Saturday, July 26, 2014

Aikido, 7-19-14 - Bode Clinic

Last week we had a clinic with JW Bode. I wasn't able to attend the whole thing, but the few hours I was there were pretty great. We worked on covering the attacker's hands as a sort of light-touch sensitivity drill, and worked most of our basic 17 from there.  Of course we emphasized Bode's method of not throwing an attacker away, but keeping him under control the entire time. It's a great option to work on.

Here's my biggest takeaway: for the second time in a couple of weeks, and from different sources, I was shown that speed isn't the same as timing. Consequently, I don't need to be in a big rush to do whatever thing I happen to be doing. At least not if I'm doing it correctly.

Another concept we worked on can be summed up by a Bode quote:

"If you're not cheating, you're not trying hard enough to survive"

Right up my alley!

My toe is healing up slowly-but-nicely, and I'm looking forward to getting back to regular training!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Aikido / Judo, 7-5-14

Yesterday was the first time in quite a while I've been back to Pat's to train. We camped out mostly on Release 1, and the new way Pat's been doing it. It feels brand new to me again, and it's a little confusing. I think I "get it" conceptually, but doing it correctly is another thing entirely. It reminds me of when I first started and felt like there were a couple dozen things to keep in mind for each release. Looking forward to getting enough reps of this new way that I don't have to think about it much. It will be nice when can I gather with my students again and see how the tweaks figure in to the way we've been doing releases.  There was an emphasis on keeping the slack out of the uke/tori connection by changing the direction of the energy. I need to remember to maintain a "push" throughout, not a bunch of alternating pushes and pulls (which keeps creating slack). I also need to remember to "release with my feet" and not try to do the whole thing with my arm. Like I said, I'm feeling like a white belt again with this new approach!

Pretty much all of the aikido portion of the class was spent playing with Release 1. That was really cool, but it got even cooler when we started terminating it with iriminage or aegamaeate. And it reached the Miles-Davis-level coolness when we ended it with a hip throw! We went from there into using Release 1 as an entry to other judo throws. Blew. My. Mind.

We focused on ending every technique in a dominant position (ukigatame, or knee-on-belly). Lastly, we played judo/aikido randori, including a little ground work. It exposed a great need I have: to get back to training judo and drilling hundreds of reps of basic throws. I stopped training judo while only a green belt, and that was two or three years ago. It's time for me to go back and relearn the alphabet, so I can relearn how to form a few words, and move on to some communication, figuratively speaking. Our randori ended with my little toe getting dislocated or broken - my first injury in about 7 years of aikido, less than that of judo. Hurts like the dickens!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Goodbye, BJJ. Hello again, Judo.

Thursday I went for a private BJJ lesson with a blue belt I know.  I've been of two minds regarding BJJ for a while now, and I went partly to help settle my thoughts about it. More on that in a bit.

After a warmup, we worked on a shrimping variation that uses the opposite leg you'd normally use to shrimp. It allows you to keep your "top" leg up as a guard against your opponent. Difficult at first, but kind of neat.

We worked on a couple things from having someone in your closed guard; first, we played with sort of a scissor sweep variation, that allowed a really easy arm bar if it failed (or even if it didn't). It depended on sort of a "cheat" though (grabbing the inside of the pants leg), at least by competition rules. Next we worked on survival while under side control, easily one of the most miserable (and frequent) positions I often find myself in. It just involved the basics of trying to build a frame and making top guy as uncomfortable as you are.

I've really been struggling with whether or not I want to pursue BJJ again. On one hand (the "pros" column), it's a magnificent art. Endlessly interesting. And effective within certain constraints. On the other hand, ("cons") it's expensive, and it's a big time investment on weeknights, which are already packed for me. While it's great exercise, I've already been doing much better with exercise lately on my own, and BJJ always makes me feel more like I've been through a meat grinder than that I've had a good workout. One of the biggest "cons" is that all of the BJJ around here is very sport-focused. I'm way more interested in practical self-defense, so I don't care to spend time on X-Guards, using my gi to wrap my opponent's hand, etc.

For these and other reasons, I've decided not to pursue BJJ any more, but to start learning Judo again. It's been a while, so I'm super rusty, and will probably just start from the beginning again. Pat's Judo is more traditional, in that it's more self-defense oriented, not geared for competition. I won't win any BJJ tournaments with it (they're two different things, despite the similarities), but that doesn't align with my goals anyway.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Checking In

Here's another one of those "I haven't blogged in a while" posts. I won't belabor my inactivity. Instead, I'll give a brief update on what I've been up to these last 6-9 months:

For several months I taught a small Aikido class at my home, as well as at my church. Sadly, scheduling was too much of a hassle for it to continue. I had a couple students who took it seriously and wanted to learn, and for their sake, I may start teaching again. There just aren't enough hours in the week!

I let my Concealed Carry Instructor cert expire with the State Police, but I renewed it and am able to teach the class again now.

I trained at a karate school near my house for several weeks, and was hopeful it was going to be what I am looking for in karate instruction... but I quit when we started the heavily "sportified" sparring.  I'm just not interested in competition/sport martial arts. My little girl is training at that school though, and I'm glad about that - at 6 years old, I'm not afraid sportified sparring will ruin her (and the rest of the instruction seems good).

I'm beginning to prep again! I'm really excited about that. Life gets in the way so much. I *plan* on blogging about that specifically (we'll see how it goes, no promises) over at

I'm planning on returning to training with my Aikido and Judo teacher next weekend! It's been too long!

My wife and I converted our spare bedroom into a home gym. We've been doing a modified "Stronglifts 5X5" workout consistently for 8 weeks now, every other day!  This is (sadly) the most consistent I've ever been with an exercise regimen, and I'm slowly but surely seeing results.

That's about it - I'm going to try to blog more, but I've said that before. Back on the horse....

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hodge Podge, 9-20-13

Mixed bag tonight. Worked out day one of a new program:

Bench Press
Bent over row
Seated shoulder press
Bicep curl
Seated tricep extension

Then my dear wife and I worked on horizontal elbows with focus mitts, and walking kata a few times.

Lastly, I stumbled through Heian Shodan twice. My techniques aren't polished, but I wanted to get the gist of the kata.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Karate Homework, 9-19-13

Tonight I walked the floor twice in:

  • Kiba dachi
  • Zenkutsu
  • Kokutsu
Then I walked twice in a kiba, zenkutsu, kokutsu progression (it allowed about 6 reps of each stance).

Combined, this gave me roughly 24 reps of each stance.

I "get" cat stance and crane stance, but struggle with seeing them as anything useful to know about at this point. 

Next I practiced "punching the corners" from kiba for a while, focusing on keeping the chambered hand low, and keeping the punching elbow close to my body. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

BJJ, 9-18-13

Tonight we drilled arm bars from the guard, then worked on triangles. Next we moved to a "teepee" triangle as a response to your opponent posturing up to defend the original triangle attempt. We worked an arm bar from that position, then practiced omoplata from a failed triangle.

Live rolling was next. I rolled with a blue belt for my first round and did about the same as I usually do against him, which is to say, not very well. I guess I was able to survive (postpone?) some of his onslaught.

Round two, I went against a no-stripe white belt (same as me)...little did I know he had a strong wrestling background. He rolled hard the first round and I played a lot of defense. Definitely more of a challenge than I was expecting. Class was running late, so we had the option to stop or go for one more round. I rolled again with the same guy. We turned out to be the only ones rolling, so we had an audience. I immediately went for a "shoulder guard" I've been studying up on via a Cyborg DVD I have. From there I quickly slapped a triangle on him, just like in the video, hah! Unfortunately, he postured and I had to rely on my just-learned teepee triangle to stop him from escaping. I squeezed hard but he wouldn't tap! I figured it wasn't working so I tried to transition to an arm bar but that was a mess that allowed him to get me in side control. From then on it was back to my increasingly normal "defend-and-suffocate-until-they-submit-me-or-the-bell-rings" game. He told me after the round that he would have tapped after two more seconds of that teepee triangle. Two. More. Seconds.

Despite almost submitting someone tonight, I felt like it may have been my poorest performance. None of my escapes seemed to be working even when I feel like they should have. I seemed to be getting gassed more quickly than usual too. I feel like I pretty much got steamrolled tonight.