Sunday, November 29, 2009

Falling Hard

I bought the book "Falling Hard" today, by Mark Law. He is a journalist that took up judo when he was nearly 50 years old, and wrote this book about his experiences.

I read the first two chapters today, and thought I'd post two quotes from the book here:

"A white belt at the dojo is like a toddler at a tea party, and demands a similar etiquette: people must take turns to play with him;it is incumbent upon everyone to encourage him, praise his simplest achievements, and not laugh when he falls over."

"If someone banged a tennis ball past me, it was hardly the end of the world. It was just a game. When someone threw me on the floor of the dojo, it didn't seem like a game at all. I was much affected. The former reflected badly on my ability at tennis. The latter reflected badly on me. And if ever I threw someone, it seemed somehow to be a worthwhile achievement, unlike scoring a goal, or a point with a ball."

I like the book so far. I think it'll be a fun read.

Aikido, 11/28/09

Well, since not writing training logs hasn't worked out so well, I thought I'd get back to it.

We started with Tegatana, and considered how there are no "dead movements". None of the steps are there just to get you back to the starting place in preparation for the next step. Every motion is a "move". Thinking about it this way made it seem like a longer kata! Twice as long! With twice as much to focus on.
We went through Releases 1 - 8 next. I mentioned how in 6, it's difficult for me to immediately follow uke's movement. I feel like I have to take a loooong awkward step to change direction and flow with him. With a little experimentation, I found that my #6 is awkward because my #2 has been wrong all this time. I discovered that the whole time I've been doing #2, I've been thinking of the whole technique as a "thing" (I think this will be hard to explain). Like this: "Ah! He's grabbing my wrist like that, so in response, I need to blah, blah, blah, blah, and end up like this (picture the ending of release 2)." But the approach I should have been taking is "Ah! He's grabbing my wrist; I need to step off the line (evade), and point my center at him, then flow with whatever he's doing."

Pat talked about making my reflexive reaction simpler - step off the line and face the guy - rather than trying to make the entire #2 motion my reflexive response. After this epiphany, my #6 was going much better. It felt more like I was at an intersection, and could choose to go right or left (#2 or #6, based on what uke does), rather than having to make a U-turn... in a large truck... on a narrow lane... with deep ditches on each side.

Next, we worked on Oshitaoshi and Udegaeshi (junana 6 and 7, respectively). The way Pat teaches oshitaoshi is different from the classical version, and different from how I've ever seen it. I find it interesting to play with variations to explore what makes a technique what it is. I imagine it helps me understand more about the "core" or "essence" of whatever technique we're working on. We looked at udegaeshi coming from uke escaping/resisting the oshitaoshi, as well as coming from an evasion in the wrong direction by tori. In the latter case, you can do the thing immediately if uke's arm is relaxed. If it's stiff, you can use the arm as a rudder to move him in a circle until the technique happens more naturally (no way I can describe that here).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Soaking It All In

Well once again, I've neglected posting training logs for a couple of weeks. I've been to class, but still have been either unmotivated or too mentally exhausted to write.

If I'm honest (and why shouldn't I be - it's just us, right?), I'll admit that part of the reason I've been neglecting my training logs is that I've been experiencing some frustration in both judo and aikido. Lately, I just haven't felt like I'm progressing. Sometimes I feel like I'm regressing. So I thought maybe I was thinking about it too much....over analyzing it. So I stopped taking such detailed notes after lessons. I don't think that's helped though.

In aikido, I've felt like my releases have been stinking more and more. In judo, well, I feel like all of that stinks, but especially my newaza. This past Saturday, I felt like I couldn't accomplish anything with our groundwork. I'd get armbarred pretty quickly, or I'd end up on the bottom, being crushed into submission. It gets frustrating. Maybe one day I'll improve.

I'm not trying to whine too badly about it - just expressing my feelings for the blog's sake. I hope one day I can look back at this and see that it was just a part of the process.

Pat's been encouraging and helpful as always. He does recommend I roll with a greater variety of people if I want to improve my grappling more quickly. I'll be checking out the Gracie-Barra BJJ school again in a week or two.

Until then, I'm just sort of marinating in this feeling, trying to put things in perspective, and remember why I love aiki and judo so much. I'm just trying to soak in all the coolness in both arts that I've been exposed to lately.

I've been very jazzed about Pat's interpretation of deashi barai as foundational to other judo throws...I think it makes a little sense to me. In aikido, we've been looking at the honasu releases, as well as the yon kata ones, which I've never been exposed to before. Aikido amazes me.