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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
jducusin
Offline
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One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 272 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 282,248

In Weapons Students of White Oak and Hickory Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #241 New 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 ...More Read More
Views: 835


In Miscellaneous Conditioning for Aikido: Kettlebells! Entry Tools Rating: 5 Stars!
  #240 New 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 ...More Read More
Views: 2100


In Humor A Shameless Plug :-D Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #239 New 01-10-2009 12:25 PM
Just because I had so much fun putting these together as a (belated) Christmas gift for my fellow dojo mates, I can't help but share them here on AikiWeb as well.

"That's Why We Practice": Aikido Bloopers
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrylhtH3tjE

"Mat-thumping!": Ukemi Video
http://www.veoh.com/videos/v17165363ak7j9naH

*chuckles*

Not to worry, I'll be posting another serious entry again soon.
Views: 705


In General Moving Beyond Kihon Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #238 New 11-15-2008 02:09 AM
Takumusu Aiki: 武産合気 - A "slogan" of the founder's meaning "infinitely generative martial art of aiki." Thus, a synonym for aikido. The scope of aikido is not limited only to the standard, named techniques one studies regularly in practice. Rather, these standard techniques serve as repositories of more fundamental principles (kihon). Once one has internalized the kihon, it is possible to generate a virtually infinite variety of new aikido techniques in accordance with novel conditions. (Definition is courtesy of AikiWeb's wonderfully comprehensive Wiki :-)

---

I like to think that --- thanks to muscle memory and a great deal of persistence --- much of the fundamental principles of any art become internalized over time via the dogged repetition of action and technique. As with many things, it certainly sounds simple enough. When asked by Sensei at the end of class if they had any questions, my past sempai years ago would often say, "More practice, Sensei!" It became a kind of mantra (along with "This ain't knitting class" and "Suck it up").

How true it is. Yet when asked by Sensei at the end of class, "Any questions?" my own oft-repeated response now as a senior student myself is usually, "Always, Sensei." No matter how much you practice, they're always there.

While we all know that most people learn by doing and there is more value to be gained on the mats from action rather than words (ie. "Less chatter, more splatter" a ...More Read More
Views: 1059


In Teaching On Teaching My First Class Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #237 New 09-18-2008 12:32 AM
How odd it feels to be writing this post. The title seems so surreal to me. I've been doing Aikido for almost seven years ago now, began keeping this blog in 2003 and after revisiting the old posts, realize just how quickly the time has gone by. I've spent so much time ruminating and critically picking apart my own study of this art that over the years it has rarely occurred to me to view myself in anything BUT a student's role. Yet for the very first time last night, I found myself as the teacher. Such a strange and foreign feeling.

I never really wanted to be the teacher, after all. Seeing how my own Sensei had become an instructor out of compulsion and necessity, hearing how he'd often regret not being able to practice as he would have liked --- when push came to shove, this honestly rather put me off the whole teaching thing for the most part. I figured that I would just get in the way of my training. I wanted to be a student forever --- to continually siphon off the knowledge and instruction of others and let someone else bother with how everyone else was learning. I'd told as much to Sensei. He'd occasionally "test" me and the other sempai out, letting us each have a taste of teaching by demonstrating a particular technique to the rest of the class. Unsure of myself and my own ability, fearful lest I portray a confidence not yet earned, I would qualify everything I said: "Well, as you know, Sensei would do this or say that, etc." and look over my should ...More Read More
Views: 1493 | Comments: 2


In Training The Heat is On Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #236 New 09-16-2008 11:16 PM
Without a doubt, training for 1st kyu has been the most frustrating, challenging experience of my Aikido life thus far.

It used to be that I was simply pissed off at certain techniques. Those of you who have followed this blog from its tadpole-ish beginnings (before I even turned 5th kyu) will remember well. Koshinage was once the bane of my existence. Then came along Aiki Otoshi. In essence, anything that involved me having to heft and --- for more than a nanosecond --- support the weight of anyone more than my size (which is pretty much everyone) was...let's just say: not pleasant.

But bygones are bygones. Now I have a new nemesis. There is a huge elephant in the room. His name is Ikkyu and he wears a brown belt. Where to begin?

We can start with the fact that when all is said and done --- counting numerous variations of: standing techniques, kneeling techniques, knife-taking techniques, sword-taking techniques, staff-taking techniques, combination/adapted techniques and reversal techniques --- Jeremy and I will have to know and perform well over 200 different SANITY-TAKING techniques. The object is "to be able to apply and variate techniques" after all. And at the very end of it: Jiyu Waza, multiple attackers. But then, to me, that's the fun part.

Not surprisingly, this is the very same test that we will have to perform later for Shodan/black belt. With two vital differences. For Shodan, it will all have to be "shinier" --- more polished, ...More Read More
Views: 899


In Training 30th Anniversary Saskatoon Seminar (09/05-06) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #235 New 09-09-2008 02:12 PM
Five of us (Sensei, Jim, Lisa, Anders & I) recently went to Saskatoon to participate in their 30th anniversary seminar this past weekend and came back happy to have made the trip (cramped legs and sore backs from the long drive notwithstanding). Due to it being a rather "special" seminar, not only did Kawahara sensei instruct, but so did the founding instructor of the dojo, Makoto Otsu. I suppose my only regret (as usual) would be in only being able to train during the Saturday instead of all weekend; mainly due to the long drive that would take up most of Sunday.

I really appreciated how Kawahara sensei focused greatly on Kaeshi Waza (reversals) during his portion of the class. Considering how reversals (along with Henka Waza: variations/combinations) form a part of our upcoming Ikkyu test, it was nice to see how Kawahara sensei in particular does them. I'm sure Jeremy would also have really appreciated seeing this as well. I did feel rather sorry, however, for some of the "greener" Mudansha (white belts) who I trained with that obviously had little to no experience with these techniques and were struggling --- sensitive to the etiquette regarding "shadow teaching", I was allowed to assist very little and felt badly about leaving them in the dark and tried to drop discreet hints here and there wherever I could in the hopes they'd figure things out on their own.

Another unique thing to note was seeing Kawahara sensei demonstrate a sacrifice throw as a variant of ...More Read More
Views: 1309 | Comments: 2


In Humor The Aiki of Sewing (!) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #234 New 08-16-2008 01:34 PM
As further evidence that:
a) I over-think things
b) I really was an English major once
c) I have Aikido on the brain the vast majority of the time (which explains the lack of space in there for much else)
d) I should give up on all these silly metaphors and parallels I always seem to observe the more I train in the art
or
e) all of the above,

...I wanted to share something amusing I discovered while sewing some gifts today. I'm not sure how many other of you Aikidoka have used a sewing machine before, but chances are if you have, you already know that it can be a rather finicky process --- not unlike a certain other process we all know and love. (Okay --- or make that "love-hate", depending on what progress you're making with your training or even on what technique you happen to be working on.)

Now those who know me well understand that I am nowhere near being a technological pariah (I love electronic gadgets, the mechanics of things and working with my hands in these respects) and that I strive to be extremely detail-oriented. Or anal, depending on who you talk to. That said, these characteristics are ones that you would think would practically guarantee me success in my sewing endeavours. Not so, I'm afraid. After all, what really does?

First of all, some quick context for those who might not be familiar with how a sewing machine works...in a nutshell, the machine manipulates two threads that bind your fabric together:
- the to ...More Read More
Views: 1332 | Comments: 3


In General The Teacher's Mind and the Student's Mind Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #233 New 06-15-2008 11:14 PM
...or should I say: "Sensei-shin" and "Deshi-shin"?

Sensei will occasionally troubleshoot a fellow-student's technique by asking me to demonstrate it for them on his behalf. I find this at times a somewhat dubious honour --- dubious only in that I am not yet at the place where I can always explain what it is I am doing correctly in contrast with what the other student is doing differently.

Case in point: Yesterday afternoon, Jeremy, Lisa and I were practicing test techniques and during one of Lisa's turns as nage, Sensei told her, "No, that's not right," and asked me to show her how I do it. I did the technique as best as I knew it and at the end Sensei said, "That's correct, but can you explain to Lisa what was wrong?" At which point, I could not, so Sensei continued to clarify for us.

It was then that I realized clearly for the first time that I have been and continue to view techniques from a completely "student" perspective. Never have I, while watching either Lisa, nor any other student, been able to pick up on errors in movement or timing that weren't obvious ones. Subtle discrepancies in technique are still quite beyond me. I find myself viewing other students with what I can only describe as a passively observant mind --- one which sees without, for the most part, a critical judgment towards what they are seeing. When I view Sensei, Kawahara Shihan or any other Yudansha practitioner performing technique, my mind towards what I see changes int ...More Read More
Views: 1586 | Comments: 3


In General Rootedness on Unstable Ground...in Life Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #232 New 03-30-2008 02:58 PM
I like to think that a person's truly defining moments are found in how they handle adversity. You can either sink or swim. You can rise to the occasion, face the challenge head-on or concede defeat. Either way we choose, the process shapes us. And it's always nice to see in times like this that you're not alone.

For the past eight to nine months our dojo has gone through a huge transition. The space it has occupied for 15 years was to be demolished, leaving us without a place to practice. Last Summer was spent holding practices in the park and despite having many merits in and of itself (I found the challenge of fighting not only my own allergies but the inconsistency of environment inherent in simply being outside in various kinds of weather a valuable and eye-opening experience), it just doesn't replace traditional waza on the mats. As the saying goes, "It's a nice place to visit, I just wouldn't want to live there."

And boy, did I miss doing ukemi. Though this feeling changed somewhat --- at least for a short time --- as soon as we did find a temporary space and were able to get new mats. Forty-two, bea-uuuu-tiful brand-spanking new Zebra tatami-style mats. Hard. Tatami. Mats. Yowch. In short order, I realized just how spoiled we were with the cushy foam and fuschia vinyl deal we had at the old dojo. Really, really spoiled. But soon enough, we started getting used to them. They're what you'd call "fast" mats...though this was not necessarily a go ...More Read More
Views: 2642



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