Monday, August 30, 2010

Aikido (and a bit of Karate), 8/28/2010

We started with tegatana. A little faster than usual again. I was thinking about the difference between “falling into a step” and “driving” a step with the “back” leg. It’s a tough thing to make my body to do that. I also noticed something about the “helicopter” step, the second turn; I’ve always done it trying to lift my arm during a body drop (while taking a step). I noticed Pat doing it differently, and I’ll be working on that for a while.

We went through releases, focusing on 2 and 6. We also looked at 4’s relationship to 8 and a lot of other things: release 1 into release 2, into a kotegaeshi or a release 6. Then a release 3 into release 4, into a release 8.

Next we played some randori with releases 1 and 3 as a loose “baseline”, and saw lots of other things show up.

Somehow this blended well into a bear hug escape/defense/counter, and defense against a double wrist grab from the rear. We took this into a sort of pseudo-karate class, ending with a couple kihon.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Aikido, 8-14-10

We did our walking kata twice. I tried moving from the center like I re-read recently in Nick’s Aikido book. Pat reminded me of the “keel” idea to help accomplish that. Without trying to sound too spooky new-age here, it’s crazy how different visualizations can make a difference in your movement. The second time through, we tried to imagine our “off” hand being the “doing” hand. That makes a big difference. We noted how that made the “hip switch” part of the kata feel like honasu #2 and #4 at the same time.

Next we worked on releases, focusing on #3 and being in inferior positions. This led to an introduction to “Ichi kata”, a more rarely practiced kata among our Tomiki brethren. Within the techniques in ichi kata, we explored a few concepts, like tori moving his body rather than trying to force uke to move his. This was mind blowing for me, and reeked of the essence of aiki. It was one of those huge revelations that I must have been told 50 times, but I’m just now seeing it. We also looked at the “90 degree principle”, and Pat reminded me that 90 degrees from any direction exists on multiple planes. In other words, if uke resists along the Y axis, he’s weak along the X axis…BUT he’s also weak along the Z axis! Wow.

We ended the lesson with a few minutes of Hubud drilling, and a discussion of the hammer fist (wrist release) bunkai from karate’s heian shodan kata, and bunkai from the punches in sanchin. The latter led to some verrrrrrrrry cool wrist locks and striking opportunities. The withdrawal of the punch uses the “off” hand to either scrape off a grab or lock up uke’s wrist from a wrist grab. I love this stuff.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Judo, 8-7-10

We started out with ukigoshi. I felt only the tiniest bit better about it than I used to. This throw always gives me fits.

Seoinage was next. This is also a tough one for me. So many things to remember! I need to get lower and closer to uke.

We looked at a trick to defeat someone’s stiff arm: slap the stiff arm for the seoinage, and if it doesn’t go, circle back the other way for a sode.

This led into a discussion about bunkai for the first couple of steps of heian shodan (karate kata), of all things! I won’t even try to explain how, but the two were pretty similar. We ended up playing with that bunkai for almost the rest of our time, and man it’s cool. For the last part of the lesson, we looked at the first few movements in sanchin kata and associated bunkai.

I’ll post more on this later, but karate is becoming more and more interesting to me these days, for a few reasons.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aikido, 8-7-10

I’m behind on my training logs for this weekend because I temporarily misplaced my notes. Imagine the wealth of knowledge that would have been lost to history had these documents not been recovered.

That morning was one of those times I really felt like staying in bed. I’m so glad I went to train though, because it was a really fun lesson.

We started with a faster-than-normal tegatana. I noted it was tougher to keep my balance when going faster. Pat’s remedy: Be sure to get my feet and center under me as soon as possible. Like when you balance a broom on your hand. You don’t try to swing the top of the broom to a balanced position, you move the bottom under it.

Next we worked on releases, and we did those more quickly than usual as well. We looked at being wrong-footed (in synch, but out of “phase”) with uke, and how the problem could be solved by simply turning around. This is tough to explain without demonstrating it, but let me try: If you’re following (flowing/fitting with) uke and you’re stepping with your left foot while he’s stepping with his right foot, you could A) do a shuffle step to get in matching step with him (but that adds more chaos to the relationship) or you could B) change your relationship to him by turning to face him. You don’t miss a beat and it’s a very natural, aiki-like fix to the problem.

We moved on to reviewing Ju Nana 6 – 10. My oshi taoshi (#6) is feeling better than it ever has, I think (not that I’m an expert – it’s all relative), and I’m starting to see it show up a little more when I’m goofing off with friends and not looking for it.

We looked at how ude gaeshi (#7) can be sort of like kote gaeshi, depending on if you’re rotating around uke’s wrist or his elbow. I’ve been tending more toward the wrist lately, but will remind myself that #7 is an elbow thing and correct it.

Hiki taoshi (#8) didn’t feel as good as #6, but it did feel better than it has in the past. Of the rank material I'm working on now (#6 - 10), this is the one I feel least comfortable with (aside from just remembering enteries, etc). I think I just need more reps with this one.

Ude hineri (#9) was easy enough; we looked at it as sort of a get-out-of-the-way #8.

We looked at a couple of variations of waki gatame (#10). A “classic” evasion version vs. a “crash into the guy” version. We explored #10’s relationship to #8; In #8, both of tori’s hands are in “pushing” positions. In #10, one hand is in a pushing posture and the other is in a pulling position, so you extend uke along the arm (like thrusting a spear) rather than across it (like in #8). Really interesting. We also looked at the importance of continuous motion during #10 to keep uke from regaining a stable base or scooping your legs. Sort of a “walking gatame”, har-har!