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Old 04-18-2011, 03:37 PM   #22
Keith Larman
Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,604
Re: Dan Harden April 2011 Workshop Santa Ana, CA

Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
A few curious survey questions for people who were at the Santa Ana workshop this past November and this one (Gary, Keith, or anybody else):

How would you rate or describe your own progress since then, based on the feedback you got from this workshop?
I wouldn't go so far as to rate myself. I've been dealing with a very fragile back as well as other health issues for a number of years. So for the last few years I've been operating at a pretty low level at times. Good days, but other days when I'm simply too sore, too beat up, too weak, too inflamed, whatever. And a few weeks before the November seminar I had a slip and fall accident on my mother's brick steps, breaking my tail bone and cracking a couple ribs. So I wasn't exactly feeling all that snazzy last time around. Everything I did hurt into that damned tail bone. Although I will say it gives you remarkable feedback about the fact that your entire body seems to connect to that one point. So this time around I felt a lot better. I still have some pain from the tail bone and I still have problems with my back. So I did slow down at the end of each day as things tightened up and got more painful.

So all that said... I'm not really sure how to gauge things. I was grossly under performing the first time out -- it was intensely frustrating for me because I knew I could do better, but feeling like I had an icepick shoved into my lower back wasn't helping matters. This time out things felt a lot better. I still suck at a lot of stuff, but I *think* I was better able to link things together, to get stuff firing in a better sequence, and generally left me with a new list of things to work on.

So... In terms of my progress I think it is hard to say for myself. I'd think things like that would best be left to Dan and the others who were at both who worked with me at both -- I think we're all usually pretty bad at gauging that sort of things in ourselves.

Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
Do you feel, intellectually, you have an idea what you are training into your body now, and it's just a matter of conditioning it in, or do you still feel there are gaps in your understanding that make the nature of the training's purpose unclear by this point?
Well, I think I have a pretty good idea of where I want to go and what I need to do. But I'll also add that I've also attended a number of workshops with Toby Threadgill and one with Mike Sigman. I also caught George Ledyard up at the Aiki-web seminar a few years ago (along with Aaron Clark and Toby Threadgill-- that was fun -- thanks again, Jun). There are significant differences in approaches and context of all these people, of course, but I've learned a lot due to everything. So *in my case* I felt much more comfortable the second time around with Dan knowing better where he's coming from and how he approaches his teaching and training. It is a good fit for me and I think that is in part due to the heavy influence of Japanese Arts in Dan's background fitting better with my own. I have a similar (although different) feel when training with Toby -- it feels "natural" and comfortable even if it is different from my usual approach. So I have a lot of work to do -- none of this is just "take a seminar -- now you have it". I have been doing a lot of things I"ve learned from everyone mentioned, as health permits.

Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
Relatedly, are you able to manifest the things worked on there now, or was it as much of a struggle as the first time?
For me, a lot of things came more easily but that of course presents new things that don't. So I could do some of the things, sometimes even without massive corrections. But often with corrections. It's like anything else. 0 out of 10 originally. Work hard and get to 1 time in 10. Work a lot harder and you get to 4. Some "easy" things worked out a lot better. The harder stuff is still hard. So yeah, some progress, but that just gives confirmation of how powerful it can be and how much more I have to figure out. That's when you realize that it wasn't really a 10 point scale. And being at a 4 on that scale was really a 4 out of 30. Oops. Better train more...

But this is all good and to me is a sign that I'm learning. I've always trained in this kind of stuff because I'm intensely curious about it. I don't expect it to be easy -- what would the fun of that be? I study it because I know it's hard. And sometimes it's even harder than I realize. That's a good thing.

Chaos. How cool is that?

Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
What sort of broad structural changes have you made to your aikido training to work on the material in the interstice, if any, in terms of the balance of time allotted now to standard aikido practice and bdoy conditioning?
Well, I think I'm an anomaly here as well because I can relate what I've been learning to things I was taught in sword polishing that I never really "grok'ed" until I started learning this stuff from a variety of sources. How to hold the blade for polishing. How the entire body moves the blade although the body doesn't really move (huh?, yeah, I know). Over the last few years I've found that I can work on connections throughout my body doing my polishing, although it makes it a heck of a lot more strenuous at times. I also work alone, at home, and need to take breaks. So I'll find myself going out side and doing what I can in terms of winding exercises as well as others. I'll do my best approximation of some of Toby's exercises (which feel great for my back). I'll work on my approximation of Mike's Universal exercise. And I increasingly feel all seem to work similar pathways in the body, feeling more and more connections over time which make it easier to do them better. So I get a lot of chances to *kind* of work on it, and other chances to really focus on precise exercises I've been shown. So I get to spend more time than most, probably. But I'm sure there are others who are complete fanatics working constantly. There were a few guys there who I think are probably complete maniacs in their training. Especially that skinny Asian guy who kept bouncing around the room. I wish I still had that much energy...

In terms of my aikido training itself, well, in our style we start out with a full run through the aiki taiso before every class. Integrating these understandings in to how I do every single one of those exercises has been a good thing for me. I see the exercises differently now and I think I get much more out of them as well. I also find myself more stable, harder to move, easier to control the uke, easier to get kuzushi on contact, etc. I've also found myself feeling better doing certain techniques due to all the stuff I already listed. Many techniques take on a whole new complexion. I'll also say that I find myself going more on "automatic" now. Things just happen because that's how it works. And I better understand why it was always so hard to explain this stuff. It just is. If you feel it, you feel it. There you go. If you don't have it, well, it's really hard to explain what "it" is.

So how much better in my Aikido? Again, I have no idea -- that's not up to me to say. I just keep training because it's what I like doing. The same reason I go to all these seminars -- I just enjoy training and learning. I feel better overall while training. I feel more in control. I feel I have more power overall. But all that is hard to quantify.

And I'll add that I feel the same way about all my training, IP or otherwise. There is so much to learn. There are so many components and perspectives in to these arts. And so many reasons people do them. So... It's all good.

Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
Wish I could have been there this time, but alas, there's an ocean or two between me and Cali now. I'll settle for a report or two, though.
Sorry you weren't there. I had fun, I sweat a lot, I learned a lot. I have more to work on. It's all good.

Hope it helps.

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