Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Interesting Challenges

Last night I had a new student. She had a form of muscular distrophy with made her hands oddly shaped and she had trouble manipulating her wrists. It provided interesting challenges in showing her honasu. We worked on foot movement and honasu works relatively well even without manipulating the wrists. It's more than enough to keep Tori safe with proper movement and judging of mai. More next week

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Magic of Tokui Waza

Last night we discovered my student's tokui waza. Tokui waza isn't necessarily your favorite technique (it can be), but it is your best technique. The one that for some reason your body type, size, and subconscious just gets and you can do it consistently. Marina's is kote hineri. She's the only person I know who has trouble with kote gaeshi but can hit kote hineri almost anywhere. My wrists are sore for the first time in a while. At the end of class we did a little free form movement exercise and she got a beautiful kote hineri like motion from just above my wrist on the forearm. It always surprises me exactly what techniques turn out to be people's tokui waza. For me, it was the one I had the MOST trouble with at first, Gedan ate, until Bryce did it to me at random a hundred times a day. Rob had a really good off balance which almost always resulted in ushiro ate. I don't get a chance to practice with Andy enough to know his tokui waza, and I think every move Pat does is his tokui waza. Anyone feel like sharing their best technique here?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Last Night's Class

I've been thinking a lot about the things I learned in the brief time I had with Sensei Crist during my visit in Florida. I was going to go over the concept of irimi and tenkan (entering into, and pivoting away from) techniques...but no one showed up. Instead I picked up the 20 or so mats from the previous class and just went over kata by myself for a few hours. It reminded me of the first Aikido class I ever had with Pat. When I showed up, Pat was alone doing Jo (short staff) excercises back and forth across the floor. I remembered thinking "I wonder how many classes he's here by himself going over things alone" and thinking "I bet he's here every class even if he is alone". Although, picking up the previous Hapkido class of 20's things by yourself is no fun at all.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another Honorable Mention

Sensei Charles Crist passed away recently. A link for his site and to find out more about who he was in under my links section on the right. Although I only met him in person once, he had a profound impact on my Aikido. He would talk about making sure your Aikido was practical and the subtle differences that occur when you do a technique at full speed. I spoke with him while he was in the hospital and was able to tell him how much I enjoyed the brief time I was able to have with. I mentioned I wish I had more to say and that it's strange I felt a kinship with someone I only met once before. He simply said "You don't have to say anything at all. It's Zen that way."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

David Carradine Dies Today

David Carradine, star of the tv series "Kung Fu" died today. You can find the details elsewhere, but I thought it deserved a post.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why Do We Train

This has been a question asked time and again on Pat's blog among many others. Every time I came across one of these posts I would think to myself something along the lines of "to be better" or "because it's fun, duh" but lately I'm wondering if there's something more. I've wanted to learn martial arts (and Aikido specifically) from an early age. I wanted to learn so I could teach and spread Aikido to everyone I knew. Up until lately I've trained so I can be a better teacher, or at least so I thought. Last night while walking home from class I was thinking about it, and that's not why I train. Even when I don't have anyone to show anything to, I'm doing Tegatana or even Nijusan against an invisible Uke just to keep doing it. Playing the saxophone is fun to me, but I don't play anymore, so why Aikido? How come when I was on firewatch in bootcamp I'd shuffle step all the way up the deck, then all the way back? Why would I practice my collar chokes on my unsuspecting bunk mate, or take extra time to go to the gym to practice grappling? I don't plan on competing or looking for glory. Pat once talked about an exercise to get to the core of something where you keep questioning something over and over until you get to where you don't have an answer anymore. For instance, I want pizza, why? I want pizza because I'm hungry and I like pizza. Why do I like pizza specifically? I enjoy the bread, cheese and sauce due to taste, and because it's filling making me less hungry less often. Why pizza now and not a hamburger? I want a pizza just because I feel like pizza...that's all. If I apply the same thing to why I practice Aikido...I don't make it much farther than that. I could say it's for self defense, but that's not true. How often are people nowadays really in a situation they can not run or walk away from or avoid? I could say it's for exercise, but that's not true. I'm definitely out of shape :) I could say a lot of things, but I don't have an answer other than there are days when I'm excited going to class and days when I dread it. Either way, when I physically step onto the mat I cease being anxious, or sad, or anything. I just doing Aikido. I'm looking for an answer deeper than that, but I don't have one at the moment. What are some of the core reasons any of you train?

Kote-Gaeshi and Kote-Hineri

Tonight in class we went over an exercise in moving from Kote-Gaeshi to Kote-Hineri and back again. This is affectionately known as the "stupid drill" partly due to endless repetition of it, and partly due to it becoming stupidly easy after only a few cycles of it. My two students who show up regularly have been showing remarkable progress and I have to admit I'm extremely happy to see that everything's coming together. They did the first 8 wrist releases without me having to remind them the order or how they went, and they picked up on the "stupid drill" more quickly than anything else I've shown then. I wanted to show them how these fit into Nijusan and while attempting Kote Gaeshi, Marina stepped oddly, or I moved, or something weird happened and she transitioned smoothly into Kote Hineri instead without realizing she'd done it until after it was set.