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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
Been a while so I figured I'd write a quick blog. It's been hard to get to keiko. My wife is busy with the usual end of the year stuff at school so my evenings have been taken up with my li'l darlin's...a kind of keiko in its own right at times. I'm all but done training for the marathon, which has been a fun experience of rediscovering my love of running, never mind the reassuring notion that I can still train for something like that and have almost no injuries pop up...Tomorrow is only a 60 minute run. Even as a life-long soccer player, I wouldn't have thought I could view an hour as a "short" run.
Made it to keiko last Saturday, after my relatively short, Long Run. It's an interesting experience to receive some heavy hands after an 80-minute run. My legs felt sapped on the first bit of ukemi, but on the other hand, it's hard to muscle through things when you're already tired...and I have to admit I usually enjoy the heavy and relaxed feeling that comes with training that way. That kind of feeling always reminds me of my grampa, who at almost 80 can outwork me by a fair pace (and I've always been lauded as a hard worker). He grew up a farm boy in Saskatchewan and has always had a higher energy level than most people. He once said he loves hard work for the feeling after he's done with it; that everything tastes or smells a little better after a few good hours of breaking a sweat. I associate this axiom with the idea of kannagara (the restless and infinite flow of the univ
I had intended on writing a little about our Aiki Taisai sooner and in more depth, but I've had a lot on my plate and my mind has been a little too scattered. Our family friend who has been fighting brain cancer passed away a couple days after the Boston Marathon bombings. I thought I was prepared for her passing since we've been dealing with her struggle for some time now, but I broke down uncontrolably at her wake and had to leave the room. I will always remember the way her singing voice filled the room and gave me shivers; it was so soulful and clear every time I heard it.
I had a number of things I was going to remember and focus on to write about, but enough time has gone by that they're already not as vivid as they were. The images and sounds which still flash through my mind from training: branch tips tickling the sky as I shout invocations during misogi and then ashes floating in the air, settling downward toward the rippling Pilchuck river; people smiling and catching up as they see each other for the first time in a while; kiais filling the air and mixing with the satisfying thwack of wood on wood; and lots of laughter.
This taisai was different for me in one key way. This time I've actually been training somewhat regularly so I felt the distinct responsibility that I was supposed to know what I was doing and to teach the basic form of our practice to our guests who might not be as familiar. By the standards I would like to employ, I did terribly. Whether my cu
...happy happy joy. Keiko was a blast tuesday! My inlaws are in town so I was able to make it to both the beginner class and the open class. I came home exhausted, energized, and thoroughly delighted.
I was able to show up early like I used to way back in the long long ago, which was kind of fun in its own right. I got to see the newly-lacquered lamps put in the heiden before warming up for the beginner class. We got to do lots of morote dori, which is one of my favorites for how it seems to help remind me to get both sides of my body involved. We did kokyu nage omote and ura and, I want to say, shihonage, but I might be mixing that up with the open class.
In the open class we trained outside until it got a bit dark. The white hakama and keikogi almost seemed to glow in the dim twilight; I love those kinds of semi-surreal moments. They seem to imbue a sense of the grand mystery of the world/universe, which for me adds to a sense of opening the mind and intent. As fun as that was, I still feel so "new" with regards to the bokuto waza. Certainly I feel more familiar than a year ago, but with taijutsu I have a lot more confidence...like I can "fake it" better.
At any rate, we went inside and worked on morote dori shiho nage ura before moving on to what I think was a tsuki kokyu nage variation. Sensei started the morote dori focus by showing a variation which brought uke's arm closer to the shoulder, using a bowing motion to facilitate the suppression. It was interesting to
Went to bed about 12:30am last night, got up at 6:20am this morning to go for my long run. I went to the earlier training (which is technically for 12+ min./mile people) thinking I could run the hour and then drive up to the dojo for keiko, but when I got there I was told it was a 2-hour day. So I ran 2 hours. I see my usual group coming toward me as I'm on my way back from the half-way point, but then a short while later I see them passing me going the same direction! Turns out it was a 60 minute day for the faster group and a 2 hour day for the slower group. So I got some extra steps in. I actually felt really good throughout the run, though. I was drained by the end, but I finished running faster than when I started. I sent a message to my wife and she replied, "going to head home after all that I bet!"
"Nope! Going to Aikido!" was my reply.
I was about 30 minutes late; just in time to get a little outdoor training before Sensei brought us inside. I was spent, but had a great time. We worked on morotedori kokyu ho, starting with a focus on the morotedori suppression and then going into the waza proper. Running makes me stiff and I felt very stiff, particularly after having missed roughly the last month of keiko, but I came away feeling pretty good, all things considered. I came home, showered, and promptly took a 2-hour nap. It was the best nap I've had in months! When I woke up I felt awesome! So awesome I went and tackled the pile of gravel while my youngest played i
My 3 year old asked for another cookie from the bag and I said they were all gone. He looked at me for a second then asked, "Is there zero inside there, papa?"
...And likewise, there's no keiko tonight for me. I missed last week because I chose to work a wayward job that came my way, and this week when I needed a babysitter, everyone seems to be sick except (mostly) me. C'est la vie. I could use some limbs twisted, though. I'm always surprised how tight running makes me in certain areas of my back, and I was looking forward to my "weekly" adjustment.
Speaking of which, the marathon training is going modestly well. The long run of our training regimen was 70 minutes last week. We're working at a very conservative pace and it's been great for keeping my usual aches from showing up. I think changing it up to a walk every 9 or 10 minutes allows me to kind of reset my posture. I've also been trying to implement ki in my runs, which seems to help me focus on smoother, more balanced strides. I find myself focusing a lot on how to strike the ground with my feet and how that feels in different parts of my body. I'll imagine projecting my hara deep to the center of the Earth and I tend to feel my "center" (more or less) stabilize, and my energy increases as my strides expand slightly and my strikes seem more springy.
Suburi at night has been slightly cold and/or windy. A little wet. Nice though, all in all. I've been working more on striking the funky "makiwara" I made, trying to t
I missed keiko last week, so I was anxious to get to training last night. As usual I've been fighting some kind of illness (a rattle in my chest), but just the remnants. This time I remembered to bring my video camera so I would have some study aids in between my attendances in class, however when i got it home I found only about half the class was recorded as the battery died. I also managed to miss the corner where sensei demonstrates bokuto exercises, so I got a great shot of pretty much everyone except him. Still, I was able to at least catch some of my sempai doing the exercises. I also managed to get the first part of the taijutsu portion of class.
We worked on ai hanmi katate tori irimi ura from the gokyu test requirements. Sensei began with seiza, then backwards hanmi handachi, and then from standing. In some sequences we laid the receiving hand on the inside of the knee/lower thigh and uke tried to push nage over through the leg. We did this in a somewhat static way which made it feel very much like a push test. I was trying to receive the incoming force and to be able to stand up into it (even if that meant sinking the hips a little). I liked that it forced me to really feel my base and consider what my knees were doing.
All in all I got another great workout. My legs were feeling the burn and while I was taking ukemi for sensei, a few times I was shaking from all the exertion. I really needed some mat time; it felt great!
I could sit here and write a lot more
Keiko thursday was challenging in a couple dfferent ways. My kids had been sick and had a hard time sleeping, so of course the same was true for my wife and I. I watch them during the day so to keep awake I drank more coffee than I should have. By the time keiko rolled around thursday evening I was fried. I made it just in time to bow in. I like to use the open mat time before class to get my wits and body loosened up, but didn't have the chance to this time. I felt pretty out of it most of the evening, but it was a good chance to work on my ability to focus. By the end of class I felt much better.
The last couple classes have included a focus on a double kesa action, which has been fun to explore. We also worked on gyaku hanmi katatetori ikkyo undo (edited: confused irimi ura from an earlier session), which was done a little differently than in the past. Sensei told me I needed to put more ki in my left flank/kidney area and it was interesting to work on the waza with this in mind. It suddenly became easier to align myself verticaly and to feel the forces settle into my hip/base (i.e. I felt more powerful and more stable). Writing this now I realize the last couple nights I forgot to work on this during my suburi, but tonight I'm leaving myself a note to really work on this.
On another note, my wife and I are planning on doing the Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon this year and we decided to train for it as part of the Team in Training program. We're going to be fundraising f