I took a walk tonight up to the local Walgreens for some cold medicine (not for me) and while I walked I plugged in the headphnones and listened to MAIS QUE NADA by Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66.
What a great song. As I walked I felt great with the music and took these pictures because everything looked better.
Listen to the music as you look at the pictures and you will experience what I heard as I walked and see what I saw.
I felt like the guy in the video who was standing on the railing.
Pre Class thoughts...I thought I “Ok, I'm actually getting more relaxed. My ukemi is getting smoother and tonight I'll really flow. Yeah, that's me!”. Well, that was not quite the case, but SOMEDAY Sensei will not have to tell me to relax (For over three years I've heard the “relax” command)
So...Sensei was a student with us normal folk tonight and Lawrence (brown belt) taught. And when we started with Tai No Henko (tenkan exercise) and Sensei worked with me.
I grabbed Sensei's wrist and he immediately looked at me and siad “Relax” as he touched my shoulder. And for the next few minutes he tried to pass along how to understand and react for tai no henko. It was a very short but very focused experience and really pretty special. The good part was felt I like I worked on sort of the fundamentals of the fundamentals.
I worry sometimes that the good efforts of our good Sensei are ultimately lost on people who are numskulls like me.
The video is an only a slight example of what we practiced in that we were slow and deliberate and the video is fast and frantic.
To those who
Train and train;
Reliance on secret techniques
Will get you nowhere.
~ Morihei Ueshiba Quotes from The Art of Peace
I wanted to write something after Monday's class and again after tonight's class....but sometimes writing about Aikido is HARD.
It is easy when there is some clear point you learned or some technique you never saw before or something weird happened. BUT what I took away form the last few class is hard to define and therefor hard to write about. Maybe it would work if I was a poet and expressed it in a non prosaic fashion. But I'm not and I can't. Sometimes what grabs your attention or tickles your understanding is more like a familiar scent or a shadowing memory is triggered that you can't identify. You know it but you just can't say it. You sense it but you can't say it.
There is a saying about Zen which I will probably mangle but as I remember it you say “How do you transmit something that can't be expressed in words and letters?” and the answer is “With words and letters.”
So here I go on the Aikido thing.
One night Sidney was teaching and we worked on some basics with the emphasis on Katate tori (wrist grab attack) and the then tenkan (turn, leave the grab as is but you end up parallel to the attacker) and then something else. Once we would then turn again and uke (the attacker) would have to follow around nage (the victim). It was more of an exercise rather than a directly useful technique but he kept urging the uke to move around nage as he turned and alternately extend your arm and move your center to keep up.
The analogy I suggested and he liked was that of a bull rider in that he must not lock his muscles as the bull bucks but move his center and extend and retract his arm as needed.
We worked on this for quite a while.
Tonight Charlie taught so I was able to train with Sidney Sensei once and he took the time to try to get my ukemi for shihonage to respond spontaneously. And to do that I had to not anticipate, move my hips appropriately and the change my feet as the throw was applied. He said I knew what the technique was so I was anticipating my fall, but in a real situation nage might change the technique and I could find myself in a very bad situation. And when I couldn't seem to react correctly he said I just needed to do it differently and that when I did it right I would know it. It wasn't something that is a movement that could be memorized.
I see that all those words of the last few paragraphs don't describe what I was feeling.
Just to say it is quite special that Sidney wants everybody to REALLY understand and feel that the roles of Uke and Nage both require the same responsiveness and REAL Aikido is not knowing all the holds, throws and such....rather it is responding in an appropriate Aikdio fashion (which of course also implies knowing all the holds, throws and such).
I was looking at videos to show something about the Aikdio I am striving to explain but all of YouTube is flashy fast throws and high flying breakfalls.
That's how I see it and it may not be worth the virtual paper it is printed on but there it is.
There is no Aikido tonight so I managed to squeeze in a late afternoon ride around White Rock Lake.
The picture is of a house the comes into view when I round a certain curve. I just look forward to looking at it on my ride. A small pleasure but a pleasure non the less.
Unexpectedly I was able to make tonight's class and after many weeks gone it was great to be back especially since Sidney was teaching tonight.
It was one of those classes where you think you're getting something special. Not some clever technique but Sensei kept driving at the core or what Aikido is. We worked on basic things. Things you thought you knew, but you realize what you thought you knew wasn't knowledge after all. You demonstrated Shomenuchi Ikkyo on your first test (5th Kyu) but now it is as if you had never heard of it before.
At the end of class he said there had been complaints that the youngsters in the class were not treated gingerly enough. From there he tried to explain that Aikido was not Nage imposing the technique on Uke but rather just as a technique was not IMPOSED on an uke because nage wanted to “do” the technique it is the same with the nage/uke relationship. We are called to be aware of uke's ability and act accordingly (be gentle or forcefull in the application of the technique), and he reminded us Aikido was Harmony and it also meant harmony with ukes of many levels.
He repeated we don't impose a technique and that in training the point it to learn a technique and how it applies to uke so be aware of what you are doing and why and nage and uke both must strive to perform their part as best as each one can.
He then went on to explain that in the moment of an actual attack by a some villain if you learned the technique in the variations of class you survival impulse would take over and you would apply the move with no restraint.
He then started a story even though he saw class was late, but as he said “But, this is important”
Once there was a martial arts master who wanted to fight somebody who would not hold back because for him it was truly life or death. So he found a prisoner who was condemned to die and talked the local magistrate into letting him fight the man and if the man could kill the master the prisoner would be free. It would be a true fight to the death.
The fight started and for a time the prisoner was so motivated that he pulled out every trick he knew and the master had to struggle. But finally the master killed the prisoner and went to his (the master's ) teacher. He described how surprised he was at how hard it was to the beat the man who didn't have great martial arts training.
The master's master simply said
“And think how difficult it would have been if he knew your techniques!!”
So again the point was...learn these techniques, know why, how and when to use them. And by working with ukes of all levels if you can appreciate how to use them accordingly...when the time comes it is the marriage of technique and survival that will win the day. But if you insist on imposing your technique on weaker ukes you don't actually learn as much.