Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Video Begins

The Open Sky video team met for the first time last night. We will be
doing something exciting soon.

My "high fall" technique is, shall we say, cringe worthy. I was working
with Mike and I just couldn't keep myself from trying a high fall.
However, the hand breaking the fall is a tad too late, and this makes my
falls twice as hard as necessary. I'm determined to learn how to do
this properly, so apologies in advance to any who may have to watch me
in the meantime.

Andy showed me an extra-smooth shihonage. My tendency is to use way too
much force. The rule of thumb is to only use the amount of force
necessary and no more.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Feel the Burn!

Made it to Katie's class yesterday, a nice informal class with just me
and John in attendance. One question that came up was: how do I react
to techniques such as yonkyo, where there is (potential) pain involved
in the application of the technique? Apparently I don't go with the
flow as much as perhaps I should. Why do I wait until I feel some
pain? Well, for some techniques in particular, like yonkyo, direct
pressure is applied to nerves in the wrist. I have had a lot of trouble
in the past with making sure I "get it", being sure that my technique is
effective, or conversely, that my partner's technique is effective.
With partners whose forearms are as thick as Popeye's, yonkyo is pretty
much impossible, for me at least. So, this is the history that presents
itself when I am receiving yonkyo.

The same could be said about some of my other ukemi. My reactions are
sometimes not as expected and sometimes just plain not quite right.
Another persistent habit--I tend to take an extra step forward when I am
uke for ikkyo and similar techniques. This too has some history behind
it. One convention in Korean styles is to have the same foot forward as
the hand that is extended (in a strike or block).

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Nice class Thursday night, focusing on basic movements pretty much. At
the end, a treat for me, doing kokyudosa with Sensei. It's sometimes a
bit of a dilemna working with him. I am sometimes not sure how much I
should challenge him with my attacks, as if moving all 150 lbs. of me is
a challenge. The goal, as I imagine it, is to provide appropriate
resistance. When working with a beginner, obviously the appropriate
resistance is very little, but when working with Sensei or sempai, the
equation is reversed. What is the appropriate level of resistance
then? My answer for today: do what I can to resist without becoming
uncentered, without being a spaz.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Just Digging Deeper

I have been doing waaay too much "cubicle-waza". I am out of shape
again, conditioning wise. It seems I can handle classes toward the end
of the day--my energy is at least above "comatose" level, but when I
wake up a little after 6 and drag my ass to class at 7, having gotten to
bed at around midnight all week, I just can't fool my body into being on
top of my game. The other workout of sorts I have been getting this
week is pulling up the wet carpet padding in our basement, which is more
physically draining than invigorating.

Josh teaching today, yokomenuchi techniques, iriminage of course, and
others. Fortunately, he has some mercy and starts us off with just the
opening movements. Mike was there this AM, first I've seen him at this
hour. I think he has some of the best ukemi I have ever seen. Jory and
Jim also there. With Jim it seems we have the mutual understanding that
we aren't quite 20-something anymore. Actually everyone was pretty easy
on me today, but damn, I tired easily!

I might have to bag 7AM classes for a while. Maybe 8:30 AM Saturday
will be a more realistic hour, though I'm wincing at that possibility
too. Really what I need is to start running again.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Too Many Words

When I get into "teaching mode" I seem to talk more than is necessary.
That's the impression I got from Sensei last night, though he did not
say it to me specifically. Few words are needed to teach what is really
vital. With words I can tell you where to put your foot and how to move
your hand, but I cannot really tell you the essence of the technique. I
can try, but it's a picture worth thousands of words--much easier just
to keep practicing.

I worked with Lucas last night, who is a beginner, on a variation of
iriminage (or is it kokyunage?). In hindsight, the best approach might
have been just to focus on the opening tenchin movement, drawing the
hands close to the hip, and then stop there.

The ongoing dilemna of how to fall for iriminage continues. I need to
take a step back and take an easy (easier) fall, not just turn my head
and try to take a high fall.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Everthing Hurts!

Last night I guess you could say I "celebrated" my first injury since
returning to aikido. I pretty much landed on my left shoulder during a
fall, not exactly what I intended. According to the doc, nothing seems
to be broken (i.e. collarbone), so I'm just sore.

What sucks is that I was planning on making this weekend an big aikido
weekend, but if I can't roll, I can't practice very much. The upside is
that I can work on video camera stuff this evening for the forthcoming
Open Sky Aikido Media Extravaganza!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Last night we practiced a lot of what we call "high falls" (aka
breakfalls, hard falls). This was really fun, but I'm paying for it
today! One side-effect of a lot of ukemi (falling) practice is that I
slap the mat a lot, causing tremors in my hands after class, even
extending into the next day, as in today. It's possible some of this is
caffeine induced, but my arms both feel traumatized today. So the goal
is to make my falls "lighter", such that I make very little sound when
landing on the mat, because while a slap of the mat may absorb impact
from the rest of your body, your arms are taking the beating. One
clue: it seemed to work well to think of doing it like an aerial cartwheel.

Friday, August 05, 2005

AM Class

Made it to 7AM class today, flying down the highway to make it in
time--not a good idea, but I zipped into the parking lot in the nick of

Josh teaching, Andy and a new guy--Juri formerly of Peter Bernath's dojo
in FL, and me. Funny how learning happens for me in this class. The
instructor may direct me to do something differently, and I am doing
what I can to be the essence of perfection (ha ha), but my level of
presence is usually not very steady this early in the morning. So the
two questions here are: is my body acting as I intend? and, 2: what is
my intention?

Observation: whenever we practice a technique with another person, our
entire past presents itself as our technique. We establish patterns of
interaction with each other and that becomes part of our ongoing history
in the making. So it is interesting when someone new enters the
picture, someone whose style is in some ways very different from my
own. Juri, I would say, has something of a gruffness to his technique.
I wonder if this is due to his time spent in NY, but maybe also part of
his training in FL.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Recovery Wednesday

Here at the office we call this "Mexican Wednesday", our weekly
excursion for Mex food. I could also call it "Recovery Wednesday",
being the day after my Tuesday evening classes. Not abnormally sore
today, but my arms are feeling the effects of jo practice.

A smallish class last night. In contrast to last week, mostly yudansha
were there. SteveL volunteered me as uke to demonstrate yokomenuchi
iriminage. I was not really warmed up yet, and my ukemi was a bit
clunky (clunkier than usual that is). I also noticed a tendency I have
to pause before attacking, as in: "Ready, go!" instead of just
immediately going for the target. This should be easy to fix. Also had
a good tip from Charlie on how to fall for iriminage--let my leg start
to go up as soon as nage makes contact. On many of these throws, the
"cool guys" seem to have their center of rotation somewhere around their
neck or upper chest region.

As you can tell from this post, I have decided to stop using initials
only to identify others--it just doesn't seem to matter as long as I'm
not giving out any real exciting information, Swiss bank account numbers
and such.