Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kazoku, 8/30/11

Just one student again last night: Michael.

We were pressed for time so we skipped ukemi. We reviewed what we've learned so far in the walking kata, and added the first two turns.

We did an extended review of releases 1 & 2, then introduced 3 & 4. Pat showed me a tweak that I think helped Michael keep that unbendable arm in release 1. His #2's felt pretty good and natural. We focused on synchronizing footfalls and letting uke determine where and how you step after the initial evasion. We also talked about having a relaxed arm (as tori), but not one that's completely turned that yields and fits and blends with uke, but also redirects his energy. Being directed, and directing. Welcome to the wonderful, frustrating, amazing, dichotomy that is aikido, haha! He picked up releases 3 & 4 just fine.

Next we had an extended review of Junana #1 (shomen ate), then I introduced Junana #2 (aigamae ate). We talked about how the evasion/off-balance for #2 shows up a lot from here on out. Michael's "#2 off-balance" was quite nice and effective. He seemed to get it very well, and almost threw me a couple of times with the off-balance alone. We worked on the "kata version" as well as Pat's "hiding around the corner" version. I did a quick intro to junana #3 (gyakugamae ate) just to demonstrate its relationship to #2. Something he can keep in mind as he practices is to wait for uke's reactionary step(s) to do the throw. I still have trouble "waiting on uke" as well, particularly on #15 - it's an easy thing in a lot of these techniques to jump ahead of and rush.

With the little bit of time left, our Cool Ninja Technique of the Day was Junana #10 (waki gatame) as the ura waza (countering technique) to Junana #1, and we cooled down with a little light randori.

Another great class!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kazoku, 8/25/11

Last night was the second class for our little group. Littler, even - only one student this time: Michael.
We started with ukemi (back falls), and Michael said he felt better about them this week than last week. He was eager to learn forward rolls, which I attempted to teach, and he picked it up much faster than I did when I was starting out.

We reviewed the first 3 parts of tegatana (walking kata) and added the next 4 (the pushes). Focus was on staying on the balls of the feet and moving our arms effeciently (not trying to pick an arm up when our body was dropping).

Next we reviewed Release 1, and ended up spending most of the class on it. I felt like we got a lot of good work in on this release. Really productive reps. It was a challenge for him to do the release without bending his arm too much to get into position, but there was a ton of stuff he was getting very right (synchronizing footwork, footwork timing, off balance, etc). And we all have things to work on in the releases, so he can join the club, haha! Some of the reps went a little haywire, but he was good at doing something (as opposed to freezing up), and usually it was enough - it got him off the line and made me unbalanced enough to have to take another step.

We discussed how some schools adhere more closely to the kata forms in order to internalize the principles, and others are less bound by the kata and primarily observe the principles (we're more in the latter category). We talked about not getting so focused on the kata that we forget what we're doing is getting out of the way and getting hands up; we try not to get the kata before the horse (sorry, I couldn't resist, and if said in a certain way, is a lot funnier than reading it).

For the last part of the class, we worked on release 2 as an option when release 1 won't go.

In the spirit of Pat, we ended with a couple "cool ninja techniques of the day". My ninja-ness being modest at best, I showed him a neat kote hineri from someone putting a hand on your shoulder, as well as something I can't remember the name of (uke grabs lapel or pushes, you feed that energy back to him in the form of a push or a strike or an eye rake - just giving him something to think about while you take possession of the hand he gave you to control his wrist and destroy his posture).

I was more aware of my time management - which is to say I noted how much time I spent on different things. I felt more prepared and more orgnaized, but there's still lots of room for improvement.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


For the past few months, I’ve been working on getting an aikido class together that I could teach locally (My teacher is 75 miles away). Well, it didn’t pan out exactly like I originally thought it might, but last Thursday, I did teach my first aikido class. It’s a milestone I’m pretty excited about. I’ll be keeping track of training logs here for that class too. We’re calling our group “Kazoku Dojo” – “kazoku” means “family” in Japanese.

Students for the night were Michael, Melissa, and Kim. 2 of the 3 were being exposed to aikido for the very first time, so we began with simple back falls, concentrating on sitting-more-than-falling, and tucking our chins to make sure our heads didn’t hit the mat. Then a brief introduction to forward rolls from a kneeling position.

After a short explanation of what kata is (solo and paired), we went over the first 3 sections of our walking kata. We focused on “dropping” into the step rather than “shifting our weight east in order to travel west”. We also focused on bringing the “following foot” along without dawdling.

We then practiced using those same steps to evade an incoming zombie-arm attack. Just to demonstrate the idea of getting-out-of-the-way. We moved from that into the “aiki brush-off” concept that Pat teaches, which led nicely into Junana #1 (Shomen ate).

We ended the class with Release #1, and a little bit of Release #2, with a focus on synchronizing with uke's steps and finding the right timing to seperate and create distance.

Somewhere in all of that we talked about the how and why of “same-hand-same-foot”.

I’m thrilled about the prospect of teaching, and acutely aware of my insufficiency to do so. But it’s all part of learning, right? I do need to learn to organize the class time better….we have class again tonight, so we’ll see how I manage!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Aikido, 8/13/11

We started with walking, then moved on to Releases, with a focus on 1-4. We worked on creating an off-balance by continuing uke's line, and not providing him a stable base with which to regain his balance. One of the big takeaways for me was to let uke determine where my second step in the release is placed. We also worked on using releases 2 and 5 as options for a failed or stuck release 1.

Next we did some "cow-catcher" drills that evolved into junana #1, and we spent the rest of the class on junana 1 & 2. We played with getting a junana 2 from each release as well.

We ended the class with some fun randori and a little groundwork.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Aikido, 7/9/11

I'm still pretty behind, but I'll catch up soon!

We started with Walking, then moved to releases, which I found were still jacked up for me. Pat added “sticking to uke” to the other 2 new ideas we’ve recently been trying to keep in mind (structural weakness and the footwork in release 6 & 8). Altogether mind blowing, but so much fun! We explored the “releasefeeling vs the “stickyfeeling for a while.

Then we did all of Junana as a big chain, and began mixing and matching different techniques from here and there in the kata. After that we looked at floating throws, and focused on #17. It was pretty cool: we discovered that it didn’t make too much difference how you float the guy, as long as you float him. Could be the typical kata, or another "whatever-presents-itself" variation.

We ended the class with some fun (as always) randori, and a review of the second part of Ichi kata.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Aikido, 7/2/11

We started with walking, and I had a ton of mental hiccups. We talked about the cyclic feeling of regression & progress, and about how everything in aikido can be practiced in the walking kata.

We worked on releases, but mine were pretty jacked up for 2 reasons (I think):
1) I was thinking about the "Structural" component (as opposed to just the timing component) Pat introduced the previous week.
2) I was thinking about the footwork for 6 & 8 that Pat "fixed" the previous week. It seemed like this round of releases was worse than before he "fixed" them!
I think I was just thinking about too much. We discussed Thomas Edison's "Failures" as a way to encourage me, haha.

Next we worked on "light touch" wrist releases with an emphasis on connection and sensitivity, and moved into randori with a focus on finding the right times to yield and the right positions to smack.

We worked on junana #17 which is a really weird animal to me. We played with a couple different ways to float uke, including an "aiki-strikey" version.

We looked at ichi kata, and I'm getting a little more familiar with that. We discussed different emphases in teh advanced kata: Big, fast, light, hard, etc.

We also looked at a technique from judo's goshinjitsu and a similar technique from san kata.

We ended with a tricky version of junana #2. It was like a "micro iriminage" and is useful when uke resists being smashed with #2.