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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
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