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had fun practising on Sunday morning with one of the guys whose technique I like a lot as it's very smooth and he's very sensitive in general to changes in uke's balance. Am trying to figure out how I can develop the same level of connection both as nage and uke. I still feel like I'm not that sensitive because I'm still using too much muscle...still need to attain that fine balance between being relaxed but not a rag doll.
Just one note from that practice so I don' t forget it: kotegaeshi from a tanto thrust. Use a small down movement to destabilise uke first then raise hand up rather than sideways as this is less dangerous to nage.
Postscript: I tried that little variation of kotegaeshi with a tanto attack on another nidan, but lo and behold, it didn't work anywhere near as well...hmmm...back to the drawing board.
I'm so pleased that I finally discovered how to do the boat pose in pilates/yoga. I've always been under the impression my lower ab muscles are weak as getting to do these slow curls into and out of a boat pose are next to impossible for me at very low angles...and the yoga teacher finally said something which worked. She said that if your feet rise faster than your head, you'll never be able to do it...and I realised she was absolutely right. I was just raising my legs way faster than my head most times.
It's not really got anything to do with aikido but I thought there are also these moments in aikido when the instructor or one's sempai notes something and it suddenly makes sense. One of these aha moments. And they occur certainly in aikido as well.
A bunch of us gathered after Friday class for supper and for the sole English chappie amongst us, a couple of beers. For the rest of us Singaporeans and Malaysians, sugar cane drinks with or without lemon and plates of oyster omelette ("or luat"), satay (grilled meat on sticks) is the equivalent of a pint in a pub on the way home.
The conversation turned to how aikido tended to moderate one's behaviour in general and one of the guys said it had actually made him calmer. That was interesting to me because since I'm not generally given to losing my temper so it's harder for me to imagine what it feels like internally to lose control so easily. (If anyting I have the reverse problem of too much suppression of emotion ). So it was an interesting confirmation of what our chief instructor had said in another class earlier in the week. He'd pointed out how aikido actually often has this regulating or moderating effect on people's temperments. For people given to anger, it helped them calm down and for people who were more timid, it built up their sense of confidence and courage. For this particular person, he said he really agreed with that and discovered it had that effect on him. He also said aikido was a very good way of balancing his emotions before he went home and faced the demands of family life.
Plus he said he just liked the logic of aikido. Instead of trading blows, getting out of the way then taking someone down with a minimum of effort and minimis
Minegishi Sensei visited our dojo today and taught a seminar. There was a lot of focus on ukemi and it was interesting seeing the variations what she chose to emphasise. She was exacting in her demands on the ukes she picked. I'm noting some points here before I forget them which are the ones I'd particularly like to remember:
(a) as uke bringing ones feet closer together often creates more ways in which one can roll or breakfall out whereas having ones feet more widely spread apart tend to narrow the angles one can breakfall safely out of.
(b) keeping one's back straight and head out of the way of nage is standard stuff but something I know I can forget to do. She certainly didn't let any of her ukes forget. It also means that overall one keeps one's butt in line and maintains balance better on the whole.
She also taught a couple of interesting variations. One was on tianqi nage which was to draw uke first towards nage before throwing them. I thought at first it might be hard to do then realised well, if there was a committed attacker even if he was a lot bigger, then it would work fine since there would be forward momentum from uke. She was illustrating that particular variation and said because she said in her experience this worked better for a smaller person against a bigger person.
Overall though the best bit is always seeing a pint sized woman at age 67 well able to hold her own and bursting with life. She could easily be 40 with the shee
Just when I thought my high falls and general ability to take falls was improving, i realised today that I'm still too fearful. My instructor did a move I've only seen once before with me as the uke and I just completely stopped and that was even though I kinda half recognised it and it was a perfectly safe fall to take. But i just got scared and stopped. And then after I got up and tried again, a few times into ukemi, I managed to hit my head on the mat. Not enough to get hurt but enough to bump it. And I realised just how bad it was that my fear was getting the better of me.
I watched the other uke take falls and he's very good so the instructor threw him using a lot of techniques and throws we often don't practice so the class could see how the ukemi worked. All I can say is that I'm just disappointed with myself but also am sitting here wondering where's the balancing point for me between safety and fear. Fear has a role to play by stopping me from doing things that can be too difficult for me but it also means I don't take a chance when I should and then it paralyses me and stops me from growing. And this time around I'm pretty clear that it wasn't that nage was going too fast, at least not physically, but that my fear simply got the better of me, my brain then kicked in and over-rode my reflexes and I stopped to think .
Yippee! I'm getting slowly better at high falls. Our Friday instructor is moving the class along slowly but surely and just giving us the time and space to keep drilling till we begin to feel more at home with them. This time round we still did them slowly but distinctly faster than the nice soft low ones we did the last time. Am definitely feeling a little more comfortable about shihonage but of course we're still drilling at relatively slow speeds and not forcing uke too much.
Also figured that my left front roll which has a distinct tendency to be be crooked gets a bit better if I start out by bending closer to the ground to start with...maybe it just makes me turn my hips less. I suspect I unconciously turn my hips just before I roll which is what causes the problem.
1. shihonage: extend more to keep uke off balance when turning. I have a tendency not to and my uke after several rounds of me not extending, finally just pulled me in to show me where the hole in the technique was and told me how to fix it.
2. kotegaeshi: the first lock on the wrist is a lot more effective when done at my waist level. Have been really doing it too high.
3. relax more: especially in the kokyu exercise at the end, my uke demonstrated how I was using muscle strength when I could simply just reach and achieve a far more relaxed and effective result
Haven't praticed with this particular uke since I was a blue-gold and was really happy to get to partner him after so long. He's one of the senior dan guys who are actually very nice to the more junior to them and impart their skills very effectively. He always reminds me of a giant teddy bear somehow but with great speed and flexibility.
My falls really sucked yesterday though...somehow my left front rolls were really crooked, even more than usual.
Today i got to practice with one of the guys whose aikido I like and I've never really partnered. He was kind enough to give me a couple of pointers which I note down here in the hopes I'll remember them on the mat.
kotegaeshi: in the turning around, I need to hold and turn the hand close to the ground in order to ensure the uke is well and truly pinned down
sankyo ura: turn in and backwards...i'm not quite getting the angle right for ura somehow although my omote is more effective.
He was fun to work with in that he plays a little and experiments so that there's always a possibility of being surprised which keeps me more alert. Plus since he's got excellent control so I feel freer to attack in a more committed fashion since I know he can bring me down safely and softly.
I've always been afraid of breakfalls particularly from shihonage. So in our last Friday small class, our instructor took the whole class through breakfalls 101.
Turned out to be quite easy and not too painful even if one forgets to slap the mat first. What made it easy was that he asked that nage drop to his/her knee and simply allow the uke to fall out at her/her own pace. This reduced the distance to the mat considerably and therefore the impact and scariness factor.
We then did breakfalls from kotaegaishi which I've always found very elegant when done slowly, so it's more like a roll since nage leads with his hand very close to ground. Uke tips over very slowly and unfolds into a breakfall rather than a roll. Easy-peasy when done at this nice relaxed pace.
Our instructor then called up the shodan guy to do it at a much higher speed to demonstrate that the technique is exactly the same when done at higher heights and speeds. But fortunately we didn't have to do that yet .
So I've finally learned how to do them...at least at a slow pace.
Today we spent much of our time in class learning ukemi. It's good as we rarely have a chance to spend this much time on it and I for one sorely needed to practice my breakfalls. Friday's class being a generally much smaller one means we have a lot more space on the mat and the instructor has time to give us each more attention.
It turned out to be more fun and less scary than I thought it would be because the instructor kept the breakfalls light and gentle by keeping the speeds down so that people could gradually get used to how to fall. We'd throw each other in such a way that uke could do a slow and soft breakfall almost like doing a roll, but without getting up at the end. It worked very well as there wasn't any slight "leap" into the fall but just tip over at the point of loss of balance. Helped reduce my fear of breakfalls at any rate. Then as we got used to that, we increased the speed and height a little. Not too much, that would be for future practices and this was really the introduction.
The practice was a good one and the women in the class were especially appreciative of it.