangeness of Being...a Sempai Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #94 New 01-19-2004 11:19 PM
I know it's been a little over a year now, but the role-reversal still feels weird. After all, I've spent the vast majority of that year or so as a Kohai to most of the class. But tonight we just had Sempai Jim come out for Bokken practice, and then afterwards it was just me, Dave, Ken, and the two new students for Tae Sabaki.

Thankfully, the three of us "substitute Sempais for the night" were made to alternate as Sensei's demonstration uke. I think he caught on after the first time I was uke for him tonight that I am still not used to having to learn a technique solely from that perspective yet...and to think, just a year ago, I used to wonder why my own Sempais would stand there for a minute thinking, "Now what do I do?" after being Sensei's demonstration uke.

I realize now just how spoiled I was. Being a Kohai was so easy...all I had to do was just what I wanted: to concentrate on my own learning. There were no real expectations of you other than that you tried your best (and didn't hurt anyone in the process). You didn't have to really watch over anyone else's learning or --- as I'm finding myself --- worry about doing something correctly so that you can be a good example.

Tonight, for the very first time since --- well, NEVER, in my whole year here, Sensei told me to relax. And I am *always* relaxed. I'm usually relaxed to a fault (ie. limp ukemi, or being a very casual attacker as uke). But tonight, for just a little bit, I was actually a lit ...More Read More
Views: 415 | Comments: 2

In General A New Technique, A New Technique! Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #93 New 01-17-2004 01:15 PM
Well, new to me at least. Yippee! Ahem --- I mean, how nice. I know most folks around my level would be thinking, "nice to what? Feel even more uncoordinated than usual?" --- but I don't know, I just feel like new techniques to me are this breath of fresh air once in a while, something to make the complacent mind have to think in a different way instead of go into Autopilot...that sort of feeling. Laugh if you will. It makes perfect sense to *me*.

We learned (er, rather, started learning, hehehe) Katatedori Hijinage (sp?), which reminded me a lot of Kaitennage. It's the kind of technique that you can tell is supposed to be nicely leading and circular --- if only I could get it to be as nicely leading and circular as I can imagine it to be...my best guess is that maybe I'm relying too much on how it looks (whether or not it looks circular) and not enough on how it actually feels.

We also practiced Ushiro Rytekubidori Ikkyo (another interesting coincidence, or do I have an angel looking out for me? *chuckle* ), thanks very much! Now I actually know which way to step initially --- well, it's based on the premise that your uke mimics your stance. When he doesn't, things get rather...awkward, as I soon found out. When it comes to more resistant ukes, I was also told that I can lean into him to get control of his elbow before gaining control of his hand with my other hand --- also very helpful.

Which reminds me, speaking of leaning, I'm still weighing the ...More Read More
Views: 340

In General A Mind-Blending Exercise? :-) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #92 New 01-14-2004 11:03 PM
Also known as: Going from frustration to...innovation

Well, I can't complain --- tonight we coincidentally (or perhaps not) got to work on a couple of things that were on my little list of things to improve for the Gokkyu test, specifically:
Shomenuchi Sankyo (Suwari Waza) and
Shomenuchi Shihonage

The Sankyo hand change is starting to feel smoother and less awkward, yay!

I still can't believe that I forgot how to do Shomenuchi Shihonage --- I guess it had been some time since we got to practice it. Little things to fine-tune include anticipating uke's fall forward and throwing not only down, but outwards at the same time so that I don't end up thrown forward and off balance like...ahem...usual. Also, finding that I don't have to really swing out with uke's arm on the ura version seemed to help quite a bit as well.

We have a couple of new students, and as one of them is quite naturally strong, he has a tendency to physically resist technique (not surprisingly, both of them do --- despite repeated attempts by Sensei to get them to attack with their whole centre instead of just...standing there). Well, I was speaking to one of my Sempais, and he expressed some frustration at the difficulty in trying to practice techniques with one of them; naturally, being a smaller person, I also would find the same frustration on occasion, but as of tonight I realized something quite interesting that I ended up telling him about after class was over.

I found that a ...More Read More
Views: 260

In General A Mini-Milestone...of Sorts Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #90 New 01-10-2004 02:06 AM
Well, a year ago yesterday marked my first day with this dojo, and tonight I had my first in-house run through of the Gokkyu test requirements.

Since it was just me, Sensei, and Sempai Tim (who was my uke) we ran through the whole thing semi-formally and for some reason I was actually a little nervous at first. I guess it was enough to throw me off initially, because I flubbed up on the very first technique by letting Tim smack me in the head --- I was expecting him to come at me Shomenuchi with his other hand! Sigh...I think it must be Karma catching up with me [see entry: "Oh the Violence of it All :-D" 11-20-2003].

Thankfully the rest wasn't all that bad, and Sensei said that my test would be considered a pass ("not a spectacular pass, mind you, but a pass"). Despite this, one thing that I can be somewhat happy about is that he thought that I had a speed and flow beyond Gokkyu that he says Kawahara shihan will appreciate. Okay, yay for me. Now that that's said and done...

There were a couple of things that we hadn't done in awhile that obviously needed more work. I need to improve my:
Katatedori Koshinage (no big surprise there)
- I'm stepping in too deeply --- my foot should be no further than the inside of his lead foot
- my hips should be in right against uke's
- I should constantly be looking at my lead hand prior to the throw, which should be up and parallel with my body (not at an angle from it in front)


Ushiro Ryotekubidori Ikkyo,
- I need to bring my hands right into my centre ...More Read More
Views: 320

In General Sorting Things Out (but what else is new?) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #89 New 01-07-2004 01:10 PM
Last night, we started by working on Shomenuchi Nikkyo (Suwari Waza), and I made a conscious effort to drop my centre while leaning towards uke's centre during Nikkyo; though I still need to remember to do the "snakebite" thing with my hands (for lack of a better explanation --- heck, *I* know what I mean, so good enough! )

My Sempais worked on Tsuki Kaitenage for most of the night (I think my ukemi is getting better for this, though as one Sempai advised, I still need to shift my weight forward into the roll out instead of stepping forward with my rear leg --- doing the latter seems to throw things off for him). In the meantime, I worked on Shomenuchi Kotegaeshi. Apparently, it is "test ready" --- well, according to Sensei it is, although I still need to fine tune it some more. Namely:
- remembering that the atemi isn't really necessary unless uke stops
- Kotegaeshi itself, the "waterfall" motion in an arc; dropping my centre in a movement that turns away from uke while keeping my arms straight and not using my wrists so much
- making sure that uke's shoulder is down on the mat and his elbow is controlled prior to the pin
...in other words, it may look "test ready", but in reality, it needs a heck of a lot more work!

We finished things off with one of the Shomenuchi Kokyunages, and Sensei told me and my Sempais that we should be ready to test at the next seminar (either February in Saskatoon, or in May) and that we should gear our training from now on w ...More Read More
Views: 367

In General Looking Back Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #87 New 01-05-2004 11:46 PM
[Please bear with me while I ramble on incoherently for a bit. I often like to think that it helps with where you're going to look back and remember where you've been...]

I'm not normally one to get particularly sentimental over such things, but rather pensive instead. This month brings a couple of "anniversaries" to mind: one that marks my first complete year of Aikido training (as well as when I first started with this current dojo), and one that marks the month I last stopped (back in January of 2000). Both significant to me. Both had to happen. I think looking back helps put things into perspective.

I was going through some of my old writings from four years ago, trying piece together memories of the person who I was when I first started Aikido. You never really remember all of the details. It's the feelings that stand out the most.

I remember falling in love with Aikido, with the graceful, dance-like movements, and particularly with the philosophy behind it. I had just switched my undergrad major over to Philosophy, and everything just seemed to finally cohere with the path I was taking. I remember being the only female student (nothing new there, considering I still am, only in a different place). I remember eventually becoming the only student. But I didn't care that I was alone, I was just really eager to learn.

My first teacher was very enigmatic, very formal, and very serious. He never smiled on the mats, and neither did his senior student, who would occasionally come by to help him teach. Initially, I remember appropriating this and being all serious on the mats when I first started with my current dojo ...More Read More
Views: 371

In General Training in Toronto: Overall Impressions and Thou Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #85 New 01-01-2004 09:38 PM
[First of all, let me begin by saying that for all intents and purposes, I will only give an account here of my experiences from my perspective as a student, insofar as how these affected my own learning. Though I have been asked to do so, I do not believe that any generalized or comparative assessment that I might make of a teacher's Aikido technique in itself can truly be considered reliable since I am simply not at a level of ability or knowledge in this art to do this with sufficient discernment. This said, it is for this reason that I will only go so far as to compare teaching styles and methods at this time in the hopes that even though I will disappoint some, I might be of help to others. ]

Initially, I found myself experiencing a bit of apprehension upon going into two new schools as a visitor; you could almost call it performance anxiety to a certain extent --- a slight worry that I might really slip up big-time, make a stupid mistake and embarrass my home dojo. When I thought of it this way, I felt like I ought to make a really good impression, as if I were representing my school in a sense. Thankfully, folks were so welcoming that it would help put me right at ease.

Once on the mats, adaptations had to be made right away...literally. At both schools, they had the thinner, more dense kind of foam mats, and having trained on ones twice as thick at the home dojo for so long I naturally had no idea how drastic the difference would be. From my very first roll, I could feel that I would have to make a great many adjustments --- the "bumpiness" of my rolling became quite apparent --- the mats certainly weren't as forgiving as the softer ones from the home dojo. But then, I also realize that considering we do so much more breakfalling and ukemi practice in general at our dojo than they seem to do at the others, having the softer mats at ours definitely makes sense. Oh, which reminds me --- although my rolling didn't feel up to par initially, I guess my breakfalling must have been alright because I got complimented on it quite a bit (should make my Sensei proud ).

I guess it would be nice to have even just a strip of the harder kind of mat ...More Read More
Views: 265

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