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ha! aikido dojo is open again. Yay . I thought it was supposed to be closed for 2 weeks ie the entire duration of the lunar new year but it turns out I was wrong and it was only closed for one week. Luckily someone put me right so I turned up for class.
It's always a little strange to be back after a short break and yesterday I was a bit rusty on my tenkans especially since I was partnered with this superfast shodan girl who has very sharp fast attacks. I simply could not get my tenkans into position in time. I actually often have ths problem with her. I think she just moves much faster than I have the reflexes to cope with and it means the only effective way of dealing with her is to irimi/enter rather than tenkan.
I was thinking with a big guy I'd rather tenkan than irimi but with a small fast opponent I'd enter. Then what would happen if a big fast guy comes at me?? Runnnnn...... But more seriously, I think then I'd have to atemi, to feint to throw him off balance.
Oh I really felt my inability to do ukemi for irimi...sigh. I really really have to get one of the seniors to show me how and drill me through it cos although I've seen it done, I can't break it down for myself. I need to learn it step by step.
I feel my age more now though. It's kinda catching up with me .
now of course that I've been for a week without aikido, it's less awful to contemplate another week without it. So with all that free time, I played tennis on the 3rd day of Chinese new year with some non-aikido friends. My arms and legs ached a bit for two days, and I stubbed my toe. It's comic how I always manage to injure myself at tennis and never at aikido. Had a whale of a time though rushing around the court merrily. I'm too impatient really for tennis so I tend to need to learn to wait for the ball to come to me. But given that it was the first game I'd played for close to 10 years, it went well. That's if you don't count the ball I hit into the swimming pool
I tried golf too! The game I swore I never would try till I was a lot older. The golf pro gave us a short free lesson as an introduction before asking us to sign up for 10 lessons. Unfortunately for him, it also made me realise that it was an easy enough game so that I could learn it without an instructor. There's only really one move: the golf swing. Just do it bigger or smaller. And with different clubs. And I found a cheap way to practice too: just rent the club and the balls at the driving range for less than $10 a session. So I might try to just hit some balls around with my friends who want to learn it. Lessons are just so expensive they're a luxury I can do without.
I figure heck, if I learnt badminton without professional coaching and squash without professional coaching, this w
Soooo sad that the aikido dojo is shut for Lunar New Year, not that I begrudge the instructors their holiday at all...they've incredibly faithful to keeping the dojo open and this is actually the first time I've known them to close for any length of time.
But now of course I know how addicted I am! I did yoga this morning and will play tennis tomorrow and may even try golf...a game I swore I'd never play. And maybe go back to learning the argentine tango...None of these however ever give me as big a kick as doing aikido.
I got partnered with the Biggest guy in aikido class last night. He's a big German guy I think and easily the biggest guy literally in class. I'm not the smallest but I'm one of the smallest women in class and probably only weigh 1/4 what this guy does. He's well over six feet and very broad and strong. I can't imagine why anyone would ever want to attack him . His wrists are so large it's very hard for me to keep a hold on them. Sensei came around to tell me to hold harder....I try!!! I did get the hang of holding his wrists hard later though but I have to get a *really* good grip.
We were doing kaiten techniques both from inside and outside from ushiro which i've never understood before. Last time I tried I wasn't able to figure out after the initial move out of the ushiro hold where I was supposed to cut down to execute the kaiten move. I was better today than the last time after sensei came around and said it's like ikkyo at the initial stages of cutting down. But I think somehow I never quite feel l have full control of uke. Especially if the guy is big. I somehow feel I'm too far from him when clamping down on his neck. There's too much of a gap between my centre and his. It's really my least favourite technique both as nage and uke cos I'm bad at both. At least with this guy he's more in control than the last chap I partnered so my falls are better. I go over quite naturally most times.
We also did kaiten from kata dori and the guy showed m
I was soooo happy to get my black belt. It's not even that I get more than fairly average grades most times when I grade but I'm just enormously glad I got this far at all, and I just feel it's also so much of a team effort. Without the long suffering patience of my sensei, the assistant instructors and my sempai, and anyone who would practice would me, I would never have made it this far. So I'm just very very grateful to them all.
I found out recently also that my friend has enrolled his two kids into the children's class and the younger one has down's syndrome. She stubbornly decided 10 mins into the class that she didn't want to do it and sat on the sidelines. I think she'll come around and come to really enjoy it but it'll take her a while to adjust emotionally although I doubt she'll have a problem physically as she is a very strong little girl. It's one thing I also really appreciate about my sensei that he'll take on so special needs people or people who lack confidence or who may have other physical problems. And it's amazing how far they can go with that kind of support.
First lesson I partnered one of the senior women who has a problem with inflammation of her joints so I had to be super careful. But for the first time my nikkyo actually worked on her. I've never been able to get it to work on her before because she seems to have superflexible wrists and very few people can do nikkyo on her as a result.
Second lesson, I partnered one of my friends whom I've never partnered before in aikido. He's very good. Much stronger than I expected and the posture is almost rigid. I responded by strength which isn't the best way at all since I can't possibly match his strength. So I need to find a way to flow around him. Both as nage and uke as I found my ability to blend with him wasn't very good. I have a big problem with taking ukemi properly from irimi at a slightly more advanced level. I can't go down and come up on my knees naturally and easily to make it easier on myself. Happened both yesterday as we were practising irimi from yokomen as well as on Tuesday with a guy so I know for sure it's my problem not theirs.
I also have a problem with kaiten nage. It's the outside version and the very last bit that I'm not doing right. I think one steps back with the front foot but the last move is to just turn the hips while keeping the feet in the same position but just swivelling around. For some reason I never feel I'm in the right position to manouvre uke around me to do the last twist of the hips. And I don't know why yet.
A visiting Japanese sensei was in town so our chief instructor opened the sister dojo to all who wished to go from his other dojos. I took the opportunity to go visit and practice there as I'd never been there before. It turned out to be a heap of fun and quite different in mix of students and the informality of the practice.
I found it very helpful that there were far more senior students around and they were actively helping me to figure out how to do a move or to correct me when I did it wrong. The class was largely composed of people above 1st kyu with just 2 blue belts and 1 other brown belt. Plus most of the people I practiced with were bigger and stronger than me so that's always interesting to see if I can still move them.
The visiting sensei taught a few moves I'd never seen before. I wasn't able to grasp his variation on the kotegaeshi which involved an irimi and tenkan in a different direction from what I was used to. There were other moves which involved stepping forward into uke's space while moving the opposite (held) and in the other direction. It worked well though but it takes me a long time to get used to these new ways of moving. I think I just find it hard to observe and pick up where to put bits of my body still.
The group went out for drinks and a bit afterwards at the nearby food centre. I was sooo thirsty and i love the sugarcane juice with lemon. The others mainly drank beer but I hate the taste of most beers. And we all got a
I'm super sleepy this morning after having worked till close to 3am after aikido. And figured I had to be in the office early in case my boss had any amendments he wanted done on the slide I'd done for him. So here I am falling asleep at my desk and I can tell my boss hasn't even looked at the work I sent to him...he probably got busy with something else urgent. And I'm zzzzzz.....
Don't regret it for one minute though. Last night's sessions were fun. The first class I got to partner one of the most senior women and her control is unbelievably good. I keep wondering if I'm doing shihonage right on her though cos I can't seem to control her to get her to come down near me but end up following her down to the mat cos I'm too scared of potentially hurting her. Its probably her way of telling me that I need to pull her more towards me rather than straight down which is a common mistake I tend to make. The mat got really crowded too at one point and I was terrified of dumping her into the path of other people practising near me.
Second session had a Japanese visiting sensei alternating with our chief instructor. First the Japanese instructor would demonstrate a technique then we'd practice then our chief instructor would demonstrate the same technique with a bokken. It was a lot of fun and I was thinking it's kinda like a jam session.
I had a really good partner in the second session as well, yay!, She's a couple of levels above me and recently tested for her
Classes on Fridays are so different from other days: they're much smaller and as a result more informal. Usually I show up early to help lay mats with the other early birds. I end up hanging up the scroll of O Sensei for the first time and getting all the first aid box and attendance sheets ready as well.
The beginners class turns out to have three newbies in it. I partnered the only other girl in the class. She's wearing a white belt but I found out during practice that she's got two years of aikido practice under that belt in another dojo so her level is more like blue gold. She does a pretty good shiho nage...I've decided that she does the bit over her head better than me and I should learn from that. She asked me at the start was it always like this on Fridays ie were there always so few people? to which I said, yeah, other people have a life ;P.
We did a few round robin practices which I like as it gives me a chance to practice with guys I don't normally practice with.
The second class was a lot of ki training which I'm not good at. One move was like a breakdance move: rippling the movement through the arm. One young man in the group clearly had done this before cos his move was definitely more fluid than everyone else's. All I can say is I don't feel ANY ki. But hey maybe we can put aikido moves to music? All these ki exercises, add in a little rhythm, a few irimis, tenkans, rolls and we might just have a good dance routine.
Grading was fun although nerve wracking as usual. I was lucky as I got to be in the last row right next to a good aikido buddy who was grading with me. Provided a lot of psychological comfort. I also had two great ukes. The first who reminded me to go slower at the start cos I was jumpy and moving a bit too fast. And the second who tried to help when I blanked out on one move.
It seems to be a grading tradition of mine to always completely blank out on one move. Last grading it was ushiro shihonage and this time I certainly got that one right but then promptly blanked out on the next technique which was ushiro iriminage. And I know I've practised it before and should know how to do it...I did it just the previous day. Sigh, well, time to take more ginko!
Just found out after the celebratory tea I had with a fellow aikido mate that he's planning on migrating later this year. I'm kinda sad cos he joined around the same time as I did...ah well, he's offered me free lodging where he is going if I visit him so that's an incentive to go travelling plus he'll know the local dojos there by that time.