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08-06-2009 08:58 PM
It's that time of year again. But I don't think it ever got quite this bad back when we had our own permanent dojo space. Summer really sucks the life out of training, or so it would seem...moreso these days.
It hasn't helped that for a large part of the late spring-early summer I found myself suffering from a number of symptoms of overtraining: headaches, insomnia, decreased immunity, even a decrease in enthusiasm for training (if that can be believed). It ended up being a vicious cycle, really, that I'm now certain was caused by lack of sleep and trying to maintain a demanding training regimen without enough recovery time. But I digress.
Since this post is primarily a rant I will at the very least take the time to say a couple of positive observations about training lately, which is that I've been transitioning more and more from learning technique primarily through seeing towards understanding the principles behind it by learning through feeling. I know it sounds really wishy-washy and esoteric, but it has to do with feeling the energy of an attack and understanding where it's going (thereby knowing what to do with it). It's meant that I've been doing a lot more to catch timing and blend - but making a point of moving with an attack earlier on that I originally would have...as a result the connections have been feeling much smoother. Being Sensei's primary demo uke over the summer while others have been away has meant that in a way I've had n
Ikkyu - A Retrospective
04-04-2009 12:14 PM
Yes, I've procrastinated on writing this one. I just wasn't looking forward to doing all the stats tallying, but it's finally done. Enjoy!
Things learned since Nikkyu...
About movement and the art:
- The power of Kiai and its connection to Kokyu and Hara
- Proper alignment makes technique feel smooth and almost effortless
- Under pressure and with intense focus or "Mushin", the body can act (with seeming independence) to perform technique out of pure instinct due to practice/repetition
- The importance of visualization
- I've finally come to see my size more for its potential advantages and am noticing creative ways to adapt more often than I used to
- I get into this "zone" when I test and sometimes even when I'm attacking in Jiyu Waza. So much so, that I can even forget who I'm supposed to be attacking. :-D
- I really overthink things, but thankfully this happens more after-the-fact and not in the moments where decisiveness counts
- I have a strong sense of club pride that has been passed down to me from my own Sempai and while I hope to pass some of that on to the junior students, I'm now more conscious than ever of its impact on the energy of practice and the dynamics in the dojo
- I have had no new joint injuries over the past two years since my last rank and am convinced that this is due to resistance training and conditioning with weights
- The nutritional choices I've made for before and during seminars have h
| Comments: 1
Ah, Ikkyu: that Cruel Mistress
03-27-2009 11:08 PM
A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP
So much for getting lots of sleep before last weekend's seminar.
In between preparing homemade deer jerky for the drive, Thursday night was spent going over Jodori and Tachidori as well as a couple of things that were still rather hazy in my memory. I was tired, cranky, utterly frustrated with myself and looking back on it I exhibited almost all the signs of overtraining. I didn't get to bed until 2AM. During the long drive out on Friday, I did get to sleep in fits and spurts in the car but mostly in between a great deal of visualizing - sitting there with the test and my notes in my lap, running through each technique in my mind and particularly going over in succession (without referring to my notes) all of the sets of technique that I would have to independently determine and call out (ie. the "any 5" sets, Henka Waza, Kaeshi Waza and all the weapons work).
We got into Saskatoon on Friday evening, I carb-loaded with a pasta dinner and after a bit of socializing with our billet host, settled in for the night in their basement with some mats and sleeping bags generously loaned to us and thought nothing of it. I stayed up a little to do a bit more visualizing and lay down to sleep. Or so I thought I would. Now it used to be that as recently as in my twenties I could sleep pretty much anywhere and have a great night's rest. I could sleep on a floor. I could sleep curled up in an armchair in a strange position. It didn't really matter. I
| Comments: 3
Pre-Shodan Periodization Training Notes
03-27-2009 01:47 PM
EVALUATION NOTES - Current Strengths & Weaknesses (from greatest to weakest)
- good form
- smoothness of movement on techniques I know well
- stability at the end of throws (though still need to eliminate "hopping" to maintain balance/need to lower more)
- timing on certain techniques (mostly Ikkyo's beginning and Koshinage's middle part)
- centre sometimes lifting up on upward-movements
FROM PREVIOUS MACROCYCLE (leading up to Ikkyu test seminar)
Competitive Microcycle: 1 WEEK (March 16-20, 2009)
- Rest break from all conditioning
- Continued test-specific training, run-throughs
- Addition of technique visualization
MACROCYCLE: 52 WEEKS (starting March 23, 2009)
MESOCYCLE 1 - TRANSITION PERIOD (post-Ikkyu test seminar): 2 WEEKS, 1-2
- Week 1 (Restorative Microcyle): Rest break from all but Aikido (with break from specific test technique practice)
- Week 2: Return to adding Kettlebell training to above; addition of stability/rooting exercises on off-days
MESOCYCLE 2 - BASE MESOCYCLE: 8 WEEKS (April 6 - May 29, 2009), 3-10
- Continue Kettlebell training 3x/week and add heavy bag work/striking practice (gradually transition back to heavier weight training regimen during last 3-4 weeks)
- Return to HIIT sprinting on off-days and add sport-specific exercises, some with or without Medicine Ball (ie. Additional variations of squats, stability/rooting exercises, Med Bal
| Comments: 2
March 20-21st Saskatoon Seminar
03-23-2009 11:21 PM
What a long weekend. Boy, do I feel bagged. Two seminar days aside, it doesn't help that we got so very little sleep on Thursday and Friday night; we also encountered some really thick fog on the way back home last night that kept me wide awake as Jon's second set of eyes on the road in the dark, so most of the drive was spent warily alert when I could have been sleeping. :-P We got back into the city around 1 last night and although I didn't have to work today and slept in, I could still use some shuteye. I'm surprised we weren't all absolutely kooky during class tonight.
Kawahara Sensei seems to be doing better with his health, from the looks of things - at the very least he was certainly in good spirits. Although a translator was not present at this particular seminar, I actually found Sensei relatively easier to understand - I think that he made a point of trying to state very clearly (or as clearly as possible) what we should and shouldn't be doing and even went so far as to try to break down techniques into steps, counting in Japanese as he moved through them.
In a way, I think that in not having as much verbal instruction, one is able to concentrate far more on the visual information they are receiving. Case in point, I took an American Sign Language (ASL) immersion course some time ago where you could only sign (or even just fingerspell) to communicate - you weren't allowed to talk. In spite of this, a number of the other students still tried to whisp
My Pride VS The Dojo Curse
03-19-2009 02:34 PM
To test or not to test, that is the question.
THE MOCK TEST
Last night, Sensei ran me through my mock Ikkyo test. The only things we didn't go over were the optional weapons portion (ie. tanto/tachi/jo-dori).
Feedback from Sensei ranged from specific...
- on Yokomenuchi Kaitennage (ura), making this more distinct from omote by cutting uke's arm more away from his centre (I need to remember to grab uke's sleeve to do this well)
- needing to perform Ushiro Ryotedori Koshinage "Ikkyo"-style (arching up uke's arm)
...to general - from big things:
- really needing better extension throughout all Koshinage
...to little things:
- throwing out more (not so much down) on Iriminage
- keeping a wider base before the throw on Shihonage (instead of this nasty habit I've picked up of bringing my feet together just after the last pivot before it)
The verdict from Sensei was that it was a competent test that, had I performed it for Kawahara Sensei the same way (even with the few bumpy bits), it would definitely have been a pass. The thing is, I've never been one to be satisfied with just a pass.
While I was pleased at how much I was actually able to recall (memorizing my lists and doing a lot of visualization beforehand really helped), I still don't feel like the test was as "solid" as I would have liked. I don't know if I can really help the standard I've set for myself. Up to this point, every test I've done has been smooth - no "brain farts",
| Comments: 3
One week to the seminar!
03-13-2009 04:04 PM
Just a scant four more classes, including tonight, until our impending doom - I mean, test. How ready am I? Tough to say. Sensei seems to think so. And our dojo has a policy of not letting you test until you are beyond ready.
We drive out next Friday.
Personally? Well...I feel like:
- my body is well-conditioned
- I have a great nutritional plan (though the foodie in me is absolutely sick of slow cooker turkey and baked salmon and fully intends to celebrate with sushi after all is said and done) - I start the pre-event Creatine tomorrow and intend to carb-load the night before the seminar
- my asthma is under control (and now very little is left of the nagging cough and chest congestion from that cold from weeks ago)
- my post-workout recovery could be better but I'm also planning on increasing my sleep next week
The only thing that remains is to have confidence. That, and run through:
- Hanmi-handachi Ushiro-waza (any 5 techniques)
- 5 Kokyunage (any attacks)
What I really want to do is run through the whole darn thing from start to bitter end to get a feel for the thing, well, as a whole. That would make me feel much better - at least in better knowing the gaps in my memory.
Of course, whether Jeremy and I even test all depends on The Man. Kawahara Shihan will watch us like a hawk during the seminar and determine from what he sees if he wants us to test for Ikkyu there. In other words, I will have to be prepared to practice techn
Sports Periodization and Ikkyu Prep Update
02-15-2009 02:59 PM
I may have mentioned it in the past, but after some research, I've been dabbling in applying sports periodization theory to both preparing for Ikkyu and eventually for Shodan. We just found out that the Saskatoon Spring Seminar is scheduled for the weekend of March 21st and that in mind, I'm now able to revisit my strategies and be more specific about the latter phases leading up to the test.
Macrocycle #1 (Ikkyu Preparation) Summary
38 weeks, November 2007 to September 2008 (4 weeks off in Summer)
- regular training, both general and specific
- primarily resistance training (no HIIT yet)
19 weeks, September 2008 to February 13, 2009
- regular training, some general: increased focus on specific test techniques
- resistance training with addition of HIIT
4 weeks, now until March 13, 2009
- increase intensity (sole focus on specific training; a return to my alternate, heavier-load resistance training regimen; additional HIIT; addition of plyometrics)
- more frequent test run-throughs from start to finish
- videotaping of test run-throughs for evaluation
- meal/nutritional planning focus on high GI foods
1 week, March 13th to 20th, 2009
- restoration/taper down period pre-seminar
- return to kettlebell conditioning regimen and less HIIT
- continue specific training and test run-throughs
- continued nutritional focus on high GI foods
Students of White Oak and Hickory
01-29-2009 11:32 AM
I never thought I'd be saying this, but...I really miss weapons practice. In the old dojo, we had the opportunity to do this twice a week (one day for bokken, one day for jo). I suppose it's one of those instances where "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone". Though I'd always enjoyed the feel of both sword and staff movements, there was a great part of me that I eventually found grudgingly practicing the sword --- the staff was so much more versatile, after all and the movements could readily be adapted towards a real-world improvised weapon. And you know I'm all about the real-world scenarios.
Yet over the past year or so that we've been at the new venue, we've practiced with weapons less and less. Initially we only had access to the upstairs gym (with high ceilings) once a week so we alternated back and forth between bokken and jo practice. Now that we no longer have access to the upstairs and are exclusively downstairs where the ceiling is fairly low, we haven't been doing weapons work at all for the past few months.
As a result, I'm seeing a difference in the group of newbies that has come through the dojo lately. I'm now convinced that within the group of new students who have done little to no weapons practice, we're "raising a generation" of Aikidoka who:
- don't know how to kiai (and thus find it more difficult to generate power through their kokyu/breath --- you're forced to do this all the time in weapons striking and I'm certain that
Conditioning for Aikido: Kettlebells!
01-10-2009 01:54 PM
I just updated my Strength/Conditioning post to reflect that after some research, I started incorporating Kettlebell exercises into my regimen back in December and thought it might be helpful to elaborate on this decision a bit. One of the "selling features" of Kettlebells has always been the claim that more than traditional weight exercises (ie. using machines), Kettlebell exercises offer "real world" increases in strength by engaging your whole body and working groups of muscles instead of isolating muscles like some machines do. It is because of this that many personal trainers have advocated the use of Kettlebells in the conditioning regimens of martial artists. So what have I found?
Not only have I been finding workouts with Kettlebells more convenient given the demands of my workplace this time of year (I do my Kettlebell workouts at home first thing in the morning before heading off to work) but almost immediately, I have found the exercises translating into improvements in my performance of Aikido technique. I believe that because many Kettlebell exercises rely upon engaging your whole body from your core on up (and only then, secondarily through the arms), I'm finding more and more that habitually using my center to initiate movement against this kind of resistance in my conditioning regimen, I am in turn doing this more and more in Aikido as well.
Within just a couple of weeks of starting these exercises, I started feeling a greater connection with my c
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