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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: 541,369

In General For Love of the Dance... Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #231 New 08-02-2007 04:10 PM
Last Saturday marked my fourth public demonstration of randori so far. In some ways, it feels the same and yet quite different: I'm no longer nervous like I was the very first time; I've done the same movements enough times over that it feels like second nature --- at least the sabaki/strategy of it feels like I could do it in my sleep. Yet I've found myself, in retrospect, with a greater awareness of my body: a better sense of when things flow right and when they feel forced. Thankfully, it is a moving chess match --- dynamic, not static --- such that one can adapt one's sabaki on the fly in order to put yourself in a position to better "complete the circle"/blend and flow. Still, I would say that only 25% of the time, it's good flow --- the other 75% of the time it feels contrived. Let me tell you, though, that scant 25% always feels divine, effortless. Truly, it's like you're dancing on air --- as for the other 75%: there's always tomorrow, and the mats will always be there welcoming more practice. Or so we hope.

My one saving grace of course is that the audience never seems to notice that which I so very obviously feel in my movement. Sensei asked me afterwards how I feel after hearing so much praise for my performance at the demo. Honestly? I said --- it doesn't matter. They see just a few minutes, a mere snapshot of me --- the seemingly finely-honed end result of what ultimately becomes years of training, innumerable bruises, injuries, blood, sweat and tears. They ...More Read More
Views: 1287

In Humor Note to Self for the Future Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #230 New 07-18-2007 09:50 AM
A public demonstration is not the time to try to pull off waza that one has not practiced for over a year. *pokes Jeremy violently with her Jo*

(A full update re: last weekend's Gasshuku to follow shortly)
Views: 1366

In Miscellaneous Lessons Learned on a Windy Dock at 6AM Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #229 New 07-03-2007 12:53 PM
Just got back from a fun and relaxing Canada Day long weekend at Shoal Lake and naturally wherever I go opportunities to deepen my understanding of Aikido always seem to follow.

Rootedness on Unstable Ground

I woke up early on Saturday morning and did a hybrid of my AM workout on the dock --- some balance and Chi Kung breathing/centering exercises and basic Aikido kihon exercises such as different varieties of Irimi Tenkan (as well as some improvised cardio/strength ones thrown in for good measure later on).

As I was performing the balancing and centering exercises in particular, I found that Kawahara sensei's descriptive imagery of rootedness took on a new dimension. It was far more windy that morning than ever before and the already unstable dock would rock back and forth quite erratically. Up until this point, I had only had a physical understanding of rootedness "in one's feet" by way of feeling connection to the ground. I had only a mental understanding of rootedness in one's centre from feeling more stable on stable ground by lowering my centre of gravity (through squatting in Aikido technique). But when one's ground is itself unstable, one's ability to stay centered is no longer felt in the lower body but (as it became quite apparent to me on the dock) in one's hara. What was once solely a visual depiction suddenly became a sensory one.

The Aiki of Fishing

We did a fair amount of fishing this weekend, which I enjoyed (caught one Jack, which we ate ...More Read More
Views: 1141

In General 05/12/2007: SK Seminar with Kawahara Sensei Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #228 New 05-17-2007 02:14 PM
Pre-Seminar Nutrition Log: 05/07-05/11

- 15g Creatine/day (in morning fruit shakes) for the 5 days prior
- baked banana loaf for road trip (included oats, hemp seed)
- AM of seminar/"pre-event meal": good variety fruits, bran muffin, yogurt, omelet w/veggies, apple juice, green tea, 1% milk, the usual vitamin supplements
- Midday lunch break: focused on low-GI carbs (dried apricots, brazil nuts, apple, orange, pineapple juice), extra multi-vitamin and lots of water, of course

Energy Levels: (Not so surprisingly) very good! By the end, I felt like I could go a lot longer still.

After having missed the last seminar in the Fall due to my concussion (since recovered, with little residual effects thank-you!) I was rarin' to go. I wasn't disappointed.

Kawahara sensei, despite looking like he had lost a considerable amount of weight, was in good spirits. From an instructor's standpoint he may have seemed negative --- he had a number of disparaging things to say regarding instructors being far too egotistical, not practicing enough, and essentially blaming them for the poor performance of their students --- comments I was told afterwards which were meant more in a cautionary sense. One wonders, naturally, what more was "lost in translation".

Kawahara also made no small point that he felt that a number of his students in both Japan and Canada were "wasting their money" with Aikido by not pushing themselves to train harder. Personally, ( ...More Read More
Views: 1576

In Training Updated Strength/Conditioning Program - B Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #227 New 05-14-2007 11:33 PM
(Last Updated: January, 2009) - After spending some time researching the martial/real-world strength applications of Kettlebell training I picked up a Kettlebell for myself back in December and have been implementing a new conditioning regimen based upon this. As I am still a beginner with these, more variety in exercises will be incorporated as I learn them.

Very important note: any martial arts strength/conditioning regimen should always be IN ADDITION/AS A SUPPLEMENT to (and not a replacement for or at the expense of) regular Aikido technique training at the dojo. In my case:

AIKIDO TRAINING: Two hours daily, four times per week
- Classical Aikido: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
- Adapted Aikido: Tuesdays

This would be more often if our current training space were available Thursdays and Saturdays like our old dojo was!


- Grip strengthening exercises: a) Crushing grip strength, b) "Newspaper ball" exercise with paper for recycling


- Standing (rooting/stability) exercises


DAY ONE (Monday):
Kettlebells Strength Training Set A*,
4 sets each...
- Two-handed swings
- One-handed clean and press, each arm
- One-handed squats, alternating sides

DAY TWO (Tuesday): HIIT & CORE
High Intensity Interval Training
- approx. 30mins+ sprinting/jogging intervals for cardio
(includes warm up, cooldown and stretching)
- Side ...More Read More
Views: 16164 | Comments: 3

In General 05/10/07 - On Raising the Bar Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #226 New 05-14-2007 10:25 PM
...for myself, that is. [AikiWeb ate my journal entry! This was a post from last Thursday which, after slaving over it for a goodly amount of time, I lost when AikiWeb logged me out (I guess I took too long). I'm going to do my best to replicate what was originally written as much as possible. Consider this a word to the wise for my fellow AikiWeb bloggers: ALWAYS save your longer entries in another word processing program (ie. even Notepad will do) before submitting it, just in case, because you won't get it back if it doesn't submit properly. I used to be in the habit of doing this frequently (been burned in the past) but the one time (last Thursday)I decided to forego it, guess what happened? ]

So, some time ago I finished reading "Strength and Power Training for Martial Arts" by Martina Sprague --- ultimately, I found it a great overview of many easily-applicable conditioning techniques for all martial artists and as a result have been bringing some of the more overlooked concepts (ie. resistance training for the neck, plyometrics and bodyweight exercises) which the original strength training program designed specifically for me did not include. I think the only thing missing from Sprague's book was balance exercises --- something I've incorporated at the advice of a physiotherapist in the context of an old ankle injury --- which one would think invaluable to any martial artist. Otherwise, I felt it was a good general book regarding the benefits and application of conditioning principles specifically for MAs. As a complement, I highly recommend (and may have mentioned in the past) "Strength Training Anatomy" by Frederic Delavier for a more detailed graphical representation of weight training techniques (including descriptions of proper form, images of variations, and information on common injuries and how to prevent them).

Recently, I also finished reading "The Fighter's Body: An Owner's Manual - Your Guide to Diet, Nutrition, Exercise and Excellence in the Martial Arts" by Loren W. Christensen and Wim Demeere and found it extremely informative (though a lot of the more basic information was already known to me, I liked that a gr ...More Read More
Views: 4955

In Training Yippee! Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #225 New 04-08-2007 04:05 PM
The Saskatoon Spring seminar has been rescheduled for May! Mmmaaayyyy!!! Can't wait.

By the by, I bet you can't tell that I'm too darn-sod-it busy with work to post anything decent on here lately? I will, however, mention that I puchased recently and am almost done reading a wonderfully informative book as a supplement to my conditioning program called, "Strength and Power Training for Martial Arts" by Martina Sprague.

I'll have to go into more detail about it when I have the time, but I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to likewise up the ante with their training regimen and especially to fellow female Aikidoka (she has a particularly relevant chapter on women's training and the misconceptions --- old news to me, but would serve many others well, I'm sure). Overall, a very well-written book (a good balance between practical directives, facts and anecdotes --- it also has a sport-specific section which includes a strength/conditioning program geared specifically to Aikido and other arts) by a woman who trains and pushes herself hard martially --- she's also written other books such as "Fighting Science: The Laws of Physics for Martial Artists" and "The Science of Takedowns, Throws and Grappling for Self-Defense" that I wouldn't mind picking up in the near future as well.
Views: 1302

In Training The Seminar, or Lack Therof Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #224 New 03-17-2007 08:28 AM
Well, it is with great disappointment that I say this, but it should be readily apparent by the fact that I am posting this and not stretching on the mats at Saskatoon Aikido right now that we're not at the seminar.

Having missed the last one in November due to my post-concussive symptoms, I was really looking forward to this one even more than usual. Unfortunately, it was cancelled recently due to Kawahara Sensei being sick and we are waiting to hear back (if at all) as to how serious it might be. My first instinct, naturally, is to believe that one does not cancel plans a week or more down the road based on something as minor as a cold or a flu.

It is with this in mind that I am rather concerned that Sensei, at his current age and having once had to battle Cancer, might not be doing so well at all. It saddens me to even briefly entertain the idea that one day, (even as early as two to three years from now), the man who tested me for Gokyu might not be the one testing me for Shodan. I'm aware that this does not always happen, but I'm holding out for it.

Maybe it's that he reminds me of my late grandfather...I don't know. I suppose one could say that I have a big soft spot in my hard, brown, little heart for Kawahara Sensei and have been greatly looking forward to his seeing me through Aikido as far as possible. Suffice it to say, I'm trying hard not to think about it too much --- otherwise, the thought starts to depress me.
Views: 1073

In Training "She works hard for the money..." Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #223 New 03-10-2007 08:45 PM
...hee! I purchased the dojo a new camcorder. See?
http://www.nwaikikai.com/videos.html --- I love Adobe Premiere.

It's all minus the nasty *cough* bloopers, of course. That'll be another post...one day...maybe.

One week to the next seminar in Saskatoon --- can't wait! I'm going to this one, come hell or high water, darn it!

Will post some ruminatious, pontificatory jibberish soon. I promise. "Cross my heart, and kiss my elbow!" (If only because I'm beat up beyond repair.)
Views: 1099

In General Leading (in more ways than one) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #222 New 01-24-2007 09:33 AM
I have extremely high standards. I guess I don't need to say this to those of you who know me well and/or have practiced with me. I take my training seriously --- far too seriously to some. Each night on the mats is a constant struggle --- a duel to the death --- if you will, between who I am and who I want to be.

I know it may sound overly dramatic, but there is a duality at work here that (when I stop to think about it) you can't really avoid in an art such as Aikido. There is the me that is the practitioner: the woman whose Aikido is made up of mere physical movements that have come about based upon her own individual physiology, skills and experience. Right now, this woman is currently trying to delve beyond the physical aspects of the art that are seemingly visible to the eye. Gone are the days of figuring out what to move. *How* to move concerns her more now. She is experimenting with timing, extension, alignment --- essentially, the aspect of leading --- and how these all influence kuzushi (or lack thereof, in her case).

There is also the me that is exemplified by the quality of my character. She is a woman who strives to be the very best role model she can be for not only the other female practitioners in the dojo, but for any and all who wish to see value in what she does both on and off the mats. She takes her role as senior student extremely seriously. She also wishes others took her, as a practitioner, seriously. She wonders what it will take. ...More Read More
Views: 1094 | Comments: 1

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