Life is full of things that are simple, yet profound. I found one such dichotomy in the BLT I made for supper tonight. It increased my faith, it was that good. Nothing special; toasted bread, mayo, and the aforementioned B, L, and T. Oh, I did cook the tomatoes a little in the bacon grease, but only a little.
Today we had an all day aikido playday at the dojo. Lots of people were invited to share their magic with the rest of us. The only instructer that showed up besides Pat was a super nice guy named Tony, who's had experience in not only aikido, but wing chun, tai chi, and kali. I'll go ahead and admit right up front that we covered a wide variety of things today, so there's no way I can touch on everything; I'll just hit a couple of high points.
We started out with releases into ukemi to warm up. We pretty quickly moved into a (CMA flavored) variation of Pat's "cow catcher" as an entry to a one-handed shihonage. This was fun to play with, partly because we were working it as a defense against a traditional punch (as opposed to aikido's zombie arm attack), and with more speed. It was neat (encouraging) to see and feel the thing work against a more realistic attack.
After we came back from lunch, we explored some kali stuff for fun. I noticed an odd similarity between the "Heaven 6" kali drill we learned and our movements for shomenate. We also looked at some stick disarms.
One other thing I noticed; one of the attendees was one of Pat's other judo students, who's had no experience with aikido. So during our first exercise, ukemi out of releases, I needed to show him release 1. While I'd love to pass on the art someday as a teacher, that brief experience (before Pat thankfully stepped in and did his thing) showed me how far I have to go; I was not explaining the thing successfully. At this point, I can barely do the stuff, much less teach someone else to do it. Maybe one day.
It was a fun time, and a really great day. Thanks for putting this together, Pat.
"Your name, for better or worse, is associated with your dojo and not just for the technical teaching that goes on there. You do not get to choose who will make that association and how it will be done."
The Karate Way; Discovering the Spirit of Practice
So I finally made the return trip to Pat's. The dojo was being painted, so we trained out in the driveway. We started out with tegatana no kata, and it's a whole different thing when you're doing it on sloped concrete, with shoes on. We did one rep, then turned 90 degrees and did it again. Changing the slope affected the kata as well. I told Pat a few months ago that I hated tegatana; now I feel like that was more of a temporary spat. I'm not gonna say I'm in love with it, but I don't feel like I hate it any more.
We moved on to Releases, 1-8. I am very rusty, as I suspected. We focused on #2. We looked at how when you emphasize the "up" motion in that release (and #4 for that matter), it makes it much harder for uke to turn back around toward you.
Pat transitioned from Release 2 into Ju Nana #15, Maeotoshi. If you look at the brief "up moment" in maeotoshi as being at the top of a hill with uke, I kept trying to push him down off the hill. If I do that, uke has a chance to react or respond to what I'm doing, and compensate for it. However, if I just hang out with uke until he makes the move to get down, I can respond to that and take advantage of it to "send him on his way." This idea of letting him do what he wants to do rather than trying to force him into what I want him to do seems like the very essence of aiki to me. Incidentally, I found that tactile sensitivity was required to do this best. When I tried to guess when he was going to "come down" it didn't work so well - but when I felt when he was coming down through my connection to him, I got better results.
"Your eyes can deceive you... don't trust them"
~ Obi-Wan Kenobi
Next Pat previewed Ju Nana 16 and 17 for me, then backed up and we took a quick look at 11 through 14.
We ended our lesson with a discussion of karate, and had a brief look at Sanchin kata.
Where do I start? My training has been very topsy-turvy the past few months. I'll try to summarize what's been happening.
Since I've been training at Pat's, I've been getting up at 5:30am most Saturdays, and driving almost an hour and a half to his dojo (one-way). That drive began to get really old. So four or five months ago, I made the difficult decision to stop training there, at least temporarily, but possibly for good. I was still training BJJ at the local Gracie Barra school at the time, and thought I would a) get out of BJJ what I loved about judo, and b) be able to just discontinue my aikido training.
I was wrong on both counts. Training at the GB school wasn't like training at Pat's. I've since stopped training there for two main reasons: First, on the nights I trained, I didn't see my lettle girl at all. I left for work before she was awake, and got home after she was asleep. That's okay for some people, but I didn't like it. I spend enough time away from my family during the day, for my taste. Secondly, I was tired of rolling with people who didn't wash their gis. It seemed like a third of the people I rolled with there smelled like sour milk.....or worse. I didn't want to learn the art that badly.
As far as thinking I'd be able to cope with not training aikido any more, that was just silly thinking. Aikido is what I consider my "main" discipline (even though I'm still pretty new), and by far my favorite.
I addition, I felt Pat's philosophy of martial arts in general lined up with my own, and that's not something that's easy to find, especially not around here.
So after much consideration, I decided it was indeed worth it to continue making the drive to Pat's every week. Maybe all I needed was a break to get a second wind. But once the decision was made to resume, for several weeks, things kept coming up that prevented me from returning. Talk about discouraging.
But the encouraging thing is I'm back. I made it back to the dojo yesterday for the first time in four or five months, and it was great. I'll return to posting regular training logs and other stuff on this new blog.
There are lots of exciting things coming up in terms of my training, our dojo, and our organization, that I'll touch on when the times are right. For now, stay tuned.