Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to share my favorite Christmas song with everyone. I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas.

"It is my heart-warm and world-embracing Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage (every man and brother of us all throughout the whole earth), may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss...." - Mark Twain

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Aikido ice cream cones

I made it to class today!!

Warm-up was pretty vigorous this morning. Pat and a new student ( i figured i'd forget his name by the time i sat down to write this...i was right) had already been doing Judo when i got there so to catch up quick i got to participate in something new. Setting the crash pad between them, i was thrown back and forth between the two of them like a human game of pong.

It worked 'cause i warmed up reaaaaal quick. It was fun though.

We did a single rep of tegatana and then a few reps of hanasu. It's nice to know after all this time i still need work on hanasu (not meant to sound bad). I have a real problem with 2 and 4 in the kata. Something about the way we sidestep and move directly behind uke i still haven't grasped yet. I can do the motions but it just doesnt feel natural.

As we did the first motion of hanasu Pat talked about the distinction between small circular motion and big circular motion when it comes to moving behind uke's arm. As we sidestep from the grab pushing out our arm in front of us then moving behind the arm it will create either a small conical motion, i.e. a small ice cream cone (in mokuren dojo lexicon) or a large conical motion, i.e. a large ice cream cone (see previous).

The smaller ice cream cone seems to me to be less effective for the first motion. When i did them this morning most of the time it caused uke's arm to break from a straight armed position to bend at the elbow. I think this has happened most of the time i've ended up with the smaller cone. The larger ice cream cone keeps uke's arm straight the entire time and just simply works better.

Who doesn't prefer a larger cone of ice cream anyway? Wakka Wakka.

The main bulk of today's class was aigame ate and the variations there of. A while back there was a discussion between Pat and John over aigame ate that you might want to check out. As we worked on it i couldn't quite remember why John thought the way he learned it in Seattle was different. The way we do it at Pat's is the same, and we've been doing that for years. =)

The only thing that might cause aigame ate to appear different is how uke responds to the initial off balance. In one version as tori sidesteps the attack to put uke's momentum in the hole caused by where his legs have ended up uke might spin around so tori would have to step to follow with him. The other version is when uke's momentum causes him to keep walking around to the right (or left depending on which way tori was attacked) until he finds a position to stop and confront tori, where he proceeds to get creamed.

We worked on oshi taoshi and a few variations of it. I needed to get reminded to side step instead of eating up a bunch of energy as i and uke spins apart.

Anyhoo, it was a great class and i've pretty much been jazzed up by it all day. Long absences make one forget just how much fun aikido is. I was having fun and maybe it showed today, Pat said my aikido was pretty good today. I'll take his word for it this time around, a bunch of stuff just seemed to be clicking right today. Can't wait to trek back after the holidays.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Give some advice!

Yeah, i haven't posted in a while. It's been a while since i've been to class. One of those things. But if you happen to read this you should go here and check out my buddy John's blog. He's teaching aikido up in Seattle, WA and if you can think of any kind of advice or ideas that would help him out as he gets his classes underway would be awesome. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just some pics.

This is from the Aiki-buddy weekend. Just a few pics where i'm not looking terrible.

Group shot.

I thought i had killed him.

Lightening strikes, and it'll never happen again.

Heel instead of toe, d'oh!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Thought of the night

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. - Edmund Burke

Monday, November 03, 2008

A week of aikido

Last week from the 27th to the 1st of November I was at Pat's for the 3rd Annual Aiki Buddy Gathering. John and I were there the first four days for some extra practice at 5am and 6pm with plenty of open mat practice and sleep in between.

The first 9 sessions we had focused on synchronization with uke as tori diffused their attack. The 8 motions of Hanasu and the 23 techniques of Nijusan were broken down, relaxed, tweaked, and repeated often. The chains, which are combinations of two to three of the things from either Hanasu or Nijusan, we went through a few times to give us the chance to continue to avoid uke while staying in sync with his motions no matter where uke chooses to go. I got plenty of practice for my Ikkyu demo.

The sessions from 10 on were the actual Gathering classes devoted to the knife sets of Rokukata, knife randori, and simply adapting your aikido to the idea that even an unarmed opponent is as dangerous as a knife wielding one. It puts a much more fine tone to your movements, making them sharper (pardon the pun).

My ikkyu demo pretty much rocked the casbah thanks to Chops, one of the Starkville students. I missteped on one move because my mind simply blanked during the setup as to wich one i was doing next. The rest of it flowed really well and we went slowly enough to show how each technique worked. The q&a from Pat and Dr. Usher was pretty cool. I think i could have pulled off a shodan demo rather well if i had had the hours to do i'm really looking forward to the real deal sometime next year. Not saying i deserve a shodan or anything, i just think i've gotten decent at aikido. Let me have my delusions. Oh, and for long time readers my ukemi is no longer a problameo, i can roll!

My best bud John got his Shodan over the weekend and was pretty overwhelmed when Pat handed him his own black belt. It's definately something he'll always remember.

All in all i had a blast. Between all the training and crashing on the floor in the dojo to hanging out with the MSU crowd it was a pretty great week to spend hanging out with John before he headed off to Washington state. My aikido has improved and i'm looking forward to all the things i learn in the future.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Presidential Judo

Granted Dojo Rat beat me to it, but here's the video! Vladimir Putin doing Judo:

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Questions redux.

So a while back i asked "Does anyone know how to make the world a better place? Can it be done? Is it vain to try?"

I got a good number of replies. I haven't really mentioned it since, but its has still been in the background noise of my thoughts since and it seems to gain more attention every time i get attacked by the media in another scare tactic.... be it non-existent money bailouts or my least favorite of topics lately politics.

In my own vanity i have decided to make the world a better place. How, you ask? I have no idea, but this article has some pretty good ideas. When i came across it i wanted to share. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The motion and the moves.

Aikido class this morning was pretty straightforward. We did a couple reps of tegatana, did a rep or two of hanasu between myself and the other student whose name escapes me at the moment. We moved on to nijusan after hanasu and though i can "do" through 1-10 of the kata there is still a need for some tweaking of each one of the techniques. I've got to try and not only produce the correct techniques but also instill each of the higher principles.

For example, as we moved on to the 11th and 12th techniques, kote hineri and kote gaeshi, it was shown that though i was getting the arm turned and the wrist torqued my hand placement was off so i wasn't really getting the full effect.

It's the little stuff that makes the difference. Most of the way through class today i wasn't syncing up well with the resistance i was getting and so most of the things i was trying to attempt were not coming out smooth at all. It kinda bothered me but it's just something i'll have to work with to be both a better tori and a better uke.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2 for 1

Pat has updated the saturday schedule to include both aikido and judo so i made sure to stay for both.

Aikido (and judo for that matter) has new students from the last time i was there. We went through tegatana (i still remember!) and the first motion from hanasu. We illustrated the two basic ways it happens, basically uke will either strong arm or bend his arm as you avoid it. The two randoris were fun and was just another example of how much i missed class.

Judo was a refresher course for me, i've never really been to many judo classes and what i did learn has been layered in dust. Going back over the ground transfers and footsweeps was a much needed refresher course. During the newazza randori i noticed a bad habit of leaning backwards. So thats something ill have to work on.

All in all a great class.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A different attacker.

I'm still alive and kicking, i'm just currently having to apply aiki principles more towards life than ukes at the moment. Random thought/question of the moment: is having to pause on the path still part of the journey?

I'd like to think so. I hope so.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rex-Kwan-Do meltdown

Cuban taekwondo athlete banned after kicking ref

"BEIJING (AP) A Cuban taekwondo athlete and his coach were banned for life after Angel Matos kicked the referee in the face following his bronze-medal match disqualification.
Cuban coach Leudis Gonzalez offered no apology for Matos' actions.
Matos was declared the loser for taking too much injury time after hurting his leg during the men's over-80 kg (176 pounds) match. Fighters get one minute, and Matos was disqualified when his time ran out.
"He was too strict," Gonzalez said, referring to the decision to disqualify Matos.
Matos angrily questioned the call, pushed a judge, then pushed and kicked referee Chakir Chelbat of Sweden. Matos then spat on the floor and was escorted out.
Matos won the gold medal in this division at the 2000 Sydney Games, dedicating the victory to his mother, who died on the day of the opening ceremony. At the 2004 Athens Games, he finished 11th.
Matos' tantrum followed a day of confusion on the mats.
Earlier Saturday, China's double gold medalist Chen Zhong crashed out in the quarterfinals after initially being declared the winner. It was the first time a match result had been overturned since taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 1990. "

I think it's probably uncontrolable angst about the lack of tv coverage for his sport. I'm certain a TKD player, in a world where international ping pong gets more press, would be a ticking time bomb.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Office space practicallity

As i'm sure anyone in the cubicle jungle knows, danger lurks everywhere. One must constatly be mindfull of attack from every angle and from any person which, as i learned today, also includes the pregnant ones.

One of the office girls decided to "attack" me today and yelled out, "i'm going to strangle you" after i had applied a perfectly executed smart ass remark. As i turned around she had just broken ma'ai with both arms outstreched to strangle me. After that kind of set-up it was easy, i just stepped forward to the side breaking her balance and set her up for a Ushiro Ate (relax, i didn't drop her). I have to admit i was slighty bemused for hours that i had pulled all that off without really thinking.

But one quention remains, how do you claim real world effectiveness when you've defended yourself against an expectant mom?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A question on my mind.

Does anyone know how to make the world a better place? Can it be done? Is it vain to try?

I'd love to hear opinions.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

You need all the pieces to finish the puzzle.

Thanks to my spiffy new C-PAP machine i'm feeling much more the energetic aiki student.

Today's class was pretty good. We looked at how a fluctuation in movement can affect things one or two steps further along by using tegatana as a looking glass. The end of the first set of turns leaves an awkward pause before moving into the forward steps or the tenkan ashi before the shomen te gatane.

We moved into hanasu and after a rep each Pat had us go through some randori while naming the releases as we went. I have to admit this was a bit of a challenge for me. I know the releases well enough in the kata form but trying to name them as they appear naturally wasn't easy. It's something im definitely going to try to commit to memory in the future.

Nijusan. Something i thought i had a decent grasp on. Not quite as it turns out, but all for the best as i learned another piece of the puzzle that makes aikido a complete picture. The way i had been doing the techniques before i was slightly blurring through the different points to sorta force them to go smoothly, basically speeding up to make it work. As i found out today the pieces, each given their due time to fit into the next piece, create a whole that is much more like the aikido we all aim for as we practice. It goes back to something i posted about a while back, having faith that the technique will work frees up your mind and allows you to have a lighter touch to let uke go where he wants. At least that's how it seems to work for me at the moment.

I think i did alright today as far as motion is concerned. I have to admit that i may have been a little stiff to begin with today, in times past my frustration does have a habit of getting in the way even before i begin. Its something i have to work on, the way i absorb things isnt always the quickest and that's usually the source of it. But given enough time i'll get better at my own pace, i just have to be patient with my pace's speed. And that's the hardest part i think i face.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day everyone. Enjoy your freedom and grilled meats!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Social Responsibilities and Martial Arts

John's got a great blog post i wanted to spread the word on. I'd love to see more people's opinions on this one. CHECK IT OUT!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Well, maybe that explains something....

I just found out last night i have fairly bad sleep apnea. When your brain's half asleep most of the time it might explain why learning is a 12 step process in the order of 7-1-3-10-4 and so on. I'll have to go back for a second night to see what amount of air pressure i need out of a CPAP, but i'm told i'll feel like a million bucks once i go back to a decent night's sleep. Here's hoping.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oh yeah, i almost forgot!

Pat's class where he threw in the idea of french curves was something that i enjoyed. It reminded me to use the natural curves of both my arms as i defend and the curves of uke's arms as he attacks.

I also need to work on being a better uke. I'm not sure how i'm falling short but i've had comments that i'm not doing things at times that are quite right. My tsugi-ashi and shomenate are done with the right forward intent from my perspective but somewhere along the way through the technique to it's ending point i may be falling short or not giving the correct force where it should be.

It's sort of the silent problem that seems to fade in and out from time to time and i don't want to forget it's there.

Anyone out there have tips and tricks?

Of things to come.

So after i reinstalled windows, lost my scratch built levels of neverwinter nights (sigh), and fought the genuine copy protection block my blog seems to be back in order. I'm back in "range" of Pat's dojo, that is to say i'm back home and back to around 90 miles away. I've made it to class a couple of times, mainly going to a starkville clinic and once or twice to a regular class. I've mentioned before that i don't get to go as often as i'd like (as in every class) and how that bugs me so i won't get into that again. That's just how it goes.

In October (if i'm lucky) i'll be getting my ikkyu and john will be getting his shodan the week before our dojo's annual (semi) event, Woodhenge. The name has a history. I'm looking forward to the week long training session with john and pat but there's a tiny tinge of disappointment that i won't be getting my shodan with john. That was sort of our shared goal for the longest, getting them at the same time from pat but it's just not in the cards i suppose.

I've been working on the self discipline side by dieting and attempting to exercise regularly. John's idea sounds like a good one so i think i'll find a soft spot out in the yard and try and throw that into the "regimen". Definitely need the ukemi practice one way or the other. Actually, if i can create a comfortable zone of ability that i can maintain (continued practice) with that i wouldn't mind if i ever got another belt again. Though i really gotta catch up on dues....

Monday, June 09, 2008

Under construction

I'll be back as soon as i can figure out why my personal comp won't post posts. I've been to class and have confusing/enlightening things to work out in literary form but it'll have to wait till i debug something. I guess.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I like this dude.

Pat has posted a couple of videos on this guy: Robert Sharpe. The videos are great to watch, very informative in their own right, but (as Pat said on his blog) if you substitute aiki or aikido into his discussion it comes out as a great lesson for us aiki guys. I wish there was more to find on this guy, i like his personality and his philosophy on what he does and the world around him is definitely worthy of note.

Enough of my gabbing, here's the one i wanted to show first(since that link apparently has every freaking one of them). This one is part of the interview that relates who he is and what he's done:

And this is an example of one that you can throw aikido into what he's talking about, he's talking about tai chi push hands and randori can be interchangeable with much of it:

Anyway, i like the videos ( reiteration ) and i think you should go watch them all. Yes even the capoeria ones.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The things i think i understand

I went to Sensei Charles' class again last night and here are two points that stuck with me:

  1. Get my hands involved with forward rolling.

  2. Have confidence that the technique will work.

After reading the email that john forwarded him Sensei Charles wanted to go over again why he also teaches aikikai ukemi at his dojo. Demonstration: concrete sans mats. A perfect arena to make a full roll to standing. I have to say i was somewhat nervous to try it out, akin to them moving the floor and revealing a shallow indention full of burning hot coals, but after seeing them do it i had to try. I have to say i didn't do bad, i could use some work....but i didn't dive right into the ground like a mangled airplane either.

I've always had problems with getting into a roll and coming up to standing. Putting my feet into a different position than i've been trying seems to work out. (duh, right?) I'm not saying the other fall is some kind of archaic false religion now, by no means, just at the moment it seems to me how the foot and hand slap helps more with airfalls than with forward rolls. It also helped me to look at the roll as something continuous till the end. With the other way i was trying to do it, my momentum would stop fully down on the mat and i would then push myself up over my extended leg to get up. With the new roll i just keep on moving, my arms come in at the right time and guide my momentum (i.e. large bulk) up off the ground.

My final theory is, using the way John put it; Aikikai = forward rolls, Kodokan = air fall recovery. All theories are subject to change due to me only being a sankyu. And just as a disclaimer the Fugakukai way is taught at the dojo.

As we went through Nijusan, it was neat to look at it from the angle of "As you create the offbalance, they will generally go a certain way, so don't worry about it, clear your mind for what happens next." I think this comes from a different idea/perspective and the experience of having done this for a little while. It's took me a little while to really see what it meant, but like in ushiro ate if you aiki brush them off to the side uke will move from point a to point b and that's when the throw takes place. So do the brush off and the rest falls into place.

Last night was the last chance i'll get to go to Sensei Charles' class, as i'll be moving back to Mississippi this weekend, but i definitely enjoyed the time i did get to spend at his dojo and the classes gave me a lot of things to noodle over. If anyone is in the kissimmie, fl area you should definitely check out his dojo.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Oh, and read this....

I dug this story and wanted to link share. All credit goes to AikiThoughts.

Dharmakaya Aikido

After months of false starts and schedule animosity John and i finally headed down to the Kissimmie, FL area to see Sensei Charles Crist at his dojo. His dojo is in his garage which was cool to us given out little slice of heaven downstairs and Pat's dojo back home...the Fugakukai tradition continues.

Sensei Charles is a great guy and even better teacher. The class started off with ukemi and his students are AWESOME at it. I have to say when it came to my turn i was a little intimidated. They were all very fluid in their motion and came right back up and rolled right back down again. I have seriously got to practice more, it was a clear view of what i need to aim for.

Next we did tegatana but the switch from what we're used to came in the form of doing it by the count. It was a different tempo to attempt and i found myself looking around once or twice to make sure i was on the right foot or hadn't skipped ahead by accident.

Then came nijusan. I really enjoyed this part of class (which luckily lasted the rest of the session). Tori would step out on the mat and the rest of the students would line up and attack with a straight arm to the chest at what Sensei Charles called "actual speed". It was a different animal from measuring off at ma'ai and making a single step/lunge forward but i dug it. Shomen ate, Aigamae ate, and gyaku gamae ate were all easy for me to go through but gedan ate, the black sheep, reared it's head again. As we lined up for it i was curious to see how they were able to use the technique in the midst of all this dynamic movement and avoidance. The way they practice it is different from ours...but i think (because i'm able to make this work much better) that it's more effective. It involves the same idea...a "failed" attempt at gyaku gamae ate but instead of getting under the arm for a bumping off balance it uses uke's other arm being turned over the first to cause him to air fall onto the ground.

The one we practice the most often, Sensei Charles said, seems to work best as a linear move instead of happening in the parameters of what their type of nijusan creates. He still has the regular version of it up on his techniques page and all of them are worth looking at.

Afterwards we talked about aikido and whatnot and said our goodbyes. I walked away with a refreshed sense of aikido. Our time in class gave me another opportunity to see how aikido works no matter how it's approached and a few new ideas to use when i travel back home next week.

And soreness...jeeze it's been a while since i've practiced.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


It's my birthday!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A different kind of aikido.

Well, it's been (almost) a month since my last post and there hasn't been anything to report since then. With current circumstances being what they are where i live, these days i don't see my aikido training staying a continuing practice the way it has been in the past i.e. going to the dojo and getting to practice with an uke on even an occasional schedule. I used to worry about that kind of situation happening and my aikido sliding into atrophy but i realize even going it alone a lot of aiki training can still be maintained without a training partner. Tegatana, our aikido style's walking kata that demonstrates the basics of evasion, can (of course) be done solo and with the different thoughts behind it I can keep staying out of the way of an attack fresh in my mind.

Ukemi, falling practice, is something i've been uncomfortable with in the past and though i have a long way to go to make it a second hand idea or an automatic response i'm getting there. Another solo practice it may be (who needs an uke to roll?) it's one that i actually need to do more regularly... tegatana can be broken down into segments and done "out in the world" where you wont get cross looks but if someone clear out of the blue decided to fall backwards to one side or the other you tend to feel like an odd duck. My current (much after the new year) resolution is to get into the habit of doing some ukemi practice since i have to set it aside just to find a place to do it easily/safely.

Well that's all well and good, but the title of this post hints at i've been mentally noodling over what's still aikido when actually physical practice isnt involved. This is the point where i think everyday aikido comes into play, the aikido you use by rolling with life and blending with the occasional hard knock and getting along with the people you come across.

The Way of Harmony a guy named Ueshiba talked about once.

You may be familiar with it.

The philosophical parts some may gloss over entirely or focus on exclusively. Their or your call.

It was never a driving goal for me, but the spiritual side (if you'll allow) seems to have popped up over the time i've been in aikido as a by-product of the whittling away of anxiety over learning something like the kind of martial art aikido is, looking silly, not getting it right aways - name your poison. The training that you place on yourself that gets Andy(insert your name here) at white belt to Andy at brown belt and beyond.

So even though i don't have a good destination for that train of thought to end up at the moment in the confines of this post i am working on it. Enjoying the knowledge that i'm handling life better that previous and the understanding that aikido had a part to play in it. It may not be fighting an army of Agent Smiths but i think it's the aikido that we end up practicing much longer in the end than the martial side.