Today we worked on Ukemi, offcially called “The Art of Falling” but this time as we worked on it, it was more the art of responding. We focused on the Uke part of Aikido, practiced some falling parts but much of our work was about maintaining the balance between knowing what is coming as Uke and reacting spontaneously.
At the close of class Sensei said something like “Aikido is not a Martial Art but a Responsive Art” or something like that (As with so much of Aikido I can't remember what Sensei says or does, no matter how much I want to). To be fair, he later also said that obviously Aikido is a martial art.
For a moment today I felt like I was getting close to appropriate responsiveness as Uke to Iriminage. I actually felt my center following nage's technique, which of course I've often been told to do, but today I felt it.
Ukemi for Iriminage has been one of my greater weak points. Iriminage is a foundation technique and my response to it has always been awkward, so each time we practice it I am simultaneously eager and fearful.
After class I talked with Sensei and he emphasized (in effect) that we need to recognize, and work more on, the Ukemi side of Aikido. And that as our Ukemi improves so does our Techniques. In fact he mentioned that in rank testing the Shihan of France, Christian Tissier, examined not only techniques applied by Black Belt students but their Ukemi.
The IrimiNage Christian Tissier video shows a little of what we practiced today. Particularly notice the “sliding” effect as uke is first drawn around nage. We did not follow through with the flashy roll over nage's leg.
Tonight a few of us got our Certificates for passing our tests. For any doubters here is my paper. Not as powerful as the documents that drove the plot of Casablanca, but it is nice to have something tangible.
This past weekend I missed Aikdo to visit my parents in Houston. I stayed alone at my sister's house and Saturday I was forced to spend the afternoon drinking wine, reading Manga, listing to music I saved on my laptop, eating bree and later chocolate, all the while cleaning up my ancient motorcross boots while periodically swimming in their pool.
Tonight I went to the North Dallas “Meet and Greet”. There were maybe 20 motorcyclists with their bikes. I was the smallest motorcycle there, but nobody pointed it out to me. Anyway I saw 3 Triumphs, of which I took one fuzzy picture displayed above.
Anyway I talked to some people and it was fun. There was one other dual sport (a DR650), so I wasn't totally alone.
I couldn't help but notice there were quite a few BMWs and Triumphs. Nice big bikes.
Tonight we practiced many different techniques but all starting from Ryotetori.
I was afraid my soreness from Sunday adventure would interfere with my ability to ...well, do anything. But after about 30 minutes I finally started to loosen up. In was a good night and I worked with many different levels of Ukes. With a variety of responsiveness. Once in a blue moon I managed to get a move at least in the correct “ball park”. So, it was a good night, especially since I feared my absences would hurt me. The above YouTube clip shows one of the responses we practiced.
On a different subject, it came out that one of the Akidoka commented that he still didn't know what to say after I said Onegai shimas(u) meaning “I make a request"“ in preparation of working together.
I then gave him the phrases for before (the above) and at the end of class - “domo arigato Gozaimashita” (thank you very much for what you have done )
The thing this is, we heard that after a demonstration at an Asian Festival last weekend, two different people commented that they liked the bowing part of the demo. Basically they liked the politeness of Aikido, which is what all the Japanese phrases are about. You pay your respect to everybody. The founder, the Sensei and each other. Done it the right spirit it means we do it all with a sense of gratitude. This is what bowing is really all about (in my understanding).
For a few years I “practiced” Zen meditation where we bowed (from a knelling position) all the time. The teacher explained the bowing was a way to empty yourself before whatever, the teacher, the teacher's teacher, the door, the floor, a bug...whatever. Everything is “worth” bowing before, even each other. But again it is a pouring of yourself out before “thou”. And everything is a “thou”, a “du” a “tu”, etc...
So I, your humble narrator, in this spirit described above pour myself out before you..
Warning; this is a motorcycle posting
I finally took the DRZ400S off road today. Yes it was a blast, but maybe the best thing for me was that I was not too afraid. BUT, I think the motorcycle had a lot to do with that since it was PERFECT!! Well except for the tires and the gearing.
Before I was trapped in a mud bog...(more later), the first thing I noticed was that it handled wonderfully and was VERY forgiving. BUT, 1st gear is WAY TOO HIGH. I must get different sprockets. If you ride off road in even a semi serious way and don't want to burn up the clutch, get some new sprockets.
I was having a grand old time but I really blundered when I tried to ride along the edge of a medium sized Mud /Water pool. First by front tire slipped into a shallow mud pond and I finally just lifted the wheel out of BUT when I tried to ride forward with my front tire free, my rear tire slipped down into the track of some ATV tire rut. This is where you understand the buddy system, and I had no buddy. Well, at this time my rear wheel was firmly entrenched. I rested and pondered my options.
There where other ATVs and motorcycles around but at this time nobody was coming by me. So, with the front wheel on somewhat firm ground I tried to lift the rear wheel out, but was afraid the whole thing would tip over into the water. But I was unsure how deep the remaining pool was and couldn't let go the the bike to test the depth.
Finally I gambled, let out the clutch and figured with the front wheel out I could put the bike forward the remaining 6 feet and find dry ground.
Yes I made it out on my own without having to find help. But many lessons were learned. First, I need to get new gearing, maybe before knobby tires. But new tires are another must. Then I have to go to some local motorcycle group meetings and find other people to ride with. And I probably have to get new boots. My old boots did really well, and I mean really well. But when I got home the right boot looked like it was about to fall apart.
Out of the bog I crawled.
The water in the background was where I spent 15 or 20 minutes.
Tomorrow an AIKIDO posting!