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Old 10-16-2009, 11:13 AM   #1
Cannea
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Training Alone

Hi Everyone.

My dojo (Yoshinkan Aikido) is rather far away from my house (1.5 hours away) but it is close to where I spend most of my days. Sometimes like this week I have other obligations that I have to meet so I have to stay at home and I can't make it to the dojo. I was wondering if there are techniques or exercises for Aikido that you could practice on your own. Any suggestions?

Cheers,
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:35 AM   #2
Rob Watson
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Re: Training Alone

Suburi is good. Aiki taiso is good. Rest and reading are good too. Anything to improve balance (or rather finding the edge of imbalance) is good too.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:45 AM   #3
Suru
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Re: Training Alone

Quote:
Robert M Watson Jr wrote: View Post
Suburi is good. Aiki taiso is good. Rest and reading are good too. Anything to improve balance (or rather finding the edge of imbalance) is good too.
I think this is great advice. I wish I knew more taiso.

Drew
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:56 AM   #4
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Training Alone

I often will go through the movements of a technique with an Imaginary partner and really focus on things like foot work and lowering myself as these are my weak points.

Also tenkan practice, Tenkan in 4 directions, low Ukemi.

Read all the books I can get my hands on and view DVD's on the subject as I can get copies on loan or bought.

Heck I find I even practice in my dreams and am often caught daydream practicing when I have a spare moment.

Yeah I'm maybe a bit addicted.
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Old 10-16-2009, 06:36 PM   #5
Steve Sakahara
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Re: Training Alone

Here's one of the better posts I've read about training alone. It's written by John Connolly, and posted on our TNBBC blog, www.ourbadbudo.blogspot.com. It works well if you're doing solo exercises like shikko, mabu and tenchijin and examining how they apply to waza. Well, they really are the waza, but that's in other threads.

Actually, it kind of blew me away the first time I read it, but then, you've got to know John.

Quote:
Getting the Most Out of It

I have been training with my dojo, the TNBBC, and under my teacher, Neil Yamamoto since 2002. But that doesn't mean I've always been able to train with them consistently. I took a half a year off to travel, and about 3 & ˝ years ago, I moved 80 miles away from the training hall, knocking my training time down to once a week at best. How the heck do I keep up with my fellow deshi, and improve?

Well, I'll tell ya: The secret is solo training and focus and retention when one has the opportunity to train with others.

When I'm in the dojo: I do my best to "get" what's being taught. I also attempt to understand how it works into previous techniques or lessons. Doing this allows me to create a system of understanding techniques based on principles and proper body mechanics, rather than trying to remember tons of disparate rote movements (such as "twist arm here, apply pressure here", etc.).

I'm also lucky to have a very generous group of martial artists to study with. They don't let me fake or muscle my way through techniques, and they offer observances and advice from their view on how certain techniques, etc. should be performed. Often this leads to a clue to something I was missing. They act as editors to my process and I do the same for them. We push each other to success with criticism, observations, and applied resistance-- we don't baby each other into delusion with over-cooperation and ego stroking false ukemi.

The dojo can be overwhelming, in terms of revelations and new understandings of mechanics, etc. So, I try to retain what I believe was the focus of that day's training. Sometimes I'm able to "get" several new or previously misunderstood things at once, but I don't beat myself up if I don't. There's always the next time.

I would also say that in terms of acquiring this knowledge, I don't worry too much about immediate perfection or total understanding, but rather I focus on relating how it fits with the spectrum of previous teachings, with body structure, similarities to movements or alignments of the body or ways to generate power.

I have a few categories of understanding martial stuff (techniques, power generation, principles, body mechanics, etc.):

1. I understand it fully. It is part of my body's response. I can perform it AND teach it to others.

2. I understand it somewhat. I can do it most of the time and I can talk about it, but I'm still unsure of what's missing or why I can't always perform.

3. I understand the concept, at least enough to begin to develop it in my body and to talk about.

4. I am at a loss to fully grasp the concept, and am working on wrapping my brain around it.

5. It is an unheard of concept or one that is so far from #1 or #2 that I am withholding judgment until I feel it or see it.

With each new thing I learn, I try to relate it to a #1 or #2 concept, to try to distill the principle and the engine behind it. This has been a very successful way of working for me. It has allowed me to take many different types of martial arts I have learned over the years and have the muscle memory of them stay in my body, because I'm always working them in to a whole concept, using the same "engine" to drive them (doesn't mean they all have the same effect or purpose, but it's the best way I've found to fully synthesize these things within myself). With weekly practice at the TNBBC, I attempt to do the same thing, breaking down each new item into its parts and trying to see how they fit into a #1 or #2 model—how are these things driven, by what common power/structure/angle/motion? It is this kind of reverse engineering that enables my ability to build and improve my skill set.

At home or when traveling: I take the distilled concept or skill and practice it. Sounds simple enough, right? It is, but it doesn't end there.

Visualization is the key. I remember the distinct point of clarity from the lesson in the dojo, and I relive the motion/moment over and over in my mind. I do it at work. I do it in the shower. I do it while cooking dinner.

Most importantly, I do it while performing tanren/chi gung/solo conditioning exercises and while shadowboxing techniques. When I was a kid, I would move and practice hard for the sheer joy of movement and enjoy the strenuous and flowing exercises, but it took me longer to improve, because I didn't have the right combination of visualization, conceptual and mechanical understanding AND body performance. Now, I will take each technique or motion and break it down to tiny bits, working on each one as its own important thing, stressing to myself what was significant about each part, what tied it to a #1 or # 2 concept. I do the same thing with structural exercises, even ones in which the posture is just held static. I use my mind the whole time I'm using my body, analyzing, "What should this feel like? Where should there be tension/relaxation?" etc.

I shadowbox techniques a lot, meaning I perform a technique or part of it, without an uke. This is a vital part of learning for me, and has helped me to correct lots of aspects of my abilities/structure. What is important to do in shadowboxing a technique is to fully engage the mind with the body. Don't just go through the motions. A shadowboxed technique should be as engaging and demanding as any tanren/chi gung/solo conditioning exercise. I have made great leaps in understanding previously misunderstood stuff from my technical lexicon by obsessively trying to relate every bit of shadowboxed techniques to previous revelations, and to correct myself until I could perform well vs. realistic resistance. I also shadowbox techniques in my mind, when not able to practice physically. Believe it or not, I know this has helped me greatly in my ability to break concepts down and understand more fully what I'm doing, as well as help improve the performance of my technique.

And then I take this stuff back to the dojo with me to try out my understanding/ability. I get feedback and tweak what needs fixing. The cycle continues, and I continually upgrade #5s, #4s, and #3s to #2s and #1s.

To sum up, my key to being able to learn more completely and usefully from teachers who are far away, from seminars, from skill share sessions, and to rework "old" techniques from my repertoire is this:

Focus

Break it down

Recognize patterns

Recognize concepts that are shared

Visualize

Practice with intent

Get feedback

Repeat.

Posted by John Connolly at 12:34 PM 0 comments

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Old 10-17-2009, 03:54 AM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Re: Training Alone

IMHO, do all the warm up exercises as solo training with a focus on staying relaxed, breathing, structural alignment, moving from your center, visualizing the application, and repeating its correct name.

Also, irimi-tenkan over and over again.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 10-17-2009, 09:10 AM   #7
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
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Re: Training Alone

There are a lot of very important solo training exercises that can/should be done every day. Dan Harden, Mike Sigman, Ark,... have whole routines that can be done to help develop Aiki.

In addition to my set of solo exercises, I will go through techniques (like shadow boxing) focusing on how I am moving internally and externally.

Marc Abrams
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Old 10-17-2009, 09:17 AM   #8
aikishihan
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Re: Training Alone

You never train alone. You will always have yourself to train with, the one you should choose to train with as often as you can. You will never find a better, or more important training partner than yourself.

Using a mirror is crucial. A mirror never lies. A mirror gives you the instant feedback you need to correct your movements, your posture and your zanshin.

Using a mirror in my training is both a favorite training method, as well as a crucial one in my training. There are no distractions, and I can take all the time I want to work on my weak points (too many to count).

Whether using weapons, or simply tai sabaki (body movements) exercises like tai no henko, or eight directions foot movements, seeing yourself in a mirror can be both enlightening and impact laden.

Full range of motion isometric and isotonic recreation of aikido movements can also be enligthtening and beneficial.

Finally, take ownership of your training, trust the Aiki within you, and allow yourself the joy of self discovery and growth.

In Oneness
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Old 10-17-2009, 09:09 PM   #9
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Training Alone

Sebastian,
What group do you train with?
If your a Yoshinkan stylist you should be familiar with Kihon Dosa. In my opinion there is nothing more important to Yoshinkan techniques than developing kihon dosa. You can practice it sotai dosa, with partner, with a non-aikidoka who just needs to put a little weight against your arm/hand while you go through the movements. Your teacher should be able to show you kihon dosa with a partner (there is a specific way to do it...or you can youtube it).

As others said, weapons forms are great solo practice. But practice weapons correctly as they translate to technique.

ukemi as well.

good training,
Adam

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 10-17-2009, 09:34 PM   #10
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Training Alone

Here is a link to some kihon dosa.
Includes kyu ju go do kaiten (95 deg ppivot); hyaku hachi ju do kaiten (180 pivot), hiriki no yosei ichi (elbow power 1) and a hyaku hachi ju do (fumikomi tenoshita kuguri) renzoku (180 pivot, cross step duck under arm, continuation)...both in tandoku and sotai dosa. There is a kanren waza with 95 deg pivot being applied as sokumen iriminage (I learned kanren waza from kyu ju go do kaiten as hiji ate, but train any way you want...ask teacher for clarification).

here you go:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNbiiKpuv8k

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 10-17-2009, 10:18 PM   #11
Nafis Zahir
 
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Re: Training Alone

I would say weapons and taiso exercises.

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Old 10-19-2009, 07:10 AM   #12
Dazzler
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Re: Training Alone

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
There are a lot of very important solo training exercises that can/should be done every day. Dan Harden, Mike Sigman, Ark,... have whole routines that can be done to help develop Aiki.

Marc Abrams
.... where are those important solo training exercises? are they on the net somewhere?

I'm sure I'm not the only one that has a genuine interest in seeing some of Dans stuff...not because I want to rubbish it but because he puts out some very interesting posts which promise a lot.

If I recall correctly Dan hasn't been that bothered about sticking his stuff on the net to date but there have been a lot of posts espousing solo training.

So having teased me yet again with mention of this training....have you got some examples ? visual or even descriptions would be a start...

genuinely interested.

D
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:34 AM   #13
jss
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Re: Training Alone

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote: View Post
.... where are those important solo training exercises? are they on the net somewhere?
It's not what exercises you do, it's how you do them. Otherwise all dojos practicing the aiki taiso (or similar) would have internal skills. But if you do a search on 'aunkai' on youtube, you'll find some exercises. And some more information and two dvds on http://www.aunkai.net/eng/. I don't know of any videos of Dan Harden's of Mike Sigman's practice routines.
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:03 AM   #14
Dazzler
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Re: Training Alone

Quote:
Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
It's not what exercises you do, it's how you do them. Otherwise all dojos practicing the aiki taiso (or similar) would have internal skills. But if you do a search on 'aunkai' on youtube, you'll find some exercises. And some more information and two dvds on http://www.aunkai.net/eng/. I don't know of any videos of Dan Harden's of Mike Sigman's practice routines.
Fully understand that ...and have been on the aunkai website for a butchers.

I'll take another look when I'm not at work but I don't recollect seeing anything there that I thought "hey I'll start doing that".

Dan has posted regularly - and a lot of others have endorsed his stuff. (and Mikes too...)

I really want a look to see if theres something there that i can steal.
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:18 AM   #15
Marc Abrams
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Re: Training Alone

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote: View Post
.... where are those important solo training exercises? are they on the net somewhere?

I'm sure I'm not the only one that has a genuine interest in seeing some of Dans stuff...not because I want to rubbish it but because he puts out some very interesting posts which promise a lot.

If I recall correctly Dan hasn't been that bothered about sticking his stuff on the net to date but there have been a lot of posts espousing solo training.

So having teased me yet again with mention of this training....have you got some examples ? visual or even descriptions would be a start...

genuinely interested.

D
Daren:

My daily, solo activities include: (other stuff as well)
1) Ikkyo-undo
2) Funakogi-undo
3) Ude-Fure Undo
4) Tenkan-undo
5) Ude--Oroshi undo
6) Ashi Sabaki work (ayumi ashi, okuri ashi, & tsugi ashi)
7) kata from Shindo-Ryu
8) Dan's stuff ( I do not know enough to talk intelligently about it, nor do I have Dan's permission to talk about it on this forum).

Marc Abrams
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:28 AM   #16
Dazzler
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Re: Training Alone

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
8) Dan's stuff ( I do not know enough to talk intelligently about it, nor do I have Dan's permission to talk about it on this forum).

Marc Abrams
Thanks. Will continue to wait patiently.
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:47 AM   #17
MM
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Re: Training Alone

Basic exercise that we used to do at the very beginning of training. Remember, these exercises should be intent driven and not a lot of physical (ex. shoulder blades coming together), but when I first started, I couldn't manifest the right intent and used more physical. In time, I started using more intent and less physical.

Arms:

Stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms straight out to the sides, fingers pointing out. Now, imagine with intent that you are sending energy out your arms and fingers. Physically, you should be attempting to touch the walls some distance away. If the room is small, you should be using intent to push through the walls and go beyond them.

In the very beginning of doing this, I found myself very physically pushing out. So much so that my arms felt like they were being pulled out of my shoulder sockets. Not only did it ache and give pain, but my fingers would go numb, too. I can't stress enough that at this very beginning point, I was 99% muscle. Slowly over time, that muscle relaxed and intent took over. So, if this is new, you're going to use muscle. In the beginning, that's okay. You try to relax shoulder muscles in small increments as you do the exercise.

Back to the exercise. So, the out is very physically challenging, keeping that level of effort going outwards so that I feel - literally- like my arms are being ripped from my sockets. Then, I try to bring energy inwards and again, at the beginning, it was all physical. My shoulder blades, did, in fact, come together all the time. And yes, this, too, was uncomfortable.

Normally, I would get the intent-out going and then have to drop it to get the intent-in going. I think it was a couple of months of this kind of practice before I relaxed enough to get both going at the same time. Not for long and not all the time, but it was a start.

The one thing that shows you are on the right track is the overheating and sweating aspect. You have to have the intent going a lot. Sometimes when I'm standing there, with my arms out to my sides, I try to get my intent going so that I'm reaching out to touch the walls some 9 feet away and if the intent is done right, I'll start overheating and beads of sweat start on my head somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute. This is a must. If you aren't actually physically overheating *and* either starting to sweat or sweating, you aren't doing anything right.

Spine:

Your head is being pulled up by a hook that's attached near the top-back part of the head. Follow the spine up through your head and that's where the hook is located. Your chin naturally sort of tucks, but do *not* tuck the chin on purpose. Make sure head is over neck and not leaning forwards. The spine is being pulled upwards. In the beginning, this will cause you to lift the heels, but not until the spine feels stretched out. Yes, physically, you will get taller as you do this. Also you'll feel like the spine is pulling the back of your leg muscles right below butt right before the spine starts pulling the heels up.

Once you are this point, start having the heels pull your head down. But do *not* lose the upwards intent. This will really stretch your spine out. Also, adding to that, use intent to imagine a 40-60 pound weight hooked to your scrotum (I think that's the right word) area and the weight is pulling your spine down into the ground.

Then, while those two intents are going, pull the spine together with intent. When I do the pull spine together part, I feel like I'm sinking, but at the same time, I don't feel like my head is sinking. It either feels like it's staying at the same level or going up.

As with above, you should be overheated and starting to sweat (or already sweating) within a minute. If not, you aren't doing it right. If you're overheating and starting to sweat, you're on the right track but not necessarily doing it completely right.
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:53 AM   #18
Dazzler
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Re: Training Alone

Thanks Mark.

I'll be giving that a whirl.

Not sure about attaching that weight though ;-)
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:44 AM   #19
MM
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Re: Training Alone

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote: View Post
Thanks Mark.

I'll be giving that a whirl.

Not sure about attaching that weight though ;-)
yeah, not keen on doing that either.

If anyone can get that solo exercise going without using a lot of muscle, then try doing it within the aiki taiso. If you're doing it right, you're going to overheat and sweat within a minute. And then another definition of "warm-up exercises" emerge.
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Old 10-28-2009, 05:41 PM   #20
Lyle Bogin
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Re: Training Alone

I use a tennis ball suspended from the ceiling by a rope for practicing irimi and tenkan. Use it as an attacker.

"The martial arts progress from the complex to the simple."
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Old 10-29-2009, 06:10 PM   #21
Conrad Gus
 
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Re: Training Alone

I live a LONG way from my home dojo. Aside from my teaching schedule, I have some solo training techniques (take 'em or leave 'em):

Meditation
Pranayama (basically ki techniques stolen from yoga)
Suburi (jo and bokken)
Techniques with "Pretend" uke
Misogi
Norito
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Old 10-30-2009, 10:59 AM   #22
Pat Togher
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Re: Training Alone

Mark,
Interesting set of exercises! They are based on the internal stuff that's often discussed in the other arts section, right? Dan's stuff or similar? I need to see someone do these to wrap my head about how they work, tho. The words just are not enough for me. Perhaps Ark's videos would help.

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Also, adding to that, use intent to imagine a 40-60 pound weight hooked to your scrotum (I think that's the right word) area and the weight is pulling your spine down into the ground.
Sacrum perhaps? The other would be a pretty severe test, I think!

Pat

Last edited by Pat Togher : 10-30-2009 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:28 AM   #23
MM
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Re: Training Alone

Quote:
Pat Togher wrote: View Post
Mark,
Interesting set of exercises! They are based on the internal stuff that's often discussed in the other arts section, right? Dan's stuff or similar? I need to see someone do these to wrap my head about how they work, tho. The words just are not enough for me. Perhaps Ark's videos would help.

Sacrum perhaps? The other would be a pretty severe test, I think!

Pat
Based on, yes. It helped us work through the physical towards intent. If you happen to have two other people to help, try this:

Standing natural, with arms outstretched. One person on each side, holding your wrist. Relax and let each person hold your arms up. Then, have them stretch your arms outwards, away from your body. Enough so that you have a slight physical discomfort, but nothing major. Then, have them stop right there. Tell them not to move their hands at all, either out or back. Your part is to use intent out your arms so that your hand stretches out just a bit more than where the two people are holding your wrist. They loosen their grip but don't move. Their hands are markers for showing how your hand either stays outstretched or comes back inward.

Now, since you have the intent going outwards and hopefully you're relaxed in shoulders, upper body, arm, etc, try using intent to bring some invisible force back into your spine from your outstretched hand. Keep your intent still going outward, though, while you really try to bring your scapulas together (imagining on that part).

For us, in the beginning, we physically had to move our hands outward, physically had to bring our scapulas together, etc. But after a few months, we started using more intent and less physical movement.

Now, imagine having to try to replicate that with the spine.

Um, yeah, Sacrum.
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:33 AM   #24
thisisnotreal
 
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Re: Training Alone

i tried it both ways. i prefer sacrum.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:51 PM   #25
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Re: Training Alone

Very cool stuff, Mark. I will have to try that!

Thanks!
Pat
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