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Friday's class was fun. The instructor had us stand in a circle and we then each took turns in rounds to execute techniques. Rather like a salsa dance circle except we're not all doing it at once but rather consecutively. The class range was largely junior with 3 white belts, 3 blue, one brown gold (me ) and a couple of black belts, then two very senior level. It was very interesting getting the feel of different people as usually in my dojo we stick to one partner for each practice session.
I realised that I really need to improve my basic balance even more than my techniques. And I found myself muscling through some techniques because of poor balance/
against the crook of the shoulder: remember to turn the hand and wrist of uke as much as possible and nestle it firmly against the crook of the shoulder before applying pressure otherwise it won't work.
freehold away from the shoulder: angle it just past the outside of uke rather than directly at them...seems to work better when just off the centre of the person.
I'm trying to remember not spin out of the "outside" throw when the partner doesn't take you down. Just walk straight out. I seem to have developed some bad uke habits! Also I have to work on being more grounded as uke particularly for shihonage where a nidan told me during a couple of practices with her that I was tending to lose balance a bit too easily sometimes.
Yesterday's practice was intense during the first class as the shodan lady I partnered has the fastest reflexes. Ikkyo ura her usually means I don't move into position fast enough. I feel like sometimes I'm not tenkan-ing close enough to her and am relying too much on arm strength as opposed to strength coming from body movement...once in a while I get it right then it's great but the rest of the time, I'm trying hard to just get into the right position in time. I noticed I had the same problem with simple tenkan exercises. I can't seem to move to her side fast enough.
We also did 2 attackers against 1 and I definitely have a tendency to run away . Sensei came around to tell me I was running around too much. I think practising close quarters will help me prevent that a bit as I think our initial spacing was too wide. Lots of room to run .
I'm all signed up for the aikido trip to Bangkok in November. It's my first ever aikido trip and it's the all Asian gathering which should be fun.
Lots of practice of the "windmill" throws today. I still can't quite get the hang of doing the ukemi and don't do proper rolls out of them at least half the time. My execution as nage isn't great either so I can see this is going to take a lot of practice.
kokyu ho from suwari waza: as uke I should remember to try to stay stable and not let my knees lift off the ground.
I had a whale of a time today during intermediate class practising with a visiting shodan lady from hawaii. She was good and as the rhythm was up, I was bouncing off the mats and she was gentle enough so that I didn't bounce too hard off the mats . The instructor came around to tell her not to throw me too hard just before we started I think cos he finds I'm extra-sensitive to pain! Yeah, clearly I need to look more fragile and ladylike so he doesn't have to go around posting warnings .
Actually come to think of it the most fragile and ladylike girl in our dojo is the fiercest on the mat plus she has great ukemi and an amazingly flexible body. The rest of us gals are lambs compared to her.
The All Asian seminar in Bangkok looks interesting. So far 15 from my dojo have signed up and I'm contemplating joining in. I figure it's the one chance I'll have to see Doshu and lots of shihans all gathered together. And by now I've more friends in the dojo so it'll be more fun being on a trip together.
I haven't been to Thailand for over 20 years too so it'll be interesting going back. Pity the new airport is still mired in delays so the old crowded congested airport will have to do.
Sensei was teaching some interesting new technique variations for ushiro on Monday. We did Sankyo from Ushiro. And he had us walk uke around nage backwards in a sankyo hold to ensure we had proper control before then going into shiho nage. I had lots of fun with this one because it's a bit difficult to transition from sankyo into shihonage and my partner didn't quite get it either. So we looked like a couple of dancers who were doing the dance a bit wrong till sensei came up and grabbed my arm in a sankyo to demonstrate it and had me walk backwards around him...since he's taller than me, I of course went up on the balls of my feet immediately and danced backward...and elicited a "good dancer!", "good ukemi" from him much to my surprise.
I always knew learning the argentine tango would be good for my aikido . Now that's a dance that really requires the girl to stick close to the guy and follow very intuitively.
Now if I could only do equally responsive ukemi from the "windmill" throw, or a shihonage breakfall. That's much harder to do. I would also love to be able to do really soft ukemi and land from a breakfall without making much noise.
I had a fun time in second class partnering one of the older black belts who's very good. He's accomplished in karate and kendo as well so it's not at all surprising he's good at aikido. He trained me today to keep looking at the opponent's eyes. I have always looked at the shoulder ro arm rather than the face but he refused to do any move until I looked at him so that worked as a correcting method. By the end of the class I got used to staring straight at the opponent and he's right, I can react faster when I do that. I also learnt that I instinctively time my breath with his attack when I look in his eyes which makes the technique more effective which was an interesting result. Overall it means I'm just more engaged with my uke. He also taught me how to relax a bit more just before springing into action and explained that if I'm tense before I need to move, then I will not be able to move fast enough. He's right of course but that's harder to achieve in practice.
Today we tried to breakfall from shihonage which I've never been able to bring myself to do before but did manage just one before the class broke up. I tried rolling out first but decided that slamming down is actually easier but this was a gentle practice where the partner doesn't really force the throw but let's uke take the initiative to throw oneself over. That worked cos then I didn't feel so much pressure and actually not that much momentum is needed to go over.
Today I was the only gal in the class and ended up with two very nice guys to partner whom I've never practiced with before so it was fun. First guy was much taller than me so I had problems doing the kokyu move where one simply steps aside from a wrist grab and lifts arm over and drops it on him. When one is distinctly shorter it just doesn't work so the instructor came over to tell me that I had to draw him down to my level or jump up to his if he refused to move.
Second class he had us try out hip throws which I've not done before. So yep, I've survived my first hip throw. My partner was quite accurate and tended to hold onto me a bit so I certainly had very soft landings. But before I had a chance to try it out as nage we switched over to modified ones where nage goes down on knees and the uke then rolls over instead of being thrown. Much easier and at least I was getting more used to the general idea.
We also practiced rolls a bit and I'm learning to get my left side a bit straighter. I just have to remember not to turn too much before rolling on that side to keep my rolls straight.
Friday's classes really do get quite interesting as a lot of the moves we've done I just never done before plus I often practice with people I've never worked with before including the guys and that's important I think to keep me learning and experiencing new ways of working.