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Aiki-Log -- Class #19
Thursday, September 30, 2004 -- 7:30pm
I found out why so many people showed up early for last night's class. The clock in the dojo was 25 minutes slow. The battery must need replacing. Since nobody noticed, we were all just using the "extra" mat time before class. That also explains why I was able to get exposure to so many techniques. Of course, that also explains why I got home so much later than expected.
SENSEI'S BROKEN BOKKEN
While warming up before class (the youth class was in session, as is usual on Monday's and Thursday's) I heard Sensei speaking. He was giving one of our 7th kyus a personal "make a lasting impression" lessons. I didn't see what led up to it, but Sensei was repeatedly striking very hard against their "house-roof" bokken block, telling them to just stand there and hold the block position. Each strike got harder as he said "There… do you still think I'm going to be able to hit you?" After about 5 or so VERY solid strikes… Ka-POW-clak-clatter. Sensei's bokken broke off about 2 feet from the end of his weapon. He kept striking until he had made his point: "The roof block doesn't look very strong, but it is very capable of protecting you from powerful strikes. Trust it." I think EVERYONE got that lesson! That bokken was custom made for Sensei by Norbert Sensei with a very dark, heavy wood. The shattered end was almost as dark as the exterior stain. It was a beautiful weapon. I believe
Aiki-Log -- Class #18
Wednesday, September 29, 2004 -- 7:30pm
I got to the dojo early and stretched for about 20 minutes. Once the room became available (the aerobics class finished up) I went in and started laying out the mats. This was the first time I've been alone while doing this. Usually I'm helping one or two others. I was taking my time, doing a careful job, lining things up and I was surprised at how meditative it was! I was just "doing the mats" without any rush, focused on the task. I really enjoyed it! I was actually somewhat disappointed when Norbert Sensei showed up and helped me finish. I had completed 3 of the 5 rows and was hoping I would get it done by myself.
Norbert Sensei: "Thanks for helping me."
Me: "Oh, I was doing this for you?"
Norbert Sensei: "Everything you do in here is for me."
Me: "My motivations were much more self-serving than that. I figured it I wanted to get some extra mat time, there needed to be mats."
I had Norbert Sensei help me with my footwork on the 8-direction cut. I was doing it right, but I wasn't sure. I did some rolls. I've progress from to on my way to . I need to find a good way to do ukemi at home.
John Sensei showed up and I asked him about my struggles with grip strength. He wasn't aware of any thought process that would help; I'd just have to work on it. So I'll just keep thinking "Pinky-Power" and start leaving my index fi
Aiki-Log -- Class #17
Thursday, September 24, 2004 -- 7:30pm
Norbert Sensei taught class today. Once again, 100% test prep. This time I got to work with one of our kyu-less guys that will actually be testing for 9th and 8th. He and one other person are doing that and they really wanted to work on 8th kyu test stuff. Since I was already paired up with the lone 9th kyu (his wife wasn't there) we split them up and each took one.
IF YOU'RE GRUNTING… BACK UP
I let him choose what he wanted to do since I'm not testing. He wanted to focus exclusively on the four techniques on the test, as shite. I was able to provide some useful guidance since I've only just recently (re)learned these techniques myself. Unfortunately, we were both making the same mistake; muscling the nikkajo. We found out that simply increasing the distance between shite and uke by a few inches makes it work without force. If you're too close it doesn't work right. Ma-ai… what a concept.
Aiki-Log -- Class #16
Wednesday, September 23, 2004 -- 7:30pm
John Sensei was back today! He pulled a "Norbert" and let us practice the entire class on test techniques. I worked with the "details don't matter that much" 8th kyu guy . Luckily, Sensei came by often and kept saying things to my partner like "it's all about the details." Things got better after a few demonstrations of why they matter.
GET A GRIP!
One of the things I'm trying to "come to grips with" (groan) is the struggle I have with using a STRONG grip, but not using STRENGTH to muscle through my techniques. I find that I tend to use a firm grip, but not a strong grip. The difference is extremely evident in the results it has on uke. A strong grip makes the entire technique work better. However, when I focus on strengthening my grip I naturally tighten my wrists / forearms / elbows / shoulders / torso / legs / etc., which has the effect of breaking the technique.
I think if I can grip uke the same way I grip my bokken (very tight grip, supple wrists) then I'll be a long way toward finding the happy medium between the two. Does anyone have any "tricks" to figure this out?
Aiki-Log -- Class #15
Thursday, September, 16, 2004 -- 7:30pm
John Parks Sensei didn't teach at all this week. Wednesay's class (which I couldn't take ) was taught by Marcus Schoon Sensei. He normally teaches on Mondays, which I can never attend due to scheduling conflicts. I was bummed bad enough before I found that out. Now it's even worse. I've never had a chance to meet or learn from him and I probably won't get another chance any time soon.
I got a chance to practice a bit at lunch time yesterday. I was helping a newbie friend prep for her 9th kyu test. We were in a parking lot working on various pivots, strikes and techniques. She was wearing stiletto heels and a mini skirt. I don't think we caused too much of a traffic jam.
Norbert Jaeger Sensei took over for last night's class.
100% of the class time was dedicated to test prep! This was great since I finally got a chance to work with a couple of 9th kyus. They're a couple in more ways than one... they're married. I've worked with him a few times, but never with her. We worked on the four toshuwaza that are on the 8th kyu test. I haven't done those in a very long time so I was glad to get a chance. I did fine on the #1 variations, but the #2 with a pivot and tenkan was giving me trouble. My footsi-waza needs work.
Aiki-Log -- Class #13
Saturday, September 11, 2004 -- 9:30am
I finally got to go to visit my parents (it's been about 6 months) in the Toledo, Ohio area. I found a Yoshinkai dojo (www.shinsuikandojo.com) 9 miles away from their house in Genoa. I showed up at 9am, but although the dojo was unlocked, it was dark and empty.
I waited for a bit. I was just about to leave when Mark Jacobs Sensei walked in. He let me know that they had just changed their schedule and that there would be a meditation class from 9:30 to 10:30. Then there would be an open mat for aikido (as is their standard for Saturday). He welcomed me to stay for both. Fritz Shermbeck Sensei conducted both classes.
The class was the first in a series, to be held weekly. Mostly, he lectured from a guide book (we each got one - 3 others were there) and then led a short breathing meditation at the end. He struck a bell-bowl for us to exhale, and again for us to inhale. It lasted about 5 minutes or less. He let me keep the guide book. It had a lot of good, general, information about what is it, how to do it, why to do it, benefits, etc.
There was only one other student (brown belt), me and Sensei. They were very willing to focus on my needs and wanted to help me with my test prep. I was somewhat hesitant since I only knew a few of my techniques and didn't know if their style would be right for my tests, so we tried it out.
It was a disaster! I watched the demo, under
Aiki-Log -- Class #12
Thursday, September 9, 2004 -- 7:30pm
Norbert Jaeger Sensei was filling in for John Parks Sensei. He decided to have an extended test prep. This was great since it's tough to get enough time to have some of the techniques explained in sufficient detail.
One of our Sempai demonstrated a technique that we then worked on. Next he asked if anyone had a wish to see a defense against any type of non-aikido attacks. I suggested elbow strikes so he put a defense together and had us work on that for the rest of the class. He left the ending open for personal interpretation and inclination. This proved interesting since there were so many ways to proceed after the initial blending / blocking.
Aiki-Log -- Class #11
Wednesday, September 8, 2004 -- 7:30pm
Test prep again. I worked with someone preparing for their 7th kyu test. They do fairly well, but their lack of concern for some of the details bothers me. Just a pet peeve I guess I'll get over.
NEWBIES ON DECK
We had 4 newbies in class. As we were switching partners I ran to the end to work with a very short (5 foot, maybe) young woman. I'm 6 foot 2 inches and I like to work with people a lot shorter than me because it forces me to get low and I tend to connect better since I'm focused on our differences.
We were working on a relatively simple technique. Uke pushes the chest, shite pivots 45-degrees to the inside, blocks, grabs, does a nikyo (2nd control) bringing uke to their knee, then backs up to stretch uke out face down on the mat, keeping the nikyo, putting uke's elbow down on the mat and applying torque to pin them.
She was trying to muscle it and was having trouble grabbing my big sweaty hands. She was trying to use her strength, unsuccessfully, until I took a moment and explained how the nikyo worked (90/90/90 - degrees, lock by pushing the fingers toward the elbow, then torque to get results). She couldn't believe it worked that easy on me. I said "trust me, I feel exactly what you do". She got a big grin and ended up torquing so well that I did a face plant before she could stretch me out on the mat. I had to have her back off a bit! It was great!
Aiki-Log -- Class #10
Thursday, September 2, 2004 -- 7:30pm
Before class, Sensei was helping a 7th kyu with his forward rolls by working on his extension. At first the student was basicially tipping over forward into the roll (much like I still do). Sensei put a 1x1 foot square riser (used to elevate aerobic stepping platforms) down for him to jump over for his roll. He continued by stacking more on top, then put the stepping platform on top. Then he switched to extending it out instead of up. He went back to one riser, but put another one behind it. By the time Sensei was done the student was jumping forward over 4 of them lined up end-to-end. When I asked, Sensei said his record was jumping / rolling over 7 students bent over kneeling side-by-side!
Class began with more test prep. I continued to work with whomever needed a partner. I'm covering a lot of good ground, but still have quite a ways to go before I've relearned what I used to know as 7th kyu.
Sensei demo'd a bokken technique that started with uke doing a tsuki (thrust) and shite blocking with a very subtle movement... stuffle in, your blade to the left of uke's, rotating your bokken clockwise so that the back of your blade slid against uke's. Continue forward with the sharp edge of the blade sliding against and past uke's neck on the right (yours, not theirs). A BIG cross step to get behind uke, reaching under the tip of your blade (the front is still across uke'