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Old 07-09-2008, 11:53 AM   #1
Diane Stevenson
Location: Arizona
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solo training for centering and extending

I've noticed lately that most of the correction sensei offers me training at our dojo is related to two fundamentals:

1. I tend to lose my connection to my center when leading uke thru a tenkan, or techniques that "cut down". I tend to rotate past my center and so lose my balance and the technique devolves into trying to crank thru on main strength. Wildly ineffective and unsatisfying.

2. Especially during ikkyo or katatedori tenkan, I draw uke too close, or let my elbow collapse, so I lose that dynamic sphere. And again, there is no flow, just pushing and pulling.

I know these are issues that take a lot of time to get really worked out. But, as our dojo only meets 2x a week for training, I'm wondering what I could do solo at home to address these issues so that I can train more effectively during our mat time.

Thanks in advance!
Diane

...not as evil as I could be
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Old 07-10-2008, 08:45 PM   #2
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Bokken suburi

Quote:
Diane Stevenson wrote: View Post
I'm wondering what I could do solo at home to address these issues so that I can train more effectively during our mat time.
Bokken suburi! Practice basic cuts with the bokken - especially the very basic straight cut between jodan kamae and chudan kamae. It will help you focus on your center - and keep your arms extended.

I know no better way of exercising your centering and your arm extension. Because of the two-handed grip, you automatically tend to move your bokken along your central line. And if you flex too much with your arms, you clearly feel that you lose control of the bokken and the cuts get sloppy.
It is also a good way of exercising center breathing.

Stefan Stenudd
My aikido website: http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/
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Old 07-11-2008, 12:05 AM   #3
Aikibu
Dojo: West Wind Dojo Santa Monica California
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Re: Bokken suburi

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
Bokken suburi! Practice basic cuts with the bokken - especially the very basic straight cut between jodan kamae and chudan kamae. It will help you focus on your center - and keep your arms extended.

I know no better way of exercising your centering and your arm extension. Because of the two-handed grip, you automatically tend to move your bokken along your central line. And if you flex too much with your arms, you clearly feel that you lose control of the bokken and the cuts get sloppy.
It is also a good way of exercising center breathing.
Amen! 100 correct Bokken cuts a day will make the center of you stay (centered LOL)!!!

William Hazen
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Old 07-11-2008, 07:59 AM   #4
JamesC
Location: Fayetteville, AR, USA
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

Stefan Sensei...

I love you. lol

The concepts of centralization and extension are among the hardest for me to grasp. I had absolutely no idea of how to practice for either of these outside the dojo.

This is going to help me a ton.

Last edited by JamesC : 07-11-2008 at 08:00 AM. Reason: Grammatical errors
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Old 07-11-2008, 08:52 AM   #5
phitruong
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

I used a bo (6 foot staffs) or something long and heavy. With bo, you can use both hands. bokken tends to be right handed; although, nobody said you couldn't use it left handed. If you use bokken then get something big and heavy, like a suburito or just use a boat oar would work too. or a burito in each hand. Also, don't just swinging it at the air, try hit something hard like a log or a car tire, give you good feedback. almost forgot one more important thing, cut with your body, not just the arms.

Besides cutting, try tski a tree or a wall. if the butt-end hit you in the gut, then you have not extend enough. Saw videos of Chen taiji long pole exercise, looked very interesting. Planning to try that to see how it work.
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Old 07-11-2008, 11:00 AM   #6
Aikibu
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
I used a bo (6 foot staffs) or something long and heavy. With bo, you can use both hands. bokken tends to be right handed; although, nobody said you couldn't use it left handed. If you use bokken then get something big and heavy, like a suburito or just use a boat oar would work too. or a burito in each hand. Also, don't just swinging it at the air, try hit something hard like a log or a car tire, give you good feedback. almost forgot one more important thing, cut with your body, not just the arms.

Besides cutting, try tski a tree or a wall. if the butt-end hit you in the gut, then you have not extend enough. Saw videos of Chen taiji long pole exercise, looked very interesting. Planning to try that to see how it work.
Well actually in my experience just simply cutting with a bokken is best. It's not about hitting something to build your center which may defeat the purpose of such a "beginner" exercise It's about the things Sensei Stenudd mentioned...

You can add to it later if you like But believe or not learning to cut properly with a bokken or ken is a challenge that may take a new student a good long while to do correctly and it has immediate benefits to ones practice.

If I want to see where a student is in their practice I just simply ask them to show me a cut. The Bokken/Ken does not lie.

My Darn Sensei does the same with me! LOL

That is why I cut everyday.

William Hazen
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Old 07-11-2008, 04:41 PM   #7
Diane Stevenson
Location: Arizona
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

Thank you all, for your encouragement! My motivation to continue training with the bokken at home is renewed.

I've slacked off lately due to the weather (110 F and up, here in Phoenix ). But soon it will cool down enough to work hard without fainting.

Domo arigato gozimashita.

...not as evil as I could be
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Old 07-11-2008, 11:26 PM   #8
Shannon Frye
Dojo: Aikido Fellowship of VA / Chesapeake Va
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

Here's some ' everyday' ways I've found to better judge 'centerness':

1. When going through a door, like at McDondalds (not with a door knob), once you make contact with the door, keep yourself relatively the same distance from the door as you pass through. See if you are pushing the door away, allowing it to come close, or moving with the door. *warning - tenkan afterwards gets you looked at strangely!

2. When shopping, keep the cart in front of you at an even spacing. As you walk, don't grab the handle, but rather extend your arms - creating 'your space'. Contact the handle with the knife edge of your hands.

In either example, if you push too hard with either hand, you will see and feel the difference. If you collapse your elbow, you will know. Get used to the feel of a comfortable 'equidistant' arm extension, and you may see your techniques improve. (or at least be more centered through it).

Shannon

"In the end there can be only one"

www.AikidoFellowship.com
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Old 07-11-2008, 11:59 PM   #9
eyrie
 
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

If you're going to push on doors or shopping carts, use your feet and tanden to push so that your tanden is your hand.

Ignatius
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Old 08-01-2008, 01:01 PM   #10
Zach Trent
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
If you use bokken then get something big and heavy, like a suburito or just use a boat oar would work too. or a burito in each hand.
Cool- does it matter what kind of burrito? Is chimichanga a stretch?
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Old 08-01-2008, 01:03 PM   #11
Zach Trent
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
If you're going to push on doors or shopping carts, use your feet and tanden to push so that your tanden is your hand.
Thanks Shannon and Ignatius- I am going to do this from now on! What a great idea!
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Old 08-04-2008, 11:01 AM   #12
Diane Stevenson
Location: Arizona
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

But what about those stupid carts that always pull strongly to the left or right?

...not as evil as I could be
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Old 08-13-2008, 12:28 PM   #13
Centerion
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

Centering, centering is not just physical, but it involves the whole BEING. When you center, yes you move from the center of the body, but more importantly your whole mind, spirit, and action are Total, if you realize what centering IS. I completely agree with the suggestions for suburi daily!!! Hundreds and thousands of cuts per week will definately pay off! I used to use a bokken of oak wood for this, and now I use a live blade for the weight and other reasons. It really doesn't matter if you use a bokken, blade, or even a bat! Make your cuts real and true, cut from your ENTIRE being. That is what centering is, you are not divided. Too many westerners I think, don't realize that the eastern arts such as aikido are not of only a physical dimension. By and large the oriental (India included) ways are dominated by mental and spiritual studies and secondarily by the physical aspect. For that reason the results are less than satisfactory for those who see only the physical counterparts. A centered person will make his/her movements in alignment to the body, mind, and spirit. Personally I do most of my training alone (some, but little with others), for various reasons that are not debateable for me. When I practice suburi (cutting) I cut with an intention to cut down the enemy and also the ego-self, I cut trying to use maximum amount of power and speed with less and less strain or strength of muscle. It may sound weird, but I try to cut as if this is "a way of worship or service to God", with that mindset you are aiming at entering your entire self into it. I try to allow my being or centeredness make each cut. So when cutting, or in your case aikido techniques, try to allow and surrender the whole-being into the action, when I say BEING, I mean your entire person both the inside and out of you. Try this simple exercise: Stand erect, move to your right or left, when you move turn from the center, allow every body part to turn with the center in unison, also only have the mind in this movement, don't be thinking of other things, with the spirit (inner of you) feel the essence of you also move, it should feel as if you are completely resolved and satisfied in the movement with NO divisions found anywhere of you! When you are back in school training weekly you will notice great change! If you would like to learn a bit more please visit: http://www.onlyoneexists.ws

Thanks for reading this.
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Old 08-19-2008, 03:53 PM   #14
Diane Stevenson
Location: Arizona
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

Quote:
When you are back in school training weekly you will notice great change! If you would like to learn a bit more please visit: http://www.onlyoneexists.ws

Thanks for reading this.
Thanks for your response, Centerion. I did check out your website. Very interesting indeed.

Your reccomendations on training really resonate with my personal reasons for training in MA and in Aikido specifically. I have found that I need a discipline for uniting mind/body/spirit, and I am finding that the mindset that is needed to persevere in physical training is bringing me to my knees more often before my Lord, too.

...not as evil as I could be
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Old 09-04-2009, 12:07 AM   #15
AikidokaCupu
Dojo: Enryukai Bandung
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Do symbol Re: Bokken suburi

Quote:
Stefan Stenudd wrote: View Post
Bokken suburi! Practice basic cuts with the bokken - especially the very basic straight cut between jodan kamae and chudan kamae. It will help you focus on your center - and keep your arms extended.

I know no better way of exercising your centering and your arm extension. Because of the two-handed grip, you automatically tend to move your bokken along your central line. And if you flex too much with your arms, you clearly feel that you lose control of the bokken and the cuts get sloppy.
It is also a good way of exercising center breathing.
sensei i've tried that method but i feel no progress with it.. did i was wrong in using the bokken or maybe my stance are bad?

any tips regarding this method sensei?

thx
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:42 AM   #16
eyrie
 
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Re: Bokken suburi

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Edwin Lungun wrote: View Post
sensei i've tried that method but i feel no progress with it.. did i was wrong in using the bokken or maybe my stance are bad?

any tips regarding this method sensei?

thx
Yeah, you not doing it enough... Not really...

To be honest, what Phi said is better than the tired old mantra of "just do suburi"... coz "just do suburi" doesn't actually tell you HOW to do it... AND there is NO feedback which is what your body requires in order to learn.

So, get an old car tire and rig it up like a tyre swing - top of tyre just below head height is fine. Practice hitting it. NOT hard, just let the weight of the suburito do the work. Lift the suburito up with your legs and middle. Go for high-rep, low-intensity. Coordinate in-breath with lift up, exhale with cut. Use the rebound force off the tyre as a way to train absorbing the forces into your body. You'll really know when your cuts start to get sloppy.

If your arms, or shoulders tire quickly, you're using too much arm strength. Arms sore => BAD... it means you're doing it wrong.

You should feel it in your middle, particularly around the ribcage and lower back, and your legs and feet. BTW, the soreness is not muscle soreness - it should be deeper, like in your tendons, ligaments and bones.

And then there is slightly more advanced stuff...

Ignatius
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Old 09-06-2009, 07:23 AM   #17
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Re: Bokken suburi

Quote:
Edwin Lungun wrote: View Post
sensei i've tried that method but i feel no progress with it.. did i was wrong in using the bokken or maybe my stance are bad?
any tips regarding this method sensei?
Well, it's hard to say when I don't know in what way you sense no progress. Maybe you need to straighten your posture, or work more focused on your breathing?
I would say that you should not worry too much about the exact technique of it, but make it an expression of spirit. Pretend that your bokken is much longer than its actual size, and that your breathing encompasses the whole dojo. In other words, get into it

Stefan Stenudd
My aikido website: http://www.stenudd.com/aikido/
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Old 09-08-2009, 02:36 AM   #18
mjhacker
 
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Re: solo training for centering and extending

Diane,

Hit me up off-line. I'm back in the Valley and may be able to offer some help.

Michael

Michael Hacker
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http://renshindojo.com/

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