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Finally! I made it back on the mat after a month or so of sickness and other life events getting in the way. It's hard having a wife who is a dedicated teacher who takes the time to bring other teachers up to speed while working hard as ever to keep her students progressing. I was supposed to have thursdays as my training day, but with my wife's work load I've been lucky to have the saturdays I've had. I'm not complaining though. I'm proud of her and look to her as a regular source of inspiration for the kind of dedication people can apply to their craft. In retrospect, I just traded one set of lessons with another; it's up to me to make those bear fruit...one slow step at a time, if that's how it is.
Between coughing fits, the practice was great fun. I was happy to still feel comfortable with the basic form of things because it meant I could focus on what drives the form: soft, whole-body power. Sensei asked me for a kyu waza request and I chose morote dori shihonage. I wanted morote dori because it helps force me to use both sides of my upper body together and gives me a great work out as uke. Similar reasons for shihonage; I love the stretch through my torso I often get.
I was able to train at one point with the senior-most student and one of the things I always love about that is how he doesn't let me just go through the motions. The second I start muscling I can feel the mistake. Even though he is incredibly soft in his actions, I just suddenly find myself unable to
I was starting to think my feaver was kicking up again, but when I checked outside I noticed it was a pretty warm wind blowing. The rain had stopped and I felt pretty good so I went outside for about an hour of my moving meditation practice. The wind felt great and was very refreshing. At one point I looked up at the clouds rushing past and it was just as a single bare spot presented a single dim star before passing along and out of sight: A perfect metaphor for too many things to list.
Initially I worked on loosening up my hips around the femur sockets as I "sat down" into mugamae and then tried to spring into various cuts from that position. Apart from that I just tried to feel where the tension was and to balance it out between the different sides, focusing primarily on left and right. At one point I recalled reading a post of David Orange's today where he mentioned the three dan tiens so I also tried to focus on aligning head, heart, and "tama," and found myself turning/"squeezing" around the fixed axis it created. Regardless of how poorly I move, it felt good and relatively balanced; poised.
All in all I feel great right now, although I notice I'm slouching as I type this. Time for some mint tea and ibuki undo before going to sleep.
"Intercept what comes; pursue what departs."
This is a rough quote of something I recently read which was describing the Wing Chun Chisao drill. I like it because it fits so well with what I understand of Aikido. "When the enemy arrives at the gate, go and greet him." Is a rough quote my teacher gave me one time. I have some vague impressions that come to mind when I think of it. I think first of the need to be assertive and decisive. There is no room for quibbling with yourself over the best course of action; thought must give way to pure, wordless perception in order to give the body the kind of readiness it needs to respond to the "enemy." Particularly so since presumably the "enemy" has already made his decision to attack. So we must be every bit as decided in our actions as those who would attack us.
Secondly I think of "fullness of body." When the "enemy" makes contact, where ever that contact is made, we must have as much of our body present behind it so we can use our whole body to block the "enemy" from walking though our "gate" to wreck havoc on our "inner sanctum." When an obstacle presents itself to an "enemy" he has to go around it somehow and this is where I think the "pursue what departs" comes in. To my mind this speaks to the constance of irimi. I must maintain pressure so the "enemy" cannot reorganize his attack.
In training we have all these limbs and the many internal systems which allow them to exert pressure into our partners, which makes it a very
Been a little run down this week. The lads are sick again, although not too bad. Last sunday I went to a Wing Chun class an acquaintance from highschool is teaching. I wanted to support him and I've always been interested in it so I went for the two hour class. I had fun learning the first form and I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of his training style. Train for about 50 minutes; have some tea and chat; train some more; have some tea before leaving. All in all quite pleasant, but I also enjoyed the punching mits. It was interesting how awkward I felt doing even just simple movements. They're very similar to movements we use in Aikido, but not being familiar and mimicking as we went along did a lot for making me feel uncoordinated.
What most interesting to observe in myself is the constant desire to translate everything back into Aikido. I was excited about what we were working on, but I kept wanting to talk about how it's like Aikido and I felt like I was overstepping my bounds as a student...even if it was just because I was happy to be learning what little I have so far. I'm going to be there tomorrow so I'll be more conscious of this ahead of time instead of after the fact.
Today's keiko was fun as usual, but I went into it a little flustered. I forgot to do the dishes last night so I had to rush them this morning. Then right before I went to leave I noticed my hakama wasn't in my bag. I looked all over and still could't find it so I just grabbed my non-cut-off (i.e.
I went to bed early last night so I would be more awake for misogi shuho...it'll wake you all on its own, but I enjoy it more when I'm already wide awake. Driving north to the dojo I could see the morning mists still nestled in some of the valleys, complimenting the beautiful morning very nicely. As is so often the case, I was a little out of it. I had a hard time keeping in sync with things, even clapping too early at one point during hakushu, but once I hit the water the forced relaxation kicked in and the cold surface of my skin was envigorating. When I was a kid I was weird. I would take cold baths sometimes because I loved how relaxed, but alert I would feel. Misogi often reminds me of my childhood because of this association and I'm sure it's led to my affinity for it. As a skier, winter was my favorite season, and just as I loved being out in the brisk cold, I loved the warm cocoa or oatmeal that always went with it. Similarly, I loved the hojicha which followded today's misogi. I can still picture the swirling steam rising between my hands, which were eager to soak up the heat.
...it's the little things in life.
Anyhow, we went out into the haiden for chyohai (daily ceremony) and then outside onto the deck, which faces southward toward the sun and river, to practice the chinkon no gyo. One day I plan to learn this meditation more formally.
Before keiko we got a wonderful surprise! A fellow student I havent seen in probably 7 or more years dropped by unannounced f
The last week I've been pretty good about practicing each night for about an hour. I'm focusing on loosening up my hips and legs; finding where exactly my body is and being relaxed enough that I can feel subtle stretches. Two nights ago I started practicing an older kata which involves whati think of as walking around one of the hips: so in migi hanmi the left foot moves forward and shifts directino around the right leg/hip. My right hip/leg is much tighter than my left from (I presume) my 20-ish years as a right-footed soccer player. Last night I continued working on this kata as well as the unsoku and tegatana dosa practice I learned from my brief stint with the Shodokan method. The hard part is remembering to be relaxed during the day when I'm not focusing on it. This afternoon I took the lads outside and while they ran around in the back yard moving rocks (I'm building a gravel walkway) and eating plums, etc. I practiced simple shomen and kesa uchi. I'm trying to have the feeling that the bokuto is floating atop a big ball, on the centerline, instead of feeling the weight so much. Today it felt a little like that.
Each evening has been getting a little cooler. The stars and breezes take on a colder more severe tone, which shifts the emphasis a little. It takes more effort to practice when it's cold out, but once I get going I'm quite comfortable. Last night I got pushed out of my yard by a family of 5 or 6 raccoons. The last few nights they've watched me...and I've watc
I've been trying to write a blog post over the last few days, but haven't had much motivation. Just as there is no try, no blog came forward either. Today's keiko was a lot of fun though and I think it has provided the impetus for me to write an account of my training this week.
The last several evenings I've been practicing between 30 minutes and an hour, trying to focus on breath and movement as well as loosening up my hips and wrists. I've been feeling rather tight and beginners' keiko on thursday reinforced this idea. I reverted into the older style of ai hanmi katate tori during the demonstration of waza and had a hard time pulling it together (forgot the correct attack for what we've been working on, in other words), and I just felt really stiff and not real responsive. Still, it was good to get thrown around, and I always can stand a reminder for how quickly things can tighten up.
My plum tree finally has some plums on it that didn't either fall off too soon or rot on the branch so I brought a bunch to offer to kamisama. I've come to really enjoy sharing what I get from my garden. I don't always have much in the way of money and while sensei has alway been very magnanimous about this, I always feel a little better about it when I have something extra to offer to the jinja, slight though it may be.
The weather was perfect, as has been so often the case this summer, so we headed outside to train. We went down to the river and waded across to the little island. The
My "nightly" practices have flagged a bit. After a series of birthdays, camping trips, and a few different kinds of employment-related stress, I've noticed I haven't been as gung ho to go out and practice. This week I've been a bit better though. The last few nights I've practiced for about an hour each; I've also been trying to make it a point to think more about how I'm using my body throughout the day. The night before last, I was going at it more vigorously than I thought because last night certain muscles in my chest were sore. It's related to the way I tend to cut with my left arm; I tend to squeeze/slide my humorus against my body...probably with too much muscle tension?
Last night and the night before I tried to focus on balancing the left and right sides of my chest and shoulders, which seemed to relax my neck so it felt more like it was a helmet balancing on a stick (the image I try to have in mind). Barrish Sensei has told me a few different times that one feeling I should strive for is to be ready to head-butt aite at any moment. This means (and/or seems to mean) relaxing the upper torso and generally "sitting back" in my posture a bit more. So for a while I tried to do suburi with this feeling of activating my upper spine and head; experimenting a little with shomenuchi and yokomenuchi strikes. I tried little rotations of the head while doing this to see how it affected the line(s) of tension. As usual, I thought I saw some interesting dynamics, but not quite s
Today was a gorgeous day! I arrived early so quietly made my way to the changing room as Chyohai (daily ceremony) was finishing up. I helped put away the "shrine stuff" and sweep the mat before stretching and lightly warming up for keiko. We went outside because of the wonderful weather; down to the river. An island of river rocks was formed by the low river, so we kicked off our sandals and shoes and waded through the cool water to the small island before beginning an abreviated warm-up. Sensei went through a few different sequences of movements. They still feel very new to me, but slowly, bit by bit, I feel more familiarized with the different parts. I had a great time barefoot and swinging a stick around. You definately notice your feet more! The cool water was even more refreshing on the way back to the haiden.
There was a request for "gyaku hanmi katatetori kokyu ho," and after so much time spent outside we spent the remaining time working on this, first from suwari, then from tachi. I was trying to be mindful of the feeling of wrapping aite's head (how I was thinking of it, at least). I was with a newer student and one of the things that's real nice is that they don't always go where expected...although in this case it was because he was stiffening up. I had control of the situation through superior positioning, but my connection wasn't in full control, so it forced me to be more present in order to make it work. Once I got my partner to start activating the other si
Saturday's keiko was great, as usual. I arrived on time, but feeling a bit out of sorts. I had been up all night with my littlest boy and had received some information that, while not entirely unexpected, was also disconcerting and I carried it around with me a short while. It soon was washed away in sweat and efforts of concentration though.
We went outside for bokuto practice. I've been having a hard time getting the patterns down. I often omit a step or add a step, or get a movement backwards. I suppose it makes sense since the swordwork is mostly quite new to me. It was a lot of fun though. I paired up with the current uchideshi, who is pretty new to Aikido as far as I know, but he was able to remind me of a couple things I forgot.
Once we went back inside for taijutsu we worked on kansetsu waza, doing a continuous sequence of flowing into ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, yonkyo, gokyo, and rokkyo from an ai hanmi seigan initiating point. We then focused on rokkyo from an uraken attack. Periodically sensei would stop us to focus on some aspect or another. For the uraken, in this instance at least, the point wasn't to deliver a devastating blow, but to offset aite's head enough to begin entering into, and controlling, his/her structure. He made the point that someone who is well organized in their attack will be ready to spring into you the moment your hand stops its forward momentum.
We also practiced a rokkyo exercise where we used only one arm to wrap around the attacking a