Saturday, March 28, 2009


No training log per se this week. I didn't go to class today, for a handful of reasons. I decided to sleep in, and spend a lazy morning with the wife and baby. I did however, pratice tegatana no kata 6 or 8 times, focusing on different things throughout. I can't be sure, but I think I've been making more of the first turning motions than they need to be (not the goblet step, but the first 180 degree turns). I also played with "linking" some of the steps like Pat and I discussed a few weeks back.

I practiced releases 1-8, but had to do them with my imaginary friend. He's a good uke, but he whines incessantly! Just kidding. Sometimes I find visualization/imaginary uke helpful, but it does lack that crucial element of feedback, no matter how disciplined I try to make my mind so that I imagine what my motions would be doing to a real person. It's tough! Release 8 was bothering me more than any others today.

Back at the beginning of this year, I wrote a post about how Judo was replacing Aikido as my favorite art. At the time, I was willing to all but abandon Aikido to devote more time to Judo. It's funny how things change from time to time. For the past few weeks, the pendulum has been swinging back the other direction. Maybe I was excited about Judo because I found that I liked it more than I originally thought I would. I don't know. In any case, I am just so in love with Aikido these days. I feel like I'm settling back into my original areas of interest, with a slight modification. My affections lie pretty much like this now:

58% Aikido
20% Judo
10% Karate-do
7% Jodo, as it relates to improving my aikido
5% Jodo, as budo/koryu in and of itself

So I'm feeling more like "majoring" in Aikido with a "minor" in Judo, and special studies in the rest. I can be fickle at times, so these numbers may be different another 3 months from now, but right now, I've got Aiki-fever.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday Thoughts, 3/26/09

"It is essential to make your natural bearing the bearing you use in martial arts, and the bearing you use in martial arts your natural bearing."
- Kenji Tomiki
I've been doing better at this lately. A couple of examples: Our dojo's "theme of the month" for February was "posture". Some ideas from that have really stuck with me, particularly imagining a line to a balloon pulling up from the top of my head coupled with a line from my center drawing me down like the keel of a boat. I've begun using this idea as I walk anywhere, and I find it helps me feel more alert...more prepared...and like I have a more confident bearing (which may in turn reduce my chances of becoming a target). I've also noticed motions from tegatana no kata bleeding over into my day-to-day habits. For example, we have a narrow hallway at work, and now when I pass someone in it, I find I unconsciously do the "goblet step" (the 3rd motion) in tegatana, just as my coworker breaks ma-ai.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What-I've-Read Wednesday 3/25/09

I'm not reading any martial arts book this week, so I'm doing a mini-review of one I read in the past. Sgt. Rory Miller's Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence. I was excited to read this one, because I could not find anything but rave reviews of it. Did it live up, in my opinion?

Am I glad I read it? Most of it, yes.

Will I read it again? Maybe.

Reflections? This book did a great job at what it was designed to do: give martial artists a reality check and expose them to the idea that real life violence is not like what happens in their dojo. Sgt. Miller is a compelling writer with a raw, no-nonsense style, which fits well with the book's theme. He's also extremely qualified to write on the subject, given his experience. I have only 2 negative thoughts about the book: 1) From time to time, he uses inmates as examples in his stories, and tells what crimes they were serving time for. I think he does this to show the kind of person he's talking about. However, there is one such account in which the crime he off-handedly mentions disturbed me so much it woke me up in the middle of the night thinking about it. It was a crime against a child so heinous I would never have dreamed it up. Being a new father probably made it even worse for me. I read the book about 4 months ago, and still wish I could un-read that part. I'm doing my best to forget it. I understand there are terrible people out there. Do I have a new "appreciation" for just how wicked people can be? I suppose, but I could have done without it. The story I'm referring to didn't have anything to do with the anecdote it was associated with, except to point out that he was dealing with a very bad person. 2) Toward the end of the book, some of Sgt. Miller's nihilistic philosophies come out. He may be an authority on violence, but that doesn't make him an authority on God. He speaks of a time to come where God won't exist any more, which is ridiculous at best, blasphemous at worst. Now, I'm a big boy, and I understand that not everyone agrees with me. I'm cool with that. This section of the book just seemed incongruous with the rest of the book, and to be honest, it came off as pretty self-indulgent. I realize it's his book, and I suppose he can indulge himself all he wants. These are simply my own reflections on the book. Having said all that, most of the book was a fascinating read. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down...most of the time.

Recommended? I think so, but be prepared to skip over a few parts if you're easily disturbed.

But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath. Tell them this: 'These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.' " But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.

Jeremiah 10:10-12

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Judo, 3/21/09

Today Rob joined us (one of Pat's black belts). We started with the footsweep-to-control exercise, using deashi, kosotogari, and hiza garuma motions. Then we worked on a failed deashi barai, into a hiza garuma. This can happen if a) uke jerks his foot away from my deashi attempt, or b) if my bump is too enthusiastic and knocks him back further than I intended. Alternately, we looked at how a failed hiza can sometimes become a deashi if uke's foot stays in range.

For ground work, we worked on the legs-over escape from katagatame, and the spinout escape from side control and north/south. We also worked on the kimura and a straight armbar when your opponent is in your guard. Lastly, we did ground randori. I have been feeling like my "fuel efficiency" has been improving when rolling with my nephew, but during randori with Pat and Rob, I found I was back to sputtering out pretty quickly.

Our Judo time went over today, so we didn't get any aiki in this time.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Night Videos, 3/20/09

I've always liked this Judo video. Yes, it's a concept video, but I still enjoy it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What-I'm-Reading Wednesday, 3/18/09

I just finished Dave Lowry's book, "The Karate Way; Discovering the Spirit of Practice".

Am I glad I read it? Yes.

Will I read it again? Probably in about a year.

Reflections? This is the first of Dave Lowry's books that I've read, but I don't think it will be the last. I really enjoy reading conceptual (as opposed to technical) martial arts books. This was a good mix for me. Out of 29 chapters, only a handful dealt with technical aspects of the art (one chapter on the front kick, another on the side kick, etc.) The themes of the chapters seem to skip around almost randomly, but it works in this book. I really enjoyed the chapter on taisabaki, and I think it was helpful to me in my Aikido practice. Sometimes I judge how good a book was by how many times I highlighted something while reading it. I did a good bit of highlighting in this one. Another thing I liked about it was how short the chapters were: only 3 - 5 pages each. Very digestible. I wasn't sure I would enjoy it at first, as Mr. Lowry's writing seemed a bit elitist...almost snobbish in places. However, he is a restaurant critic, so it may just be his style, haha. In the end, I found I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I think my cries of "snob!" were premature.

Recommended? Yes, even if karate-do isn't the art you practice.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Judo/BJJ Study Group, 3/15/09

Tonight Cody brought his friend Christian over, but he ended up just watching...I guess checking it out to see if it would be something he'd be interested in. Cody and I warmed up with a few reps of some throws. Deashi barai, kosotogari, osotogari, hiza garuma, ukigoshi, AND I tried to show him my 2 new throws, kouchigari and seoinagi. Nothing much to note here, except that at one point, Cody caught me with a beautiful osotogari. It felt about like when Pat did it to me for my yellow belt demo - I came way up off the ground. I guess he just got the timing spot on, because it was crazy...seemed effortless. Surprised me as much as it did Cody, I think.

We pretty quickly moved on to ground randori. Let me just confess right off the bat: My escapes sucked tonight. Particularly the basics - bridge&rolls, uphills, elbow/knees, etc. For one thing, Cody had some kind of otherworldly munegatame thing going on tonight. His mune was tighter than the skin on an apple. I couldn't get ANY space to escape, or even improve my position. Well, it gives me something to work on. I did (barely) pull off an uphill escape tonight, and I got a handful of hip bump sweeps and a couple of scissor sweeps. Even my upa's were not having much luck, and those are usually easy.

As far as submissions, Cody made me tap to a rear naked choke right off the bat, but his bread and butter tonight was the Americana. After a failed Kimura, I got him in an armbar (with both of us face down), one wakigatame (Yes, still an armbar, but I got this one the way Pat taught it in class, from side control), and countless Ezekiels (okay, not "countless", but I sank 4 or 5 of them before he started catching me setting it up). Oh, I got one katagatame from mune as well.

We got to play for around 2 hours, which was great! I think next time we get together, we may be drilling basic escapes. My #1 fan (wife) had her camera out, so she took a few pictures. Be warned - we're noobs and it just might show up in these pics.

Cody has me in kesagatame

Cody trying to pass

Cody's seoinage

Me trying sasae-tsurikomi-ashi

Me trying to pass

Cody setting up a sweep

Cody's nice ukigoshi

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Karate-Do 3/14/09

Today was my first official karate lesson with Pat. We've been talking about it for a long time, and finally got around to fitting it in. We're going to try 2 karate lessons per month - one in lieu of a Judo lesson and one in lieu of an Aikido lesson. I did miss doing Judo today, but I had a blast with karate. Even though I'm only going to be doing a couple lessons per month, I should be able to train extensively at home on my own time. Solo training in karate-do is easier to manage than in Judo or Aikido.

I'm pretty much brand new at karate. We started with a discussion on how to make a fist (seiken) and sword hand (shuto). Pat covered kiba-dachi (horse stance), zenjutsu (front stance), and kokutsu (back stance). Today we worked on the following kihon (both from a stationary horse stance and moving forward and backward with front and back stances, as appropriate):
Low block
High block
Outside block
Inside block
Middle punch
High punch
Hook punch
Sword/Spear hand strike

Next we practiced tennokata, followed by and introduction to the very simple taikyoku. Pat recommended I practice taikyoku gedan, chudan, and jodan (lower, middle, and upper levels block and attacks, respectively).

We ended the class by working on Heian Shodan and its bunkai. This was an introduction to bunkai for me, so I'm certain I'll need many reviews of this lesson before it all "clicks".

A few things I need to remember about kata: 1) I can experiment with "linking" some of the steps, like how we played with tegatana no kata in Aikido today. 2) The "yoi" position has a bunkai too! It can be used to create space if an attacker bear hugs you. 3) Kime makes kata look strong and cool, but there is debate as to whether it improves your kihon. Some people think it may actually weaken your kihon. 4) Bunkai: any fist in the kata could be a grasping hand. Any punch could be a push, any block could be a strike or a pull.

Aikido 3/14/09

After warming up, we did tegatana no kata. I've been sliding my feet way too much, so we addressed that. I was under the wrong impression - I thought the idea was to slightly slide the balls of the feet, but to keep the heels barely off the mat. I'm glad that's cleared up, because intentionally placing the steps without sliding was more felt more natural. We played with the hip switch motion, placing the steps and comparing that with pivoting the feet.

Another thing we discussed was bringing the following foot along with the leading foot pretty quickly. I think it was helpful to think of something Dave Lowry wrote in The Karate Way, in the chapter on taisabaki. He advised imagining a thick rubber band around your thighs, so stepping forward with the leading foot stretches it, and it pulls the trailing foot right after.

A really cool thing we looked at is the possibility of combining or "linking" some of the steps in tegatana. So instead of "1st step, pause, 2nd step, pause, 3rd step, pause, 4th step, pause..." we might try "1st step, pause, 2nd step - 3rd step, pause, 4th step - 5th step..." and so on. It's possible with many of the steps in the kata. There's a different feeling when you link the steps. I'm going to begin practicing it both ways.

Next we worked on Releases 1-8, focusing on 5-8. Pat demonstrated how the same principles are present in all the releases: evade, get your hands up, and point your center at uke. When I focused on that instead of how the release was supposed to look or work, they went much better. I keep trying to lift my arm and do the turns when the line between my hand and foot is way outside my center. Again, when I "step through" that line, things seem to work much better, and I don't have to force the technique. Pat used the analogy of stepping through a barbed wire fence - stepping on the lower wire, and raising the upper one with your hand as you step through.

I need to remember that I shouldn't be forcing uke's hand down after the turns in 5-8. It's much better to position my body in such a way that my arm is able to just fall in a relaxed way. When that happens the technique works much better. Lastly, we camped out on release #6, moving into aikinage and aigamaeate.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Night Video - 3/13/09

My friend Ryan sent me this video yesterday. It reminded me of something I just read in Dave Lowery's book, The Karate Way. He talks about the old adage that "boards don't hit back". He makes the point that the force of the strike has to go somewhere, and if the board doesn't give, the energy goes right back into your hand....or head. So this guy asking for the holder to not let the board move at all, is only asking for a bigger headache, I think. It's still funny though.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday Thoughts 3/12/09

Tsunako Miyake was one of Kenji Tomiki's earliest students, and she was one of the founders of the Fugakukai, the organization under which I study Judo and Aikido. Last I heard she was an 8th degree black belt. This weekend during our lesson, Pat told me something she said that makes me laugh even now when I think about it...but may only be funny to me. I thought I'd make it this week's quote.

Ms. Miyake was demonstrating a kata with a student, and she (Miyake) screwed up a technique, or forgot which one she was doing, or something like that. She told the student:

"You so bad, you make 8th dan mess up!"

I just find that hilarious!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What-I'm-Reading Wednesday!

I just completed Nick Lowry's book, Aikido: Principles of Kata and Randori...for the 4th or 5th time. This was at least the 4th time I've read it. You can probably tell I'm a fan of this book.

Am I glad I read it? Duh.

Will I read it again? Duh.

Reflections? Every time I read this book, I get more out of it. Mostly, I'm sure, because I'm a little further along on the aiki path, and therefore I understand a little more of what he's talking about. For instance: In one section, he covers kazushi (off-balance), tsukuri (fitting), and kake (terminating the technique). Until this time through the book, I really had trouble "getting" tsukuri. I can now see that in my previous dojo, tsukuri just wasn't emphasized that much. We used to strive for a good kazushi, and if it was good enough, we'd execute the throw, lock, pin, or whatever (kake). A lot of the "synching up" and "tactile invisibility" and "hiding behind uke's arm" stuff I'm learning with Pat has really helped my understanding of tsukuri (not that I'm great at it, but I think I understand the concept now). So this time, when I read Mr. Lowry's explanation of tsukuri, I just went "Yeah, I see", where I couldn't before. This is one of many examples I could give to demonstrate the value this book has been, and will continue to be, to my training.

Recommended? If you study Tomiki Aikido, or one of its offshoots, I'd say this book is required reading, especially for the beginner.

Monday, March 9, 2009

One More Thought About Kata

I just read a really interesting interview Pat did of Marc "Animal" MacYoung. It reminded me of something else Pat was saying about kata and bunkai on Saturday (I'll paraphrase) -

"In most of the books, all you see of the kata are the positions you end up in at the end of each move, as if that's the most important part. What they're leaving out is how you get to that position...what happens leading up to it. That's where the good/important stuff is."

Bunkai Discussion

After our Aiki session on Saturday, Pat and I discussed kata bunkai for a little while. At the risk of repeating myself, my upbringing in striking arts (Tang Soo Do) taught that the kata or forms were meant to practice against imaginary opponents. Period. Nothing more. To be fair, I was a kid, and maybe that's just how they taught the stuff to that age group. So I'd practice low-blocking attack after attack from imaginary opponents while running through my forms at home.

I had always heard how these old karate masters "hid" their secret techniques in kata. "Hah!" I thought. "I don't see any hidden techniques! It's just a bunch of blocks and strikes!" (now I'm older and realize what "hidden" means).

I didn't realize until recently, as I'm getting interested in karate again, that there is definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to kata. In addition to the not-so-obvious applications of the particular techniques, Pat was talking about how the kata were devised partly as mnemonic devices for solo practice of more than just the kihon that were displayed in them (wrist releases, hair pulls, off balances - you name it!).

After our conversation, I'm starting to think karate kata have more in common with tegatana no kata than I originally thought. In tegatana (our style of Aikido's solo kata), none of the motions are actual techniques. Instead, each movement is an opportunity to practice certain types of motion...certain principles that get applied during paired kata, randori, or self defense situations. However, I suppose in karate kata, to paraphrase Sigmund Freud, sometimes a punch is just a punch.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Aikido, 3/7/09...It's A Doozy!

There is SO much to write about today's Aikido lesson. There was so much knowledge transmitted, I considered breaking this one training log up into 3 separate parts, but ultimately decided against it. So pour yourself a cup of whatever, get comfy, and enjoy!

The dojo theme for the month of March is...


I'll snatch a couple of quick definitions of ma-ai from Pat's blog:

"Ma-ai is the time-space relationship between attacker and defender"

"Ma-ai represents the distance at which uke first becomes an immediate danger to tori - but also a great enough distance that tori can still manage an evasion if uke attacks with maximum efficiency."

We started today's Aikido session with tegatana no kata. We focused on the idea that Pat talked about a few weeks ago - using the arms in conjunction with the feet, particularly with the body rises and body drops, while remembering to relax. We explored this more, and Pat showed how our arms (particularly in the more circular arm motions) describe a "track" or "rail" (let's call it a "trail") in space. During some of our transitions, if we get our bodies out of the way, our arms can continue along those trails from one movement to the next. It's really difficult to explain here, and if I tried to describe it, I'd be writing all night. I still need to remember not to try to lift my arm when my center is moving down. This time I found that the first arm motion in tegatana felt a lot like men-uchi with a bokken. I guess it's supposed to.

Next we worked on Releases 1-8. One through four felt okay to me, but confound it, five through eight feel like I'm trying to learn them for the first time! I used to feel like I did okay with them (in the old system), but Pat's approach is revolutionary to me, in a good way. I'm glad for the new (to me) way of doing them, as they make more sense, and I think they'll translate to more effective self defense.

Things I need to remember about releases:

1) Pat made a great point: if I'm synching up with uke well enough, I don't have to try that hard for an off-balance. Uke is off balance all the time anyway, and if I can get in synch, opportunities to exploit or enhance that off-balance will present themselves.

2) Keep my belly button lined up with (facing) my hand. In other words, keep my center facing the right way. I was having lots of trouble with this today, I think because I was trying to focus on synching up my steps with uke.

3) Those "trails" I was talking about earlier? They're present in the releases too. In fact, release 1 and release 2 inhabit the same trail. So do 3 and 4, 5 and 6, and 7 and 8. I'll try to describe: If the center point of the trail that 1 and 2 live on is uke's grab, if you go one direction, you're doing a number 1. If you go the other, you're doing release 2. Another way of putting it: If you start at the very end of a release 1 motion (the end of the technique), and travel backwards, and keep going, you move into a release 2. I hope that's clear. Maybe this way oversimplified diagram will help:

NOTE: Pat told me that Feldenkrais says "Good motion is motion that can be reversed. Spastic motion is bad and cannot be reversed". Example, the inadequate diagram I made above displays how you could start at the end of either release and find your way back to the starting point IF "good motion" was used. Things like coughing, or falling into a chair are examples of what Feldenkrais would call "bad motion".
4) Tori's hands follow the trail, they don't determine it! The trail is determined by uke!

5) In release #3, there's a tendency to want to use your free hand as "insurance" block uke from doing something mean while you're spending all that time on the "inside" of his reach. Use caution with this, because if a #3 really turns out to be a #7 (because you're following, not determining), your own hand will get in your way. Don't use that insurance hand until you're sure it's really going to be a #3.

Next we worked on Nijusan / Ju Nana Hon Kata #1-5.

- Shomenate went about as usual - no observations there.

- Aigamaeate and Gyakugamaeate (#2 and 3) are similar, and we discussed what determines when a #2 is called for, and when to do a #3. Basically, you want to use whichever hand is free (not blocking uke's arm) to do the strike/push. So if your hand nearest uke's wrist is free, you're going to do #2. If your hand that is closer to his elbow is free, you have a #3.

- Gedanate used to be a tough one for me, but it feels a little better now. Pat showed me a terrible (cool) variation of it. Instead of holding uke's arm above your head with our hand, throw his hand away behind you, over your shoulder and continue with the technique. As we played with that variation, I noticed it tends to happen more in front of uke than to his side, and the push tends to happen with your forearm against uke's chest or throat. At least that's how it seemed during practice today.

- Ushiroate is always a fun one. I need to remember to "walk" my hands up uke's arm, not slide them. I also need to grab over his shoulders in front of him, instead of just the tops of his shoulders. Pat showed how to do it in such a way that if the technique is not working out, it's easy to turn it into a separation rather than a throw. Then he demonstrated a couple of super cool variations. In one version, the way some karate guys do it, you reach around and cinch into a pressure point in the chest, forcing uke to sit down, which turns into a takedown/restraining technique similar to what law enforcement may use. The other variation just involved pulling the back of your thumbs into uke's windpipe as you pull him back. Pat did this to me and I was both shocked and awed. Very effective!

What a GREAT class today!

Judo, 3/7/09

Today we went from the "footsweep to control" drill to working on turning a failed kouchigari into a hip throw. The premise is, if uke jerks his feet back from you, but stays connected to you up top, he ends up leaning 30 degrees or so, and sets himself up for a hip or hand throw. I just need to remember to be careful with my footwork when turning around for the hip throw, and to get my center well under uke's.

We worked on the ground mobility cycle for a while next, then went into a review of escapes from the mount, with an emphasis on framing an arm under top guy after bridging, and moving hips to the opposite side as the leg you're trying to free up.

Next we worked on escapes from kamishiho (north-south). First up was the Bridge & Roll (trap one arm, put feet to the opposite side, and bridge over the shoulder on the same side you're trapping). Next was the "Spinout". In this one, you grab one of top guy's legs, throw your feet to the other side, then throw them back forcibly in the other direction while using your grabbing arm to help you spin out. This tends to put you under his side control (which may be easier to escape from), or enable you to put him in your guard. Lastly, the double bridge & roll. If you're setting up for a spinout escape (throwing your legs to the first side), and top guy readjusts to hold you better, when you throw your legs back and find the spinout hasn't worked, you can immediately bridge for a good escape. In this case, his defense against the spinout has set him up well for the bridge & roll.

A couple things I observed that I need to keep in mind: 1) Keep my own arms out of my way during escapes. 2) Learn to frame better when being held by kamishiho. Particularly, point my fingers toward my feet rather than my head - that'll keep my wrists from being bent back and sprained.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Night Video 3/6/09

A commercial I really liked:

On a martial arts note, here's an interview with Dr. He Young Kimm, founder of a Korean martial art called "HanMuDo". He's based right here in Baton Rouge. I'm not planning on studying this art, but I wanted to get ya'lls thoughts on it.

Heian Shodan

The only katas that really stuck with me from my days practicing Tang Soo Do are (the Korean versions of) Taikyoku Shodan and Taikyoku Nidan. One of the karate-do katas I'm trying to get familiar with on my own time at home is Heian Shodan. So far, the couple of things tripping me up are the things that differentiate this basic kata from Taikyoku 1 & 2.

First, there's a hammer fist or back fist, or something, as the fourth technique of the kata. This was never among the things I worked on back in the day. Same with the other thing that's most awkward to me - the sword hand blocks at the end of the kata. I think in a couple weeks Pat and I are going to do a karate lesson, so maybe it will get cleared up then, or in a subsequent lesson.

In the meantime, here's a video of the kata, for my reference:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thursday Thoughts 3/5/09

I'm a big believer in studying self-defense. When you need it, when seconds count, you may not have time to wait for the police, or the kindness of strangers to help you. I believe that to the extent possible, we have a responsibility to prepare and provide for the protection of ourselves and our families. Today's quote speaks directly to this idea:

In ourselves our safety must be sought,
By our own right hand it must be wrought.
~William Wordsworth

Having said all that, the quote did make me think of how ultimately, I am unable to protect myself and those I love from every conceivable threat. As a Christian, I take comfort in God's utter trustworthiness. Check out this post by Pat, and consider the following scriptures as they relate to self-defense.

Psalm 4:8
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for You alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety.

Isaiah 2:22
Stop trusting in human beings (that includes myself!),
who have but a breath in their nostrils.
Why hold them in esteem?

On a semi-related note, something I read this morning reminded me a lot of Judo, haha:

Psalm 36:11-12
May the foot of the proud not come against me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
See how the evildoers lie fallen -
thrown down, not able to rise!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What I'm Reading, 3/3/09

Another day, another book completed! To be fair, it's another technique book (lots of pictures), and not a very long one...and I did start on it before I finished Karate-Do Nyumon.

It's Best Karate, Volume 1; Comprehensive by Masatoshi Nakayama.

Am I glad I read it? You betcha!

Will I read it again? I will definitely refer to it constantly, at least in the beginning of my karate training.

Reflections? I actually like this book way more than Funakoshi's Nyumon. The pictures and descriptions are more accurate and easier to follow and understand. I also like the size of the book better, but that's a small's just more comfortable to hold.

Recommended? If you're looking for a beginner's text / introduction to karate techniques, absolutely!

Kata Study

Until I formally begin training in karate-do, I'm working on a few of the techniques on my own. As I said in a previous post, I've mainly been working on parts of tennokata omote. I'm about to begin studying Heian Shodan, Tekki Shodan, and Sanchin at home, to get started. I'll mainly be using the Best Karate series by Masatoshi Nakayama as a reference.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What I'm Reading 3-2-09

I just finished Karate-Do Nyumon: The Master Introductory Text by Gichin Funakoshi.
Am I glad I read it? Yes.

Will I read it again? I will refer to it again, especially as I try to learn the tennokata omote.

Reflections? Much of the material was repeated verbatim from Funakoshi's "My Way of Life" autobiography, so I was able to skim a lot. Some descriptions of techniques are unclear, some are just plain incorrect. The pictures also sometimes conflict with the written instruction.

Recommended? Overall, yes.

Couldn't Wait Until Friday

I have a very short video I'd like to post, and I just couldn't wait until Friday to do it!

I've been playing bass for over 16 years now (wow, I just did that One of my favorite bass players, and a guy I look up to and learn a lot from is Victor Wooten. He's amazing, and has really helped revolutionized the role of the electric bass. He's forever talking about music being a language...a way to express yourself. He says techniques and music theory are like letters in the alphabet or grammar. He talks about how when we speak to express ourselves, we don't think about the letters, we just use them to make words, use the words to make sentences, and so on.

I've gotten to a point in my bass playing where I feel like I'm past thinking about technique very much. Not that I'm a master at the instrument, but I do feel better able to express myself on it than I used to. I look forward to that level of proficiency in martial arts...that level of artistic expression. Victor's advice in the clip that follows reminds me of a Bruce Lee quote: "Remember, you are expressing the technique, not doing the technique."

There, you've gotten a Thursday Thought AND a Friday Night Video on a Monday! Could it get any better than this?!?

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Okay, so I have not officially begun training in karate-do yet, but I think I will add it to my list of pursuits soon. Based on discussions I've had with Pat, I really look forward to it, and think it will be a blast.

After our Aikido lesson Saturday, Pat demonstrated just a bit of karate for me. I practiced Tang Soo Do for years as a young child, making it about 75% to black belt. I briefly started it again early last year, but quit when I found I would be one of the only people in the class over 4 feet tall (lots of kids)...awkward. I've always been a fan of karate, but my understanding of kata was limited, to put it mildly. I've only just begun to learn about bunkai. Before, I thought a down block in a kata simulated blocking a low strike or kick, end of story. I had no idea how many potential applications might be contained in the most basic movements. Pat's been able to clear some of that up for me, and it's like I was blind, and now I (begin to) see!

We've also discussed how karate does not necessarily have to conflict with Aikido training, in terms of short-circuiting the evasion reflex we try to develop in Aikido. Pat wrote a fantastic article about that here. It really broadened my view.

So, as my interest in karate-do has been rekindled, I've been reading more about it. As I said in an earlier post, I recently finished Funakoshi's Karate-Do; My Way of Life. Now I'm reading his Karate-Do Nyumon. I'm trying to reacquaint myself with some of the stances, strikes, etc.

So for this pseudo-training log, I'll just mention what I worked on from it tonight.

Tennokata Omote:
  • Chudan Oi-zuki (middle level thrust punch)
  • Jodan Oi-zuki (upper level thrust punch)
  • Chudan Gakyu-zuki (middle level reverse punch)
  • Jodn Gakyu-zuki (upper level reverse punch)

I didn't count the repetitions, but there were many. I will surely need Pat's correction on things as I get back into this stuff.