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Thursday night with Erickson Sensei was fantastic. It was only Sensei, myself, and Matt for all three classes. I called rei for each class...which made me happy in a goofy sort of way. I think I just like shouting in Japanese.
We started with more yoko ukemi. First we did it from squatting, then standing. Then we moved on to doing it from lying on one side and flipping up and over to the other. Bang, slap, roll, stand.
I asked Sensei what to do about breathing. She said some people hold their breath, which could help them prevent having the wind knocked out of them. Personally, she said, she prefers to breathe out at the same time as the slap. I think I prefer her method because the few times I did hold my breath, I seemed to fall harder and bounce. That can't be good.
Tai sabaki toshu was the main technique we focused on after yoko ukemi, katatetori permutations. We did the basic tai sabaki movements back to get the timing and the posturing right, then sumitoshi drops, and then some throws.
Our basic movement was the katatetori grab, and nage pulls their hand into their hara like tekubikosa undo. You tenkan back, then reverse, then step forward, leading uke around. From that point, you either do a throw, the sumitoshi drop, or you cut to tell uke to release, then step back to prepare for the next grab.
Sometimes I still find myself grinning like a fool when I get a technique close to right. I'm sure that's not a bad thing per se, but it breaks my concentrati
Wow. The mats get cold in the dojo. And it was only 50F(10C) outside. What is it going to be like when it's a real winter day in Chicago?
The first class was a beginner class, a perfect segue back after a week away. There was one new student on the mats, and one familiar face from the summer kenshusei program. I was happy to see him back with us.
We did the usual koho tento undo, orenaite, and sumitoshi stuff, making our way to kotegaeshi. While the very new students were working on the techniques, Toyoda Sensei approached John and I, who have a little more experience (but not much by any means) and showed us about threatening atemi to change uke's focus.
All of the sudden, the little fake punches I'd seen in many techniques started to make a bit of sense. You don't actually intend to strike uke, but you're moving their awareness away from their active hand and forcing them to block.
Not only does it make it easier to control the hand you have, uke's balance could be upset with the push of a feather. Ok, well maybe not a feather, but John and I are so new that it totally changed the rules on us. For five minutes or so we kept at it, and every single time we both fell prey to the threat of a fist coming at our face.
It reminded me of magic tricks. You hold the attention of the audience with one hand while the other hand does something naughty or otherwise unseen. Change their focus. Control their minds.
I had a rough week fighting off a scratchy throat, so no time on the mats for me last week. I really wanted to get back to the dojo to see what the results of the tests were, but I was feeling awful and didn't want to spread my germs. I think it was the best decision to stay home and recharge my batteries all weekend.
I'm feeling much better today and am looking forward to training tomorrow evening.
Jordan, you looked great on the mats too. Thanks for that!
Alex, thanks for reading. You're so right, I'm amazed at how the legacy of Toyoda Shihan has spread around the world. To think that one man was able to bring so many people together. I guess shouldn't say "was", I should say "is". He IS able to still bring us all together. Amazing.
Garza Sensei owes me an essay about that seminar. I'll have to get on his back about it! Thanks for sharing the link.
Yesterday morning I woke up at 5am after a night of deep sleep. I was concerned I wouldn't be able to sleep because my kyuu test has been the only thing on my mind lately, but somehow I managed to fall into a very deep sleep.
The day prior I trained at my home dojo, Tenshinkan, and then had a Japanese lesson with Fujii Sensei. She invited me to ride along out to Arlington Heights to the big Japanese marketplace with Garysan and Sachikosan. Garysan is a gaijin in her intermediate class and he was interested in practicing Japanese.
The four of us spent a fun afternoon and evening in conversation with lots of shopping and eating. Perhaps it was the immense quantities of food and Japanese candy I ate, but when I got home Saturday night, I was tired. I stretched, showered, stretched again and went to bed.
Back to Sunday. I woke at 5am and decided more stretching was in order. I did some warm-ups and went for a very short jog to get my head clear and my mind moving.
The city was cool and quiet. The air was very humid but with just enough chill to remind me that indeed, fall is here. I jogged through a couple of my favorite alleys because I like absence of trees. The birds weren't even awake yet but I came across a raccoon digging in a garbage can, a grumbling possum, and a flurry of squirrels running around gathering w
Three more hours yesterday with Erickson Sensei. First class we did kyuu testing work. My katatori ikkyo isn't nearly as smooth as I'd like it while taking uke off balance, but once they are down, I can flow right into the pin softly and balanced. I know I'll be fine on the test, but I don't want to be fine. I want to be great. Prolly just a function of time.
The second class was jo. We did jo kata I, which was impressive because none of the students in the class were above 6th kyu. Yet after twenty minutes we were walking through all 22 steps pretty fluidly. From there we moved into jo dori from primarily shomenuchi attacks.
I'm noticing that the jo and even bokken don't wobble as much at the end as they did when I began. I can't say I'm solid with either, but Erickson Sensei mentioned something that sticks with me. While holding jo or bokken, you should be completedly relaxed everywhere including your hands. The only moment of tension is when you fully enter into the strike.
My shoulders used to hurt a lot after a weapons class, but now that's gone. Relaxing during any technique, weapons or not, is something I'll continue working on for the rest of my life I think. It's hard. It's hard to relax when someone is coming at you.
The last thing she talked about in class was the power of breath during strikes. Not just kiai, but how breathing from your hara sets many things in motion. I understand the concept of one point, but I can't really feel anyt
Last night I trained for the usual triple-play Tuesday classes of three hours. One intro, one mixed, and one weapons class. Erickson Sensei taught in Parks-Casey Sensei's stead for the day, but at the beginning of the mixed class, Toyoda Sensei asked me if I'd be interested in assisting with Erickson Sensei's Thursday classes.
Assisting? Me? I'm only going to take my 7th kyuu test this Sunday.
They assured me that the beginners class would be a perfect place for me to start, as I can take, more or less, all the ukemi the 6-week beginners need to learn. They also said it would be a great way for me to smooth out my ukemi and work on training while helping the new folks out. Naturally I answered with a resounding "Hai, onegaishimasu!"
I'm proud. I'm proud they asked me, and I'm proud I said yes.
This journey in Aikido I'm taking, this learning by falling, only a few months old now, has changed my life in such a short time, I'm wondering what the next year will hold.
My 7th kyuu test is this Sunday, only four days away. Two instructors have given me pre-tests and they are very confident about my testing. It's up to me to polish my movements even more on Thursday and Saturday. The test will be held at Soshinkan dojo in Burbank, IL. I've never been there, but I'm looking forward to seeing the dojo.
I keep dreaming about Aikido. I woke up last night in the middle of a dream where I was wearing a green hakama that had a gol