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Happiest of holidays to everyone! I love martial artists for their drive and passion; it's also what wears on me sometimes. Our strengths can be our weaknesses.
So, as I go into this new year I'm reminded of a lesson I regularly hear from my Sensei: the basic to Shinto is gratitude. I'm grateful for the many opportunities to learn; whether from the good things, the bad things, or even the ugly things...did anyone else hear that whistling sound? Anyway, what attracted me to Aikido is the concept of reconciliation...harmonization, if you will. On a personal level this means making my very different facets work in a more cohesive manner, both in terms of my mind and my body, which are themselves inextricably linked and continually influencing each other. This is "mind-body" as I understand it; the internals; that hidden portion of our training (intended or otherwise), the proportions of which shape every external manifestation in its own highly unique way.
Every day I struggle with different aspects of myself. When I was younger I was very good at finding indifference as a way of dealing with stresses. I could lock out my emotions and focus on the rational aspects of whatever it was I was facing. Over time though, I began to get the sense that I was becoming a rather cold person. I felt somewhat disconnected from the world around me and found that while I had a strong sense of dispassionate observation, it occasionally left me with a sense of being somewhat isolated from th
Reviewing the recent video of me taking jiyuwaza ukemi for Barrish Sensei, I've been trying to think about what's happening and why it seems like such a good practice to me (never mind the places that show specific mistakes). In the sense of opening up the body and having a fuller frame I think it can go pretty far. By exploring the meeting with and the nature of the connection with ( ) the expanding and contracting aspects of Sensei's structure, the mind/body dynamic familiarizes itself with things like ma'ai and establishing and reestablishing balance (which seems like it could be a kind of proto-kaeshi exercise in its own right), along with other ways the body gets in its own way.
At the moment of contact, invisible structural flaws can become a little more visible and adjustment is required to whatever extent it is possible, even if it seems at times impossible. At the slower speed of movement, I am able to perceive what's happening a little better and more quickly seek a better orientation of tension/posture; for me right now this tends to mean aligning the spine by sitting back more within my structure and relaxing where ever possible as much as possible.
Particularly as I get more and more tired, I as uke am simply trying to maintain structural integrity while maintaining positive pressure. I'm trying to keep my balance (gravitational and structural) as centered as I can perceive (looking inward while looking outward) while being twisted and stretched arou
Ahhh. Made it to keiko today. These last few weeks have been probably the most stressful and mentally challenging for me in some 14 years or so. I'm reminded of Chekhov's quote that any idiot can face a crisis; it's the day to day living that wears a person out...throw in some crises and suddenly things can seem bleak, to put it mildly. I was inclined to share details, initially, but I'm chosing to stick to my more comfortable mode and just give this gist instead. Suffice to say I've been feeling unraveled this last month or so and it's seemed to culminate these last few days. The part I'll share is that I've been missing keiko considerably, so it was good to address that issue directly.
It's been freezing, so the mats were hard, but considering all the stresses I've been feeling lately, they were a warm welcome. Apart from getting some jiyuwaza in with Sensei, I trained only with the newer students. It was mostly a case of happenstance (I turned and bowed to whoever was next to me), but when I have been missing keiko I do tend to feel self-conscious about training with the more advanced students, like I might be wasting their time. In retrospect, I don't think I should think this way. I may not be particularly good or caught up on the particulars, but I will learn quicker training with them. That said, I had a great time and feel like I got a lot out of training with the newer students like I did.
Sensei had us doing some different warm-ups than I remember: a slightly di
Well, it's been a busy last couple months. Attending preschool has proven harder for me than for my 4 year old. It's a co-op, so I have to take an active role, which I like (I love the principle), but it's been an adjustment for me. We have a hard time with finding a babysitter because I'm not very willing to let strangers into my home, let alone care for my kids...which are about as sacred as sacred ground gets. That all said, I am slowly shoring up my scheduling difficulties in that regard.
Keiko has been sorely missing. I can feel it in my body. I do some simple breathing exercises every day, but it's not the same. Also, I haven't been practicing them for an hour like I was before. A mixture of the change in weather and some good books, among other things, has created a lull, but I find the desire to practice better/more swelling again.
I thought I had more to say, but right now I'm distracted by the fact that my wife's grandma isn't feeling well at all; she's in miserable pain from the dehydration that can come with the flu...I will say this, though: seeing someone so sweet and bright with vitality in such constant pain brings a poignancy to mind for the real purpose behind personal development. If we don't learn, we're very much more at the mercy of happenstance; if we don't maintain our learning, same thing.
Take care, folks.
P.S. I'm going to begin daily Chinkon practice, starting today.
Today I was reminded of a central purpose to training: establishing organization so the system is poised to readily accomplish tasks, almost as if without planning (the planning happens, it's just that it happened earlier along the timeline than is necessarily obvious). I knew at the very least I would be late for keiko today because I have (still, as I write and wait) to finish a small job that more or less bloomed into a medium job (another case for improved organization), and then take my boys to my moms to be babysat. So I'm loading my van with my tools and the one board I have left to install when I notice a large omission: my "chop saw." My NEW "chop saw!"
So after conducting my own thorough investigation of the possible points of entry into my garage, it dawns on me: last week it got left in my wife's car. I'm a genius. A little laziness last week combined with a mildly hectic week to form a perfectly glaring hole where a little more structure should have been. After the many small, but stupid mistakes I've had on this small-to-medium job, it was rather disheartening to realize I'm not only adding one more mistake to the list, but missing keiko (as we "speak" in fact).
Live, learn, and keep on keepin' on.
Be excellent, folks.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbMKTZbUxzI (Joe Public, "Live and Learn")
Well the weather has definitely changed. Over the course of about a day or two I went from shorts and a t-shirt to wishing I had gloves in addition to the heavy winter jacket I put on. Last night the stars were beautiful, but they took on the luster of icy diamonds because of the cold air. This morning I can see the heavy dew in the blades of grass and it's about 41 degrees F. Soon they'll be frosted.
As per the current trend, last night I did my standard "warm up" practice routine: hakkushu; furi tama; ame no tori fune undo; and ibuki undo. I also spent a "large" amount of the time doing shomen uchi and negaeshi uchi. All in all only about 40-45 minutes.
Negaeshi uchi is one of my favorite motions to practice for how the winding and unwinding seems to help my shoulder girdle loosen up and align better with my torso and base. The feeling I'm getting is one of building tension in the winding motion which gets more or less released in the cut. The tension is a twisting stretching feeling through as much of my body as I can muster...I feel it most in my shoulders, scapula, and lower abdomen. Then I would try to include the hip/femur socket in the continuity of the stretching feeling. Note: where I feel it most is also where I get the sense I should be less tense; that's where parts of the "whole-body spiral stretch" are binding up. It was interesting to cut/return directly into the centerline compared to fading more off to the outside of the line.
The feeling I get is that
Summer has held a very pleasant string of memorable evening solo practices.
Lightening and rain and stars and moon; the calls of invisible birds flying overhead in the night; intelligent raccoon stares along with those of the cotton-brained, near-blind opossums; a thousand breaths and a million thoughts polishing the mirror of the mind's eye and its semi-stone, semi-fluid, placeholder. The night before last was cold and I can hear Winter's voice singing in the wind. The seasons flow on to a new phase of their dance.
Earlier this month I committed to writing out a detailed log of my training, but after a few days, I amended this goal to focus on my warm-up exercises (ame no torifune undo, furi tama, and ibuki undo, most specifically). I'm still tracking things, but instead of focusing on the list of behaviors, I'm focusing more on developing the habit; of not needing the props of paper and pencil to make the list happen.
So far this month I have missed one of my evening practices. I've been enjoying a developing sense of solidifying to the routine of hakkushu, furi tama, ame no tori fune undo (which includes furi tama between the 3 sets), ibuki undo, and again furi tama. I've averaged close to 45 minutes or so. I'm usually spending the majority of the time on ibuki undo and transferring that feeling to doing shomen uchi (which I might describe as a focus on "age"/raising and "sage"/dropping).
In ibuki undo I'm focusing on relaxing and reaching in symmetry about my hara;
Managed to get to the dojo today and train. I was late, as usual, which is a little tiresome when it's an established pattern, but c'est la vie...Gambatte and all that. At least I actually made it.
The last week I've been focusing on my connection to the Earth, primarily through standing and moving breathing practice. What that mostly means is that I paid more attention to how my feet were feeling, trying to get the sense of my knees transferring weight straight down. Any tension I feel in my knees I try to relax and adjust my feet and hips accordingly to allow for it. However, it was interesting for me to note that I woke up with tender feet today. I'm not sure if that's because I ran too hard Thursday (we had an awesome downpour which absolutely demanded my boys and I go running around in the back yard) or I put too much tension into my feet yesterday while I was practicing. Whatever the case, they were sore and I showed up just in time to do bokuto practice on the little island that formed out in the river. It's covered in river rocks which usually don't bother my feet at all, but today I felt every little pointy bit, eve when that "point" was just a smooth "corner." After a few cuts I managed to get my ki relaxed and it wasn't so bad. Walking through the river back to the embankment was a nice refreshing massage for them.
We did a little more bokuto work inside, working on negaeshi uchi before getting to work on taijutsu. I bounced my sword onto my partner's finger
One of the thoughts that kept coming to mind while I was running was the idea of how important organization is and that I want to start detailing a list of goals as a matter of habit. My bottom line goal for the next S2S Relay Race, assuming we are able to do it, is to run an average of 10 minute miles for comparable or longer distance. I'm aiming for 9 minute miles though.
Suburi has generally been more about doing things as they pop into mind, but I'm going to detail a log and introduce a definite form and sequence reflecting the practice at Tsubaki Kannagara Dojo a little more closely. This will help sharpen my sense of the form and etiquette of practice there while giving me a more definite place to focus my (hopefully improving) analysis/synthesis of data.
Also, my oldest son is just over 4, and has always had remarkable dexterity for his age so I'm going to start introducing what little I understand of push tests and connection exercises and see how he likes them. I want him to have as good a foundation structurally as I can offer, but it also will reinforce my learning, if my short time teaching a kids' Aikido class is any measure.
8/25 - Standard Solo
(not in order; furi tama repeats several times)
Misogi no O harae
Ame no tori fune undo
~20 min. Shomen uchi from mugamae, chudan, and wakigamae
~15 min. Jo tsuki
~200 various makiwara strikes (thinking: "drop" the strike into vertical and horizontal surfaces
This summer has been a busy one. My wife is a busy person in general and likes to plan things months in advance so unless I learn how to claim time better I'm going to be defaulting to her schedule. She makes a good effort for making sure I get "me time," but weekends are a tough commodity to keep available. Case in point: this last weekend I ran the Spokane to Sandpoint Relay Race, about 200 miles of staying up all night either running or driving. I went along because I knew it was important to my wife (she did it last year and had a lot of fun), but I was a little unhappy about yet another weekend being taken away months in advance.
That said, I had a blast. I got to run the first leg down Mt. Spokane at 6am, so I got to see a wonderful sunrise. The 5 miles downhill went smoothly. It was designated as a very hard run because of how hard it can be to run downhill, but it was the easiest of the 3 legs I would run. I spent a lot of time focusing on how to absorb the impact so my knees and hips wouldn't get too tight. I would feel where it was going into and try to shift it into different areas...really, to spread it out. Throughout the race I found that focusing on my feet and how they struck the ground was crucial to both maintaining stamina and minimizing wear and tear. The second leg was the shortest, but toughest. My first leg was done at about 60 degrees F, but my second leg was done in 80 degree weather with a lot of gradual uphill climbs and no real breeze as I ran n