Monday, November 23, 2009

So, what do i do?

I haven't been able to travel to class since august. I have no one in my area that wants to practice. I have missed and will miss seminars because of my job. There is only so much tegatana i can really do.

I'm just really discouraged and don't know what to do. My aikido doesnt seem to be going anywhere because i can't get the practice i need to improve but i don't want to just...quit.


Friday, August 28, 2009

"I thought i could instruct him.... well as Yoda. I was wrong."

So today i got up early and went to USM to do some aikido with my buddy Jessie. He's taking an aikikai off-shoot there at the college so every once in a while we get together and compare notes and work with a few things and basically uke for each other.

Today i actually went with the idea of us doing a few reps of tegatana with a few of the ideas from Pat's 100 terrific things to try with in tegatana and then working on hanasu.

With tegatana we went through a few reps focusing on:

1. relax
61. same hand same foot
3. balls of feet, heels slightly brushing

What made this more challenging than usual was the fact that our place to practice happens to be the volleyball court outside the college's fitness center. After doing a rep in the sand we did the second one on pavement and for the heck of it did another rep in the sand.

Hanasu is where everything felt like it fell apart. As we went through the first 4 back and fourth i had a hard time conveying how uke should generally move during each technique. Hanasu basically boils down into 2 things for uke

1. uke grabs tori's opposite hand in an attempt to lead him off
2. uke grabs tori's hand on the same side and attempts to lead him off.

Somehow there was a gap in communication. Jessie would simply grab my wrist and just plant. It didn't stop me from completing the "kata" like continuation of the move.. but it didn't really move well at all. When i was playing uke i would follow through and things worked alright.

I eventually stepped back two steps away to see if i could maybe create what i was trying to relate and that seemed to solve it to an extent. It's so hard to get him to relax.

I'm not sure if it's just me not explaining things well (see subtitle at top of page) or the differences in style or his inexperience with aikido as a whole. It left me a little self-reflective, my thoughts as i repeated everything in my head became increasingly frustrating. I feel like at this point i should be able to show some of the simpler things of aikido but today that just was NOT the case.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009


As i moved around in class last night trying to remember how this technique goes or how that technique moves a certain way something occurred to me that i thought i'd waste the virtual ink to share.

One of the new guys (i say new guy but he's been going for almost 3 months and having only met him twice that shows how good i am, plus i can't remember his name) and i were working on a chain of techniques that hover around shomeate and kotegaeshi and wakigatame. I had been having trouble all class with my wakigatames, still getting an "arm bar" but the grip felt wrong or this or that but we continued to move around and bouncing comments back and forth to each other and eventually it started to run a tad more smoothly for me.

The rest of the class went great. Pat had a loaded house so it gave us all a chance to work with everyone else. Everyone in class has variances in height and size and levels of experience but we were all communally working towards helping each other out.

It dawned on me during the car ride back home how nice it is to be able to participate in something (anything) where everyone is helping everyone else get better. Even (and i'm preaching to myself too though for appearance sake i choose to make the implications as to who vague) thought sometimes it seems like everything is getting frustrating and you might not be progressing you actually ARE getting better. Bit by bit.

I wanted to end off with a Doogie Houwer type revelation for this post, but all i can really say is it's just nice to be a part of that.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Our dojo has popsicles.

I made it to class yesterday and i convinced Jessie (the aikikai guy) to come along. We had class outside of the dojo this time, and it's always an interesting change. The parking area in front of the dojo has a decent slope upwards towards the street which makes movement on the balls of your feet quiet different from the norm.

Pat gave tegatana a bit of a switch up during the second rep. Going through the kata with a rubber knife in one hand causes you to have a different focus on what sometimes ends up as the "off hand" during the kata. I liked how it changes your ideas for some of the things you'd otherwise take for granted.

The rest of class we all worked on chains stemming off of hanasu #2 and a bit of a tune up for the first motion of nijusan.

A couple of things to ponder:

1) Even if tori somehow gets positioned further away from uke or an unexpected turn happens it takes very little for tori to turn this new situation into something defensible. Just stay aware.

2) I need to work on scaling back the "force" i try to apply on the first off balance of nijusan's shomenate by approaching it with a more agile footstep.

I'm hoping to get in some extra practice time this week. Jessie isn't working so that ought to allow for some tossing around at least a couple of times this week.

Also, you're always affirmed on your choice of places to train when you break between lessons for delicious frozen treats.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A moment of silence for a fellow aikidoka

I just wanted to let everyone know that Sensei Charles Crist passed away from his long fight with cancer today. Though i didn't have the pleasure of knowing him long, i considered him a friend.
He was a good teacher and a great person.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hey kids, it's a new way to do the kote gaeshi!

Saturday's class was great and i was even able to bring my buddy Jessie along. We did a little bit of tegatana and moved right on into nijusan. The first motion was what we focused on the most, but the second popped up from time to time.

Class was really geared towards the different ways kote gaeshi can pop up. My favorite out of the bunch was done with a grip below the wrist. It squeezes down on the nerves just below the wrist itself, still producing a reaction from uke that causes him to lean to one side or the other. My favorite part of the whole thing is that it doesn't remotely risk hurting the wrist at all. I think it's the most aiki like of all the ways to do kote gaeshi.

Jessie seemed to be really interested in going back. He said the part he likes the most about Pat's dojo is that we work through what happens when one technique moves into another. The majority of his practice sounds like it's a strict repetition of kata moves. Hopefully with enough time in class, he'll be swayed over to our side. -=insert maniacal laughter=-

Thursday, May 07, 2009

If i get there, can i give someone directions over the phone?

The last few posts my buddy John has made over on his blog show that he's gotten a lot wiser over the last year or so. He's teaching aikido one night a week at the YMCA and his classs (as well as his understanding of aikido) seems to be flourishing. The post he just made today got me thinking about goals.

In the martial arts, and in life in general, goals can mean and lead to a lot of different things. The reasons that drive us are as varied as the people that have them. I've had several different reasons for why i've been going to aikido over the (5+ off and on) years i've gone to class. I can't say one has really been greater than another or even if any of them would actually lead to an "achievement" of any tangible sort, but i kept going. In the times when class wasn't an option i'd noodle over some point or another or practice my footwork using our walking kata.

Eventually i came to terms with the fact that, for me, it's like playing with clay. You can mold something out of it but if you take a closer look at what you've made there will always be something that you can add on or shape differently. If you're dedicated enough or strict enough or if you love the thing enough to see what it becomes next your piece of clay will never run out of things to explore. Even when you place it aside and go about daily life the things you've done with that clay will carry with you. Spending that much time with a thing, i think, causes you to in a way become the thing or at the very least the experience of what you've done is a part of who you are.

Touchy-feely mumbo jumbo aside, and having lost all pretense of making a point i'll conclude with something of an idea.

I don't care about the next belt. I doubt i'll ever be "one of the greats" or even one of the mentionables. All i want for now is to become a potter that doesnt become so concerned with forming my best bowl that i forget how to translate potting to someone else.

Ok, i'm done with the psuedo wise man bit. Back to the ramble.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Quick edit

On that last post i put pluralsy when he actually had pleurisy. I'm sure there was no confusion, but i apologize anyway.

End transmission.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Midnight Aikido

Friday after a movie a couple of buddies and i went over to USM's volleyball court for some aikido practice. Jessie and i both practice aikido (he does a style akin to aikikai) and Jimmy is a newb interested in seeing what it's all about.

We did some forward and backward rolls and showed jimmy the basics of ukemi. He did alright though it's hard to get a lot of reps out of a guy who doesn't want to get sandy.

Most of the night was just Jessie and I comparing notes in a "I do this this way, how do you do it format". We did out best to give Jimmy some of the basics and by the end of the night we both looked upon him with a sense of pride. He easily adapted to the getting off the line idea but still had an occasional tendency to lean instead of fully move out of the way. We went over waki gatame and a bit of kote gaeshi with him as well. Between jessie and i tossing each other around we would occasionally spring an attack on Jimmy and he defended himself really well.

All and all it was a fun time. Jessie decided to do some airfalls at one point while i worked with Jimmy and at some point took a nasty fall onto his side. A few days later the doctor told him that he fractured a rib, got pluralsy and pneumonia. Ouch. He's doing better though..

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Aiki brush off.

Pat recently did a "What If.." article where he asked, amongst other things, "What part of your art is most rapidly teachable and imminently functional?"

In the post apocalyptic future of the damned that Pat set forth in his scenario i chose to teach the survivors the aiki brush off. I like it as a intro to aikido because it basically covers (in my mind) may of the things that make aikido aikido:

1) it's a decent intro to the concepts of ma'ai
2) it helps learners pick up on the lines of attack
3) (i think) it's an easy way to show people just how little force you need to deflect almost any attack
4) anything else i may not have mentioned

The time's we used it in class, during the seminars about knife defense, and at at Sensei Charles' dojo against various forms of faster forward attacks i've gotten to be something of a fan of it.

I agree with Pat that it won't really stop any conflicts but versus most types of the slow moving undead and those radioactive mutants with a low movement rate it WILL allow a holocaust survivor to wade throw small to moderate sized groups of them without much trouble. Throw the brush off in with almost any ones basic tools of punching and kicking and it's a good place to start. Another thing that might help would be the ideas behind "rolling the ball" and i'd be satisfied for group forays into the shattered wastelands to forage until they could train more.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Tai Chi Masters Battle

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Time to read!

As luck would have it.. i happened to be traveling in Waynesboro at work today and the local library was selling books extremely cheap. I loaded up on just about everything Mark Twain wrote and a few odds and ends about Stalingrad and government files on first contact knowledge.

Of interest to this blog though are two books i decided to be worthy to pick up. The first one is by Bruce K. Siddle called Sharpening The Warrior's Edge : The Psychology & Science of Training.

The second is The Spirit of Shaolin by none other than David Carradine himself. Naturally i'm reading the Spirit of Shaolin cause Kung Fu the series rocked. My copy is hard backed and has a less fruity/new age cover than the one pictured at amazon.

Once i get these read i may say yea or nay on how worthwhile they are.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

1,000 step journeys are much longer than advertised.

Yesterday we worked on 6 through 9 of nijusan. Pat started us off with some jodo like exercises that helped to emphasize bringing both hands down to our center using uke's weight/force. It was a great class but there are so many things to improve on it's sometimes hard to remember a time when i was not as adequate as i am now. And i do mean simply adequate.

Right now i want to become more comfortable with the motions and having better flow. I also need to work on better memorization of the techniques and the principles behind them so i can better describe/explain them to others. I'm glad im in no hurry to get anywhere but better.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wait. It's THAT easy? Really!?


Anyone out there who has kept up with my sporadic posting and my slightly askew monologues knows that I've always had a problem with my falls. I've always felt awkward in the execution, which led to "not quite great" falls or occasional flopping. This in turn created frustration with aikido in general and self-consciousness 'cause I must have been doing something wrong. (which i was)

Today's class changed all that.. and i couldn't be happier.

A good bit of class today was devoted to ukemi. Ground rolls forwards and backwards progressed to the standing forward rolls. Pat got us to extend an arm out for him to hold and as when leaned forward to a certain point he'd let the arm (which was limp btw) go and we would fall into the roll. For me, everything finally snapped into place. The roll felt comfortable, i wasn't tense, and i was easily able to come back up to standing. Great success!

So i ask Pat (in so many words), "Since you made those easy, can you make backward rolls as easy?"

"Ok then," says Pat.

2 weeks ago we were doing shomen ate and again (as had been the norm lately) the back fall just wasn't working right for me. I go flop onto my arse like i was just plopping down on the couch. My muscles seized up in my neck and upper back and, long story short, it took a few days to recover.

Back to the present: Pat broke out the crash pad, leaving it folded, and had us take a small step back and then sit down. As he demonstrated it i silently balked a little. "That looks way too easy." As as i crouched and sat it felt way too easy as well. After a few reps he unfolded the crash pad and we continued to step back and sit on a lower, though still comfy, surface.

At this point i was pretty amused by the fact that all this was was us sitting back and rolling slightly as the backward motion canceled out. It didn't hurt, feel odd, and it worked.. so i just couldn't see this thing being the right. I was enjoying this too much. It was fun.

Pat, being the ever patient teacher, finally moved the pad away and over and over the backfall worked. It was smooth and effortless. This still couldn't be that easy but I was hooked and enjoying it. This was definitely part of the aikido i had always felt i was missing out on.

With standing rolls and backward rolls covered i decided to push my luck and get Pat to fix my side falls as well. With these i had always just assumed, even more so than the other parts of ukemi, that falling sideways just walked hand in hand with eating a whole bunch of energy.

As it turns out though, not so much.

The thing i had been missing out on with these is that with the palm from whichever side i was falling and my leg/hip i was creating a arch to slow myself down and continue rolling slightly to the other shoulder. All this time i had been slamming onto my side with a slapping arm absorbing some of the impact but nowhere near the right amount i should have been getting rid of.

All of that said i was quite shocked and at the same time extremely delighted today. It was by far my favorite class because it cleared up nearly all of the things i have difficulty with in aikido. Or atleast difficulty in the sense that i constantly butt heads with it. I've been on cloud 9 all day and will for a while, i think.

I really love aikido. Best day ever!

Friday, February 20, 2009

I have mastered the Hadou!

It's kinda lame but i sorta dig it. I just wish i wasn't so damn pasty white! Lol

If you're a fan of Street Fighter.. and want to see your face on a cartoon click the link and make your own. It's pretty neat. I only wish i had thought to put John's face on Akuma.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Happy Birthday to me.

February 3rd is my birthday. Tomorrow will only give me 729 days left to enjoy before Carousel.

Renew! Renew!

(Yes, i'm posting a day early...but i'm feeling rather apathetic towards it at the moment.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Changing ideas by building better walls.

This saturday definitely gave some things to ponder on.

With tegatana, i need to devote more practice to the kata. As the first kata we learn in our style of aikido it's seems easy, after so many repetitions, to simply zone out on auto pilot as i go through the steps. I don't want you to think that i flop through it without any care as to what's going on at all, because i don't. Generally, i think of the up and down and how the motion of my arms effects the side to side. As i found out later in class i need to keep from losing track of how my feet are acting. When i have to stop and think about it or explain where they go, i run into a snag. "Does my foot turn out or in?" "Will my hand be on the same side as my foot or opposite?" I have to work on making the katas i've learned stand out of the background haze of my thoughts and become something that i can consciously cite whenever i need to.

My hanasu isn't immune to foot misplacement either. Hon Soto Te Osu (#2) and Gyaku Soto Te Osu (#4) have alway been two moves that have never felt.. quite right. Pat gave me another idea to iron them out. At times the way to move off to the side is to make a full step, then a shuffle adjustment then to move behind uke takes another full step and a shuffle adjustment. As always i need practice practice practice.

For me, our nijusan practice was what gave me the most to noodle on from that class. We worked on shome ate and aigame ate.

The entry to shomen ate as uke attacks with his right hand is for tori to step off to the right with a deflecting qucik/small push against uke's arm causing an off balance. If uke insists on continuing the attack tori makes a block with the left hand and then makes a shomen ate forward with the right.

With aigamae ate, when uke makes a forward right handed attack tori deflects the attack to the right attempting to cause an off balance between uke's feet. If uke is able to recover tori stays behind uke's arm making a series of steps to the left deflecting uke's arm with tori's left hand. When uke gets into a position where he can attack it will cause him to stop moving and face tori. Tori then makes a right handed shomen ate to uke.

Now, if you were able to follow my explanation of these two moves ( i admit it's probably very convoluted in it's explanation) then you noticed that there are a lot of switches from the left hand to the right hand and vice versa. As Pat explained, what really places the strength in these right and left movements is the placement of your feet in unison with you hands as a stable cohesive motion creating a wall that won't move. In my case, as far as my hands were concerned, they were more or less on autopilot. When Pat had me pay almost exclusive attention to my feet things definitely came together much better. Even in aigamae ate as i stayed behind uke my left hand would be in place but having my foot work with it i was able to build a better wall each time.

One of the best ways to practice this simultaneous right side/left side together movement is to stand in front of something sturdy and pick a side to some ate against the (let's say a wall) wall. Then as one side makes firm contact roll over to the opposite side. You can do this back and forth however many times you want to help get that idea to become more natural. It's something that Pat had us do every now and then, but it's importance never really clicked until saturday's class.

All this stuff to readjust my thinking of aikido and we got to do some extra ukemi practice too. It was a great class.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I've something to say on the topic of Saturdays.

Made it to class saturday as part of my "no weekend class left behind" program and had a lot of fun. We went through some ukemi practice and i was made well aware of just how little practice i've gotten with it over the last few months as i couldnt do a backward roll from a laying down position. It was personally embarassing as it had previously been a personal hurtle i had (once) finally overcome. So i'm going to have to re-adjust that setback.

We did hanasu 1 and 2 and some chain work. It's cool having the new people in class, i get to work with someone that's even taller than i am and someone that's almost 2 feet shorter. That big of a change between ukes give a lot to sort of noodle out.

As far as anything else goes the writing is actually going, which is nice. The blog i plan on posting my stuff on will be private for a while (indefinately is more like it) so i won't be linking it here but i am almost through with my first short story. So yay me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New stuff for a new year.

This post isn't going to be a whole bunch of stuff. I've been way too lazy the last couple of weeks when it comes to out-of-class practice but i am determined to change all of that.

Though i wont call these resolutions, i am re-dedicating myself to edit the layout of my current life.

First off, aikido. I love it, but i haven't been often enough for quite some time. Saturdays will now be designated aikido day. On call or off, i will be making my fat ass show up to at least one class a week. Tuesday and thursday i can't make the concrete guarantee i'd like because of work, but there will be a significant reduction in: "Ugh, it's been a long day. I'm just gonna go home and veg" on the days i do get off in time when im not on call. Get over it self, you know you're going to feel a jillion times better when you're in class so just GO!

As far as out-of-class goes, one of my gamer buddies is going to an aikikai class in town and recently we played around for a few minutes doing some wrist releases and mainly comparing notes on our differences. He seems pretty interested in aikido and wants to do some more so it sounds like i might have an uke to work with every once in a while, i just gotta clear it with Pat first. My buddy's classes are at the local college on monday's and wednesdays from 8:30 to 9:45 and he's invited me so i'm thinking of checking it out. If nothing else it'll give me two more chances a week for ukemi practice. I have to admit im curious to see how "the other guys" do aikido.

Second off, writing. I used to love to just write back when i was in Jr high and high school but i just don't give myself the time to sit down and jot things out. To remedy this im gonna start a different little side blog (not connecting it to this, dont worry. You, faithful reader, are subjected to enough.) to put my stuff on and it give me a chance to look at it later and see what i think.

3rd, but still important. Drawing. It's something else i used to do alot once, and with decent skill and i want to get back to drawing. John's current escapades into comics and just the general desire to see some of my ideas bear fruit has lit a fire under my butt to get back into it. The writing page may go hand in hand with this, there is one huge idea i've had for a while that i'd like to flesh out and set some standard points on.

This has run a bit long, but thats where i'm at currently. I'll have more to write on during the week.