Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Love and Fear

"We Contribute to Our Own Failure" was a post recently made on Pat's site and if you're reading this, please go there and click on his link to the Classic Aiki Story there. My post is in reference to that. Someone special to me once said that humans only have two emotions and all other emotions are derived from those two. Those two emotions are love, and fear. I thought about this concept and how it fit into my aiki training. It's true, I'd love to get into a classic example of a mugger taking an old lady's purse and gracefully tossing him to the earth, handing the lady back her purse and have her thank me. When I really sat down and thought about why I'd like a real life situation to occur for my Aikido though, it's not out of some need for gratitude, it's out of fear. Fear that maybe what I'm learning I won't be able to perform when I really need to. Fear that I'd let my Sensei and myself down when it really came down to it. Therefore, I want a black and white confrontation to have a definite answer. Pat's was about there not usually being a black and white circumstance. Mine's about this desire to test my skills being misled. I keep doing Aikido because I love Aikido. I get immense joy out of blending with someone and moving with them. I get just as much out of being Uke and letting Tori toss me and improving someone else's Ability. While I was down at the Mokuren dojo for my Aiki weekend, Pat was telling me about how almost everyone who gets into Aikido initially gets into it because it seems magical and there seems an element of control over another person that we all want to learn. The farther we progress though we learn that the idea of controlling someone else is an illusion and we start liking it for what it really is. The higher up the chain of Aikidoka you go however, the more "magical" the abilities of people seem to be, even to those that practise Aikido already, until they get to that point, and so on, and so on. I'd just like everyone reading this to really ask themselves why they got into Aikido initially (the actual motivation), and why they're still doing it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

the Incident...

Please read the previous post for back story. I'll be the first to admit I occasionally horse around in the dojo. If waki-gatame is being demonstrated on me, after the 2nd time I might try to Gedan-ate my way out of it. I only try these things on Pat since he's 5th degree and I know that he's expecting it and I never go for anything serious. It's a bad habit I have and Pat usually makes me pay for that Gedan-ate attempt by introducing me to the floor or setting waki-gatame as an armbar. That being said, I was working with Patrick, who by the way has a really interesting feel during honasu number 5 with the turning under the arm since he doesn't counterbalance, on a chain in Nijusan. Patrick tends to get over-zealous from time to time and he made a move during the exercises to put me into tenkai-kote geishi but jumped into it. Since we were moving slow and he dove into this full force it caught me off guard and he didn't let go of my wrist so I dove backwards into the mat to save my wrist from being broken. I got up and told him to take it slow and cool off and he tried it again so I moved with him at normal speed and reversed the hold and broke away from him. He was giggling and saying "good stuff man, good stuff" and it occurred to me he didn't realize the severity of what just happened. He leaves his phone on during class, he's come before with his Gi reeking of smoke (thought not for a while) and it's never addressed. I only come down once in a while so I don't really mind anymore, but I used to when I was there. I was just wondering if anyone else has any advice on how to deal with the student that doesn't seem to listen....other than bringing it to the attention of the Sensei. Sensei Pat has the patience of a Saint, unfortunately I haven't developed that yet.

A Learning Weekend

Well I know Andy and Pat have made a few posts about the Friday and Saturday Aikido/Judo weekend already, but here are a few words from me about it. The weekend started off with me and Andy arriving at the dojo a few hours before Pat so we warmed up and commences some standing Judo randori after I refreshed him on some basic throws. I have to say his Aikido defiantly shows in his Judo, he's gotten noticeably better since the last time we did anything. He got me with a few good throws and I got one or two on him before Pat showed up. Right before class me and Andy did some ground work in Judo. He did pretty well for someone who hasn't done it before except for maybe a class or two a few years ago. I was amazed how this time I didn't go for any arm-bars or chokes...they just happened. My hands just fell in the right place which brings me to something Pat was mentioning on his blog. This was the first class where I felt like a Sankyu. I could do all the moves at will (not always fluidly, but I could make them happen), and I just felt really comfortable in my rank for once. According to Pat that means I need to be promoted and taken out of my comfort zone again. That Friday during class we did a little Owaza and went over Nijusan. I remember Andy saying that he was curious how the feeling would be different with the more linear Junanna I was practising with Bryce and how that would transfer. Before I left we both agreed that there was no noticeable difference in feeling. Kary, an old buddy me and Andy used to work with showed up after class so all three of us stayed the night at Pat's house to get up early for Aikido in the morning. Sat morning the dojo was freezing. It must've been 30 degrees in there. It didn't feel warm till the 2nd or 3rd hour right before practise was over. I got a chance to work with Pat's other students, Kristoff the exchange student, and Patrick the one armed student Pat references to from time to time in his posts. Kristoff seems really fluid in his motions, I just hope as time progresses his attacks as Uke become more committed, I think it's a little confusing to the other students when they try to move with an attack that's not there. There was a slight incident with Patrick which I'll post separately in a second. After class I took some video footage of Pat and Andy doing Nijusan then the Kihara chains. Pat may or may not choose to post some of it, but I'd like it to go on record that Andy taking the falls was already exhausted from Judo the day before and 3 hours of Aikido that day so if the falls aren't pretty and he takes a little longer after each throw to get up, that's why. Bryce was excited when I got back that we have some new stuff to go over. I plan on TRYING (note the operative word Pat) to make it back in April with Bryce and have an Aiki Buddy weekend or whatever it is Pat's calling it. :)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Home for a week...

Just letting my avid readers know I'm heading back to Mississippi for a week. I won't be posting until I get back and share my thoughts on how class back at the Mokuren dojo went. Please feel free to read the post there to see Pat's thoughts on the weekend...but check back here for news on the randori session before class. Hopefully Andy will have a few thoughts on this too.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Knee Walking

Me and Bryce have been going over the much neglected knee walking principles lately. Not only incorporating them into moves, but just how it works and specifically why it works with good posture. I was having a problem with it was not putting my weight over my heels while transitioning to the next knee. I was getting in a hurry and falling a little more forward than I should and firing off back muscles to pull myself into proper position again. Other than gaining a sore back, I would fall over after doing this a couple of times. As far as ne waza and getting out of the way by picking up a knee...that took a lot of work. The best explanation I can come up with is if you start with your weight resting on your knees and having them at shoulder width apart, you can get proper tension by moving like you're pulling them apart without actually moving the placement of your knees, just getting tension. That way when you get pushed or pulled, you just lift the knee you aren't rooted to and it will fall right where it needs to go and you just take a step. It's an odd feeling having to move if your leg was chopped off at the knees. Your movements are easier, as in feeling where you're supposed to go...but those same movements need to be more precise or you just fall over. The biggest problem I have was having was slightly dragging my rear knee when moving forward so it's been giving me rug burn. I'll either get better at moving and this won't happen...or I'll get callouses so big it won't matter. Anyone else have any knee walking stories or tips? Also, does anyone know of any specific exercises for knee walking to help on precision other than just knee walking back and forth?

Friday, February 9, 2007

Excited about class

I can't wait till next Friday and Saturday where I'm going home for a bit to practise on mats again...lots of falling. Pat if you're reading this, we need to go over Owaza 1-5 just so I can be thrown from it...Bryce insists. I was talking to Andy about this and me and him are both curious to see how our Aikido feels now that we've been learning from different people. Plus a little friendly randori is as the fore-front of our minds :) I'd give anything to do Aikido and Judo as a living but I wonder how successful a dojo would be in a larger city area. While you have a greater population than smaller towns, you also have dojos every couple of miles. The more I train though the more I genuinely want this to be more predominant in my life career-wise. I just wonder if I'll have to hold down a 9-5 low pay job to support my passion.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


Last night me and Bryce went over the importance of retaining the initial tension you get after the offbalance. We went through Junana and most of the changes made for Nijusan. He couldn't remember the Nijusan version for waki gatame so we went over around 8 different possible was a long night. Very refreshing though as we also briefly went over taking someone to the ground and maintaining control and positioning keeping in mind where judges might be sitting for a formal rank test. That definitely makes things harder, but a little challenge is always good. After all that, we touched on San Kata, or Koryu Dai San if you want the formal name. The best part of the night for me was my being re-taught kote mawashi. I had completely forgotten about that until it was done to me once. After that I threw myself into something else to keep him from getting kote mawashi again.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Belts and Indications...

When I first began to learn about martial arts I thought whatever belt a person was wearing was an exact indication of their skill level. Later, I thought it was a rough indication of skill and more an indication of time of rank. I was discussing what it actually meant with Andy and he said it depends on the wearer. That mostly it's just something given to students to give them a sense of accomplishment. I just wonder if belt ranks cause more problems than benefits. Lots of people quit after getting their Shodan (which I personally see as a benefit). For those that don't though, I get the feeling they feel they don't deserve it. I know I didn't feel like I deserved my yellow, green, or brown belt when I was awarded it. My Sensei Pat assured me that it's normal and I'll never feel like I deserve them when I earn them because I'm looking at what I feel I ought to know instead of how much I've learned between each one. That works great except for the times I fell out of practicing for a few months at a time. You never dramatically feel your skills improving but you can defiantly tell when they've dropped. Belts don't degrade though, so you're left a green belt but you feel like a yellow or even white. I have no idea what brought this post up, and it has no questions...just some thoughts.