Just a quick follow-up to this thread from me..
Took my first Kali class yesterday, and I think I'll stick with it.
This school (Kali Sikaran) has a fair bit of focus on boxing, kicking and trapping\throwing\locking in addition to pure weapon practice. Plenty of variety, in other words! On to what happened in yesterdays class....
We started out with some basic punching: Jab, cross and hook on partner's gloves. Then on to combinations, then with moving partner, and finally harder punches on pads. Plenty of things to concentrate on here in my case; especially keeping my guard up and close! This was one thing that I (and the instructor!) constantly had to remind myself of. One funny thing at this point: When they had us moving forwards and backwards, I didn't pay attention to the footwork... so I ended up doing irimi-irimi with each punch ala tsuki during Aikido class, instead of shuffling forwards (tsugi-ashi as we would say) with each jab and cross. The really funny part was this: my strange footwork seemed to noticeably mess with my partner's rhythm and head (she was a newbie too, but with a very solid kickboxing background).
Then on to kicking: very light kicks to partner's forward outer thigh, then inner and outer thighs and shoulders, and finally harder side kicks with partner holding pads. Didn't really know what to do with my hands\guard here, but at least I felt like I kept my balance while kicking.
After this we went on to some light sparring without the gloves, using calm kicks and punches. This bit was fun but very challenging. I had to constantly focus on "getting in there" with punches and kicks, instead of keeping maai and drawing the partner out (this is my natural response). I felt more than a bit helpless. Also, a bit of an eye-opener for me, since we usually don't play around with "proper sparring" at my Aikido dojo- even outside of regular classes.
Then we went on to some basic trapping\locking: we worked on deflecting an initial jab, counter-attacking\punching and then applying ikkyo, kinda. Well, more like ikkyos big bully brother. This version was applied by gripping the wrist, and pushing or punching directly against his straight elbow joint with my forearm, fist closed. A wee bit less "gentle" than how I'm used to doing it. We then practiced using a lock to follow up a failed ikkyo, by folding ukes arm inwards and pinning his hand like in shiho-nage. Hard to describe. Looked like something I've seen in Hapkido, I think. Not sure.
At this point in class I had some trouble initially because my Aikido interfered with their version of the technique. This really drove home the point I've seen many make regarding cross-training: keep 'em separated! Will have to work on stowing away specific Aikido stuff during Kali practice!
A brief interlude doing pushups then followed. Well, what can I say? Upper-body strength isn't exactly something I've focused on during Aikido practice, naturally.... First 30 (I managed 24), then 15 (I managed 6 or 7), then 7 (I did maybe 2 or 3 very half-assed ones (more like one-eights-assed ones!)). Chuckles all round in the room, since I wasn't the only one who had trouble completing the sets.
In the final half hour of the class we went on to the "dessert" of the class: weapons practice! This basically consisted of pairing up with a single stick each, taking turns attacking, being disarmed, then disarming and attacking again. At this point things felt very natural, my Aikido "backbone" seemed to help more than interfere; get off the line either inside or outside of the attack, then circular movements and use of tegatana to disarm the partner. So I suppose principles were similar, but specific movements different enough to avoid that my Aikido bubbled up and interfered.
Initially learning the movements was fairly easy, and we got into a steady rhythm of disarming, attacking, disarming. This continuous flow was very nice; doing the same thing with jo at our Dojo usually has some more "dead time", perhaps because we often roll away from a disarm involving throws, and we usually "reset" the distance\ma-ai between each go. This might just be how our dojo does aiki-jo, though. We finally followed each disarm up with a nasty head lock on partner using the newly disarmed stick.
I have to say I had a very good time yesterday. It felt very fresh being a complete beginner again. Much easier to attend practice with "an empty cup" mind if you actually don't have ANY experience with the material!
Punching, kicking and sparring was and will be a challenge, but something I sorely need. I expect to gain some more insight into where I'm open in my technique during regular Aikido class, once I get more experience with how, where and when a fist or a foot can come whizzing through... The instructors seem competent and friendly, and the "mood" (can't think of a better word) during practice was serious but calm. Oh, and I'm sore in new and interesting muscles today!
So the conclusion? I'll stick with Kali, and see where it takes me. Initially twice a week, then maybe scale down to once a week once I have at least some basics down pat.
PS: I'm considering starting an aikiweb blog in order to document my further experiences with the crosstraining...
I'll give a shout in this thread if I follow through with the blog plan.