Saturday, July 26, 2014

Aikido, 7-19-14 - Bode Clinic

Last week we had a clinic with JW Bode. I wasn't able to attend the whole thing, but the few hours I was there were pretty great. We worked on covering the attacker's hands as a sort of light-touch sensitivity drill, and worked most of our basic 17 from there.  Of course we emphasized Bode's method of not throwing an attacker away, but keeping him under control the entire time. It's a great option to work on.

Here's my biggest takeaway: for the second time in a couple of weeks, and from different sources, I was shown that speed isn't the same as timing. Consequently, I don't need to be in a big rush to do whatever thing I happen to be doing. At least not if I'm doing it correctly.

Another concept we worked on can be summed up by a Bode quote:

"If you're not cheating, you're not trying hard enough to survive"

Right up my alley!

My toe is healing up slowly-but-nicely, and I'm looking forward to getting back to regular training!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Aikido / Judo, 7-5-14

Yesterday was the first time in quite a while I've been back to Pat's to train. We camped out mostly on Release 1, and the new way Pat's been doing it. It feels brand new to me again, and it's a little confusing. I think I "get it" conceptually, but doing it correctly is another thing entirely. It reminds me of when I first started and felt like there were a couple dozen things to keep in mind for each release. Looking forward to getting enough reps of this new way that I don't have to think about it much. It will be nice when can I gather with my students again and see how the tweaks figure in to the way we've been doing releases.  There was an emphasis on keeping the slack out of the uke/tori connection by changing the direction of the energy. I need to remember to maintain a "push" throughout, not a bunch of alternating pushes and pulls (which keeps creating slack). I also need to remember to "release with my feet" and not try to do the whole thing with my arm. Like I said, I'm feeling like a white belt again with this new approach!

Pretty much all of the aikido portion of the class was spent playing with Release 1. That was really cool, but it got even cooler when we started terminating it with iriminage or aegamaeate. And it reached the Miles-Davis-level coolness when we ended it with a hip throw! We went from there into using Release 1 as an entry to other judo throws. Blew. My. Mind.

We focused on ending every technique in a dominant position (ukigatame, or knee-on-belly). Lastly, we played judo/aikido randori, including a little ground work. It exposed a great need I have: to get back to training judo and drilling hundreds of reps of basic throws. I stopped training judo while only a green belt, and that was two or three years ago. It's time for me to go back and relearn the alphabet, so I can relearn how to form a few words, and move on to some communication, figuratively speaking. Our randori ended with my little toe getting dislocated or broken - my first injury in about 7 years of aikido, less than that of judo. Hurts like the dickens!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Goodbye, BJJ. Hello again, Judo.

Thursday I went for a private BJJ lesson with a blue belt I know.  I've been of two minds regarding BJJ for a while now, and I went partly to help settle my thoughts about it. More on that in a bit.

After a warmup, we worked on a shrimping variation that uses the opposite leg you'd normally use to shrimp. It allows you to keep your "top" leg up as a guard against your opponent. Difficult at first, but kind of neat.

We worked on a couple things from having someone in your closed guard; first, we played with sort of a scissor sweep variation, that allowed a really easy arm bar if it failed (or even if it didn't). It depended on sort of a "cheat" though (grabbing the inside of the pants leg), at least by competition rules. Next we worked on survival while under side control, easily one of the most miserable (and frequent) positions I often find myself in. It just involved the basics of trying to build a frame and making top guy as uncomfortable as you are.

I've really been struggling with whether or not I want to pursue BJJ again. On one hand (the "pros" column), it's a magnificent art. Endlessly interesting. And effective within certain constraints. On the other hand, ("cons") it's expensive, and it's a big time investment on weeknights, which are already packed for me. While it's great exercise, I've already been doing much better with exercise lately on my own, and BJJ always makes me feel more like I've been through a meat grinder than that I've had a good workout. One of the biggest "cons" is that all of the BJJ around here is very sport-focused. I'm way more interested in practical self-defense, so I don't care to spend time on X-Guards, using my gi to wrap my opponent's hand, etc.

For these and other reasons, I've decided not to pursue BJJ any more, but to start learning Judo again. It's been a while, so I'm super rusty, and will probably just start from the beginning again. Pat's Judo is more traditional, in that it's more self-defense oriented, not geared for competition. I won't win any BJJ tournaments with it (they're two different things, despite the similarities), but that doesn't align with my goals anyway.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Checking In

Here's another one of those "I haven't blogged in a while" posts. I won't belabor my inactivity. Instead, I'll give a brief update on what I've been up to these last 6-9 months:

For several months I taught a small Aikido class at my home, as well as at my church. Sadly, scheduling was too much of a hassle for it to continue. I had a couple students who took it seriously and wanted to learn, and for their sake, I may start teaching again. There just aren't enough hours in the week!

I let my Concealed Carry Instructor cert expire with the State Police, but I renewed it and am able to teach the class again now.

I trained at a karate school near my house for several weeks, and was hopeful it was going to be what I am looking for in karate instruction... but I quit when we started the heavily "sportified" sparring.  I'm just not interested in competition/sport martial arts. My little girl is training at that school though, and I'm glad about that - at 6 years old, I'm not afraid sportified sparring will ruin her (and the rest of the instruction seems good).

I'm beginning to prep again! I'm really excited about that. Life gets in the way so much. I *plan* on blogging about that specifically (we'll see how it goes, no promises) over at

I'm planning on returning to training with my Aikido and Judo teacher next weekend! It's been too long!

My wife and I converted our spare bedroom into a home gym. We've been doing a modified "Stronglifts 5X5" workout consistently for 8 weeks now, every other day!  This is (sadly) the most consistent I've ever been with an exercise regimen, and I'm slowly but surely seeing results.

That's about it - I'm going to try to blog more, but I've said that before. Back on the horse....