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Was very happy to be at aikido yesterday particularly since afterward I had to go finish up drafting a paper for my work. I'm just so glad to work in an office that's generally flexible enough so I get to leave mostly on time and go do aikido then go home and complete work where necessary. OF course it meant I was up to 2am but that was partly my fault for wanting to attend *both* aikido classes and watching Las Vegas on top of that till midnight. And of course having to get up early the next morning to call my boss in KL to discuss what I sent him the evening before.
Actually I think there was a little aikido move in Las Vegas. It was the episode where the secret admirer declares himself and the big boss kotegaeshi's the snatchthief or at least that's what it looked like to me from a seated position.
Anyway class was great. Just normal fun. I tried to make my uke fall in the same place for irimi nage and decided I couldn't most of t he time...so much for the classical finish. First class was a lot of drilling in basic techniques but I got to partner one of the dan grades who's just got great form and is a very nice uke. One of those people who's amazingly immaculate all the time in her uniform. Me...I'm a slob...my hair invariably all comes loose at some point and I have to retie it.
Second class we did an interesting move from ushiro where uke moretoris one hand and then nage has to turn right around so that head and both hands fit through uke's arms
nikkyo: keep control at the end by leaning uke's pinned wrist against the crook of nage's shoulder while transfering hands
sankyo: keep control in the middle by pushing uke's arm up immediately after the inital ikkyo like pin down, then transferring hold to other hand. I've been shifting my hands without doing this which means there's an opening.
yongkyo: rotate uke's wrist inward so that fingers are pointing towards uke's body immediately after initial ikkyo move. Then transfer hands and apply pressure point lock.
gokyo: push into the shoulder and don't really need to change hold on elbow. instructor pointed out I have a tendency to lift that hold to turn uke's arm but in this hold there's no real need.
irimi nage: the classical end is to have uke land where he started. And I need to stop side stepping away so fast.
ushiro: I'm getting slightly (key word being slightly ) better at the footwork but still need a lot of practice generally with these techniques. Today we tried ushiro irmi. It did however give me a chance to practice stepping out of the hold and ensuring I go low enough and turn enough to break uke's hold. My dan level partner was pointing out I didn't break his hold near enough to the ground where he's the weakest.
ok, it's official, my ryotedori ushiro kaiten nage both omote and ura suck big time and I have to get this right before grading . Come to think of it, a lot of my ushiro techniques suck but that one is my least favourite move as it combines my two least favourite things: ushiro attacks and kaiten nage responses. I do two main things wrong: one is that I don't stretch out my hands above the height of my head far enough so that uke is overbalanced and the other is that I don't cut down uke's wrist near the ground. I need a lot of practice just to get used to how it feels and to feel out the right way of doing it.
I think I also need to practice my ryotedori ushiro shihonage which I was completely fumbled last grading.
kotegaeshi: must remember to use both hands on uke's hand/wrist to flip uke over.
from ryotedori: I can't seem to do this well. I think I am not moving from the body/hips enough. When one of the guys holds my wrists hard, I can barely move him.
one handed: I must remember to drop uke by pulling slight behind rather than directly downward
i need to remember to make the throwing hand do an "thumbs down" ...there's also a subtle difference I don't always get in bringing the arm down onto uke. Don't really know how to describe it but I know I'm not getting it right a lot of the time.
for one fleeting moment the instructor on friday got me to do it right and then it was gone. But I think again it's the same problem that I need to move more from my centre and it's the little finger cutting up from my centre that should make it work...just can't do it most of the time.
also turn wrists outward rather than straight in.
footwork: go into hanmi.
arms: lift arms towards front not side as I move back
One of the very nice thai aikikai young men showed me that as I was short, I could just bend more at the knees and bring the uke in towards my centre by brining the hand in towards my centre as I tenkan. I've been trying it out and it works. It gives me more control as nage and I need to move around uke less. I do need to practice it though to make it smoother.
last night's practice: this has always been elusive to get it consistently right. During the practice, one of the yudansha at AAF showed me to turn the wrist more to cut using the small finger out and that would make the uke's wrist also turn more effectively.
we practiced in the dance studio for once and since it has mirrors on one side, I occasionally glimpsed myself and realised my posture isn't upright enough for a lot of the moves. I need to be more aware of what the correct position is. I think sometimes it's because I'm compensating for a technique which doesn't quite work and that's the only way I can maintain fluidity.
Friday's class: first class back after the seminar. I'm still feeling that great after holiday feeling. Don't think it's improved my technical skills yet though . I'm blaming my muscle spasm behind my left knee which made me really afraid to move that leg and that's so not good for aikido.
I'm still remembering parts of the seminar: the shihan who could do 450 degree turns and the shihan who was very straight, very tall, who always went literally for the throat.
Shihans: I think it was Arai shihan I'm remembering from the conference. Little old frail looking man with white hair and no more than 5 feet, throwing men far bigger and stronger than him.
There were so many others that were memorable: Shihan Kobayashi I think was the one who executed 450 degree turns. Lots of variations on turns. Great sense of balance. I thought it was also very effective for shorter people. He himself is no more than 5 feet. His son is much taller and acts as his uke a lot of the time.
Since I'm short I'm also taking note of all these technqiues which work well for little people .
Just came back from Bangkok from the AAF congress. It was a great experience, more than I expected. Seeing the country demonstrations followed by the shihans and doshu was very good. And before that the different classes conducted by the different senseis was also highly instructive. It taught me a lot about how far more I need to keep learning and keep trying to improve as I felt my techniques tend to be weak where by now I should at least be able to do those basics so it's back to the drawing board! I was very impressed with a number of my partners and some of them particularly the senior ones were patient and taught me in the short few minutes I had with each of them for each technique we learned.
More details later but overall a great experience. Not to mention the rip roaring party at the end ...an unexpectedly boisterous party with lots of beer and music to dance to. Also made new friends from the other dojo in Singapore and certainly got to know my own dojo mates better from travelling with them.
Sensei's having us do more multiple uke attacks and defences. It's quite interesting and very challenging. I find myself too on edge as opposed to being relaxed and concentrating on technique. I need to consciously slow down to ensure I'm getting enough control and precision and retaining balance. Could have been the overdose of green tea but my mind was so not absorbing any visual information last night as one of my ukes, a very nice shodan guy had to tell me what to do with the first uke.
I couldn't believe it but turns out I react to very concentrated green tea with nausea. I think it's cos it was up to 6x more concentrated than it should be as it was my first time making matcha from powder so I thought, gee, one teapson should do it and I did a heaped teaspoonful. Then I found out from my friend it's more like 1/4 of a teaspoon. So I guess that's the end of my green tea matcha experiment for now until I regain my taste for green tea! I really did love the japanese tea ceremony green tea though. That was like drinking the cappucino version of green tea. Next time I'm going to ask someone who's experienced at mixing green tea to tell me how first. Nothing to do with aikido other than the fact I usually drink cold sweet green tea in between sessions of aikido to quench thirst. Today I think I might stick to plain water.
Monday's aikido: I'm practising when really tired mentally which means I can sometimes not get simple moves. We did a kind of kaiten nage which involved sliding alongside uke's punch with my back to uke then turning around in a kokyu like throw. But I kept getting confused and turning the wrong way. There are just some moves I never get for a long time and this is one of them. I was also getting confused between the ai hanmi and gyko hanmi versions.