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The Tuesday night triple-play. I'd been at the chiropractor earlier that day and my back was (and thankfully still is) feeling great. I'm not going out of alignment, but my back is snap-crackle-popping a lot. Little things go in and out here and there and he puts them back in place. What I'm concentrating most on now is keeping my posture all the time.
First class was an intro class, so we did some rolling review and a bit of basic nikkyo work. I'm all for the rolling review because the more I roll, the better I get at it. It's funny though, I depend a lot on momentum. My static rolls, from kneeling, aren't very good. That's something to definitely polish.
The nikkyo work was really interesting because Toyoda Sensei said something that really stuck with me. It was a quote from one of his sensei, something to the effect of "Imagine yourself as a piece of long rope. Stay extended. You can shorten a long rope if you need to, but you cannot lengthen a short rope." I've completely murdered the quote, but the point is to maintain extension constantly.
Class two was with Parks-Casey Sensei. We did lots of tai sabaki work from ikkyo forms. I like that kind of stuff because my body really does seem to learn the patterns and the flow of things better than pure technique.
She added a bit of break fall work and an interesting ikkyo technique where you lead uke around by the back of the neck while they are looking at the floor. It's pretty scary not knowing where y
Two classes last night. Toyoda Sensei was filling in for Garza Sensei. I attended because I was scheduled to teach a Japanese lesson after training. I sort of feel that if I'm going to be teaching Japanese to those who are teaching Aikido, I should reciprocate and study with them. Odd if you think about it, but it works.
The first class was the first time I've trained with several students of every color of belt on the mats. Sensei started by demonstrating the technique for the white belts. Then he did a more advanced form for the yellow belts, and then the blue, and finally the brown and yudansha.
From my perspective, it was awesome to see the different approach from all the skill levels to the same technique. One of the women who is just starting out commented on how she too enjoyed seeing the spectrum of applying the technique.
Experiences like that really help give me direction. Setting goals is paramount to anything in life, but Aikido is one of those things that mandates small goals. I can't see myself slapping a date on when I want to achieve, say, a blue belt, or shodan. You really cannot do that in my opinion. Short term, small goals are key; I'd like to think I could test for 5th kyu before the end of next year (yellow with stripe for us) at my current pace. That's a short term realistic goal.
The question I tend to hear most often from the people I talk to Aikido about is "how long does it take to get to black belt?" My answer is always t
Tuesday nights mean one thing; three classes at Tenshinkan. The first was an intro class with some students who had all been there before. We quickly went through some katatetori and katatekosatori techniques before spending a bit of time on sankyo.
Closeness seems to be the key to sankyo. Get in very close and really control the entire arm, thus controlling the entire body. Toyoda Sensei said that if you can see uke get up on their toes a bit, you know you have lots of control. The pin is still a bit of a mystery to me, but it was the first time I really spent any length of time doing sankyo, so that wasn't a bad thing.
At the end of the class we all lined up as a group. One nage was in the center of the mat, and in turn we each attacked. Nage was free to do anything they wanted, as long as uke could perform the ukemi properly.
Intention, intention, intention. That seemed what the lesson was all about. Follow through on what you intended to do, and in fact, try and anticipate, if possible, what uke will do so you can get ready for the technique. I wish we could have done more of that free work. It'll come with time I suppose.
Class two, and the theme for the rest of the evening, was shomenuchi attack. Stepping into shomenuchi and blocking it. Shomenuchi kokyunage and some iriminage. Difficult for me to do, but by the end I was getting the flow of it. The entering motion is udefuri choyaku undo, really flowing into the attack. It's a little
After five hours on the mats in two days, I was a little concerned about spending another three hours training at the dojo. But, and this always happens with me, once I got there, my spirit lifted and I caught the buzz.
That seems to happen from time to time, and I'm not sure why. I'm at work, it's nearing the end of the day. I know my dogi is in my bag, and it's only a short train ride to the dojo, but I second guess myself. "Do I really feel up to it? How's my body doing? Can I make it through n number of classes today"
Of course, stepping into the dojo washes all that doubt away. Once I've got my dogi on, my training mindset clicks into place and I'm happy to be there. I see my friends. I see my sensei. I look at the picture of O Sensei and the photograph of Toyoda Shihan, and I know I chose the right path for the day.
It's kind of a mystery why I second guess myself. Every ounce of my spirit loves training, but there are moments when I ask myself if I really want to do it today.
With only one exception, when I hurt my back, I've always been up for it. Always.
Chicago is playing games with us. We had a surprisingly warm evening last night. The wind blowing off the lake was amazingly refreshing on the way to class. I arrived at the dojo about a half-hour before class and was able to relax and chat a bit with Matt in the office.
Erickson Sensei took us through warm-up exercises and sort of a break-fall roll which we call roll-outs
Last night at the dojo I attended two of Garza Sensei's classes. I don't normally train on Wednesday night, but this was the first night I was going to begin tutoring him in Japanese, so out of respect I trained with him on the mats.
I enjoyed both classes a lot, but I can't remember much of what we did. (I'll explain why in a moment) Having the chance to work with a slightly different set of uke was nice. It always helps to have different body types and skill levels to work with. There was a newly minted blue belt training with me. He was in the very first class I ever attended. I always have enjoyed training with him because he's a really thoughtful nage. He pays attention to you in an intense and friendly way.
At the end of the class, after the final bows, Toyoda Sensei called me to the front of the class to present me with my scroll. As he was reading the scroll in Japanese, my mind completely left the dojo. For a moment I was back in the Sanjusangendo temple in Kyoto. I completely lost touch with everything that was happening around me, just as it happened when I was in the temple earlier this year…
Something connects me with Aikido and Japan. I feel this really strong connection that's haunting and comforting at the same time. My trip earlier this year woke something up inside of me that's been sleeping for a long time.
…I heard hands clapping, and in an instant Toyoda Sensei was presenting me with my scroll and a small AAI booklet. It was almost like whi
Last night two new beginners, my friend Josh and another guy, joined us for the intro class. Orenaite, sumitoshi, koho tento undo, etc. It's really amazing to watch people on their very first day doing technique. I like the pace of Toyoda Sensei's intro classes because during the last fifteen minutes, they're really doing stuff they've never done before, and enjoying it the entire time. Pretty cool to watch them grow right before your eyes.
Over the weekend I'd heard that everyone had passed their kyu tests, but no scrolls were given out yet. There was a lot of whispering when we saw them on the tokonoma, but there they stayed throughout the intro class.
For the second class we did more yoko ukemi practice. I wasn't hurting much this morning when I woke up, which is my signal that I was doing SOMEthing right, whatever it may have been.
Ryotetori tenchinage, both the regular kihon waza and the tenkan versions were on the technique menu for that class. While being uke for the first one, the nage I was with insisted on really throwing me down into the yoko ukemi.
After being pounded twice, and asking to not be pounded again twice more, Sensei came over and told him that what he was actually doing was oyo waza, changing the technique. Apparently he was taught to really throw uke down at the end, instead of letting them bend back, and then falling in yoko ukemi.
Sensei mentioned that she was under the same impression, that there was a real throw at the end, but was