The Old Man And The Ki

We had a good class tonight exemplified when Sensei was trying to get us to “get” a technique where the attack is shomenuchi and you try to do ikkyo but uke is catches his balance and is strong so he starts to stand up. You act like you are overcome and bring your legs together so it looks like you are about to be overpowered. Then you lean back as if to fall but at the last moment you swing around using uke's momentum and with hands still on the wrist and elbow of nage (you never let go) and FALL down and forward to project uke away and into a roll.

Sidney told us “this is what Aikido is all about” in that you don't exert yourself, you take whatever energy the attacker dishes out to you and redirect it. He of then point out that if the attack is not genuine the whole response would not work so he encouraged the ukes to really try and bully nage.

Anyway, it was pretty cool. I don't know what the technique is called and it may have been more of a training exercise than an actual technique.

After class as we where preparing to leave the discussion of how old everybody is came up. It looks like I am the oldest person there. There might be somebody older since not all Plano Aikido-ists where there. But I suspect tonight's class was pretty representative. So in a way I've been the Senior Student all along.

As for todays blog title...pretty clever play on the Hemingway novel isn't it?

"A man can be destroyed but not defeated"

“Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.”

FYI 50 years old was the max age tonight.


The Long Way Round

Tonight we worked from Ushiro Tekubitori and went through quite a few responses. But the best moment was when Sidney saw all of us running around a stationary nage to grab the had on the other side. He stopped the the class to emphasize that there was a much more natural reason to approach it. The idea is that Nage is really stepping aside as Uke comes to him and grabs the wrist and so Uke goes past Nage and then Nage realizes he is not in complete control and grabs the other wrist from behind.

What was great was that Sidney pointed out the obvious AND gave a clear explanation of what we were doing. After all why would an attacker go to one side to grab a wrist and then run around the back of his opponent to grab the other hand.

The clip shows the ushiro tekubitoru attack but unfortunately it doesn't really show what Sidney explained.


La última Clase de Alberto

Today was Alberto's last day as the Saturday instructor. It was also the day of the Plano Aikdio garage sale, so the class somewhat smaller than usual.

We mainly worked from Shomenuchi and like last Saturday we had some time of almost freestyle where two people attacked with shomenuchi and the Nage was supposed to respond with one of the techniques we had worked on. Well...today I was more uptight I guess, because I kept freezing up as somebody else attacked. Perhaps shomenuchi is just more unatural for me than the katatetori we worked on last Saturday. Or it was just a bad day.

It was a good workout, which is Alberto's style. I was expecting a class of koshinage since that is one of his favorites, but also no.

tonight I watched Bloodsport with Jean Claude Van Damme. Not horrible, in that it held my interest. But it really a a pretty bad movie. I wonder what real martial arts people think of it. For me I saw every attack of force was met with a responding attack of force. No Aikido there.

The clip is similar to one move we worked on, and while I had never heard this teacher's explanation before...I liked it.


I Abide In My Abode

I was really tired and decided I would just go home and get to bed early rather than go to Aikido Class. Maybe I would work through a lesson of Spanish or maybe even spend an hour or two reading (like I used to do). But I ended up staying at work until almost 7:00 PM then by the time I started my dinner I saw that The Big Lebowski was on. So..........I watched most of that and THEN the Sopranos came on A&E.

Well I ended up skipping class and basically just watching TV the rest of the night. No wonder I never accomplish anything. The Dude abides but I just watch TV.


Main Entry: abide Listen to the pronunciation of abide
Pronunciation: \ə-ˈbīd\

1: to wait for :
2 a: to endure without yielding : withstand b: to bear patiently : tolerate
3: to accept without objection


Stand On Top Of Your Laptop, If You Can!

Six months ago I started this blog. Part of that start was the purchase of a new Thinkpad Notebook computer from Lenovo (formerly IBM).

This is just to say that after 6 months I stand by my laptop, and my cat stands on top of it. Sammy says “The Thinkpad fully supports me!”

At first I wanted it to say "Lenovo" since I know it came from China, but now that Lenovo has their own non-IBM notebook I feel like maybe I was fortunate to have the descendant of the IBM notebook. And Sammy feels wonderful about the notebook too!


A Stand Well Taken

Twice in the last week I was heartened during Aikido class.

Once we were practicing katatetori something and I was with a new student when Sensei came over to point out to the the new student that he was exposing his front to attack. And he then pointed out that I was only presenting my side rather than my front. All well and good. But I surprised that he used my stance as an example of the correct way to stand. I was shocked to realized I was in the correct position, it felt like an accident.

Then last Saturday Alberto had freestyle practice with the ushiro katatori attack, which what we had practiced that day. Sidney was in my group so I was a little intimidated, but at one point I was confused on what to do and “accidentally” used a juji-nage response. The thing was we were supposed to use what we had worked on that morning, but I was forced into doing something that felt natural rather than something I was supposed to be learning.

The best part was that Sidney merely indicated that it was an appropriate response after I apologized for using something out of that morning's repertoire.

Tonight one thing we worked on was a direct irimi-nage rather than an enter and tenkan. Something like the video above.

As an aside. This last month due to outside circumstance and a lack of moral fiber I stopped my morning bike rides. I've been eating a bit more and maybe drinking a bit more wine. I deal with stress by eating and drinking. The strange thing is that, I also do the same for non-stress. So I've put on a few pounds and boy have I been pooped during aikido class.

Tonight I meant to lay off the food and wine, but after a great workout I couldn't help myself. Maybe tomorrow I'll gather some gumption and have a light diner and skip the wine. We'll see.


Let That Be a Lesson To Me!

Note to self: You just finished Unit 4 Lesson 10

What did I learn tonight? Soga is Rope , paracaídas is parachute and arena is sand.

I really flew through this lesson. I should apply myself and keep going until it gets hard. At this point I can usually figure out any new words from the context. So am I learning anything besides a few words?

I just don't know, but I'll keep coming back to it and hope for the best.


What's My Line-age?

Last night we worked from the Katate-tori Ai Hamni, with the highlight being nikkyo. Nikkyo from this stance is very simple and when done correctly it is almost magical Just shift your position a bit while going around uke's arm and then project over the wrist toward his center. Sidney Sensei demonstrated it by saying at the part where you point to their center by saying “I have something to show you, and here it is.” Just as if you were offering something special when you are driving Uke to the ground. - Wonderful.

After class Sensei loaned me his DVD of what looks to be a thorough and systematic demonstration of many basic techniques. Aside from general information it should helpful in preparing for tests. The DVD featured Christian Tissier, who was one of Sydney's teachers when he lived in France.

By seeing some similarities on the DVD with how Sidney teaches I started thinking of linages. I think some people make a big deal of the heritage of their endeavor. Of course the Catholic Church is big on the whole Apostolic Succession but my connection with the Church had nothing to do with the list of bishops to Peter. For a time I “studied” another tradition (Sanbo Kyodan), that had a full family tree and there too, the roots and branches were not what gave the appeal or justified the commitment. And in Aikido, for me the linage is me and Sidney.

Maybe that just shows an ingrained Modern and American worldview. Is it a lack of concern for history? Or is it accepting a “living in the moment” approach to life? - You decide. Or maybe I'll decide.

The video features Christian Tisser. Very smooth, very nice.

footnote: How lame is it to think anybody would catch a reference to a 1950s – 60s game show?


How To Make A Thanksgiving Video

Off topic again. Here is a home movie from this past Thanksgiving.


I Aint Never Been to Spain, But I've Been To Oklahoma (WAY too many times!)

My trip to Spain may never happen, but I bought the non refundable ticket anyway. If I can't go I can use the purchase a credit on other flights, and that is the reason I didn't choose Iberia since their destinations would limit where any credit could be used.

I was going to wait a little longer to see if any outside circumstances torpedoed the trip, but then in routine fantasy ticket purchasing I found the price dropped on US Airways by $80. Fearing the fair wouldn't last I snapped it up. Why the price should drop when fuel prices are rising and the value of the US dollar is dropping, is beyond me.

$803 for a round trip ticket to Spain seems like a really good price to me.

Just Because I Read This...

Debido a, debido a que: Debido a can be translated as "due to"; the que is added when what follows could stand as a sentence. Necesitan cadenas debido a la nieve, chains are needed because of the snow. La población está abrumada debido a que la tierra sigue temblando, the people are weary because the ground keeps shaking.


"Too Much Information!!"

Last night we worked on responses to Shomenuchi. We worked on many responses I've experienced here and at other dojos. Ikkyo, Nikkyo, Kotegaishi, Kaiten-nage. I remember shomenuchi nikkyo when I was at the Charlotte NC dojo. I guess I was not at a complete loss this time, so I'll take that as progress.

At one point Sidney was showing my partner something and I was the Nage and he kept telling me that I was giving him too much information. And that in Aikido, the effectiveness comes from NOT letting the attacker know what would happen next. A sort of psychological unbalancing.

It was really an advanced point that only an equally advanced student student could incorporate. BUT, that is what is so great about Sidney, he doesn't keep any secrets. He is a very open teacfher. And if beginners cant apply what he says at least they can see what he is talking about, and appreciate it at that level.

We hear Nage is supposed to only provide the most appropriate response depending on how Uke attacks, and perhaps the life lesson is to not enter into any situation with assumptions. Not because you will reveal too much, but simply to respond appropriately as the circumstances require. Giving too much information about what you plan to do is really assuming you know what the other person is and what they will do.

The above clip shows some Shomenuchi stuff and since I once practiced at that dojo I used it as my video example.

And in honor of Thanksgiving I offer this quote from O'Sensei...

When you bow deeply to the universe, it bows back; when you call out the name of God, it echoes inside you.


Este carro rojo tuvo un accidente

Note to self: You just finished Level 1: Unit 4: Lesson 9

Well at least it has been less than a month since my last spanish workout.

They worked in some past tense, but just a bit. A bit of “tuvo” and “tuvieron” regarding who did or did not have an accident.

I check-ed out some tapes and CD from the Public Library after my last Spanish post, and for a week or so I tried to listen to them regularly in the car. But during my trip last week I overdosed on the 5 hour drive and have had a hard time getting back into it.

Fun words from this week...jalando, un puente and chocado!!

Way off topic, for some reason I thought of this poem tonight and didn't want to forget about it.

I love at eventide to walk alone
Down narrow lanes oerhung with dewy thorn
Where from the long grass underneath the snail
Jet black creeps out and sprouts his timid horn
I love to muse oer meadows newly mown
Where withering grass perfumes the sultry air
Where bees search round with sad and weary drone
In vain for flowers that bloomed but newly there
While in the juicey corn the hidden quail
Cries ‘wet my foot’ and hid as thoughts unborn
The fairy like and seldom-seen land rail
Utters ‘craik craik’ like voices underground
Right glad to meet the evenings dewy veil
And see the light fade into glooms around

Summer Moods by John Clare (1793-1864)


A Bird In the Hand (with a mouse )

During my lunch break today I pulled away the virtual spiderwebs on Anime Studio and played around a bit. I now remember why I thought it would be fun to use this application. It is still really daunting and my results are never what I envisioned, but there is enough reward (to my eye) to make me think if I really applied myself I could make something interesting.

This is not that “something”. But, one does what one can, when one can.

I know the timing is off, the motion is off. And it repeats the same motion over and over again. I suppose it is something like a parent with an ugly baby, the child is divine to the parent but to the rest of the world it is quite different. Anyway, this is my ugly animation baby bird.

I spent a few hours tonight working on it, maybe a waste of time and I may never get any better. But surely no more a waste than watching hours of cable TV movies?

Perhaps a fulfilled life is helped by low expectations?

A Solid Piece of Wood is Often Useful

Tonight we practiced Jo-Waza (practice with a wooden staff). There were two new people, a father and son duo, and I wonder how they felt about their first class. I love to work with the bokken and Jo, where else does a grown man get to swing a stick around? And to learn the way it should be done is really pretty amazing. But it is really not that often we use the Jo and so it was not really typical. Was is good or bad for a first timer? They stayed to chat with Sidney for a while so I guess they weren't too put off by it all.

I've seen enough to know that the techniques we practice with the Jo and Bokken (wooden sword) have direct implications to the hand techniques, but still... it sure is fun to hold onto a nice piece of wood and pretend you are in a Martial Arts Movie. And maybe it will come in useful some day.

"Certainly, in the topsy-turvy world of heavy rock, having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is often useful." - Ian Faith in Spinal Tap


"I Like To Watch!"

I guess one is still lazy if you THINK about doing something but don't actually do anything. I was thinking about doing some animation but I'm out of the habit enough (a very infrequent habit) to be scared off by the amount of work animation takes, even with the help of computer software.

The video above is the famous, in animation circles, short by Ryan Larkin called “Walking”. If he used 24 frames a second then multiply by 60 seconds and then by the 5 minutes and you know he had 7200 pictures to photograph. And even if he used tricks of the trade to make it a little easier, it is still an amazing amount of work. A lot of work for something that looks so relaxed.

Contrast this with the video below, “Salad Fingers” by David Firth from the Flash Animation world. Still a significant amount of work.

I wonder if the method guides the message? The pure drawing involved in “Walking” would be pointless to get the feeling of “Salad Fingers” across. There is warmth to “Walking” that would detract from the cold strangeness of “Salad Fingers”.

So I thought about and watched some animation even if I didn't do anything.


OK is ok...more or less

For family reasons I had to spend the weekend in Oklahoma. Here are some pictures


Form Is Precisely Emptiness,
Emptiness Precisely Form.

Due to circumstances I missed a week and a half of Aikido classes and fortunately tonight, while a workout, it was not exhausting. I will miss next weekend's testing in Dallas so I didn't have to worry about my inadequacies and could just enjoy the class.

At one point Sidney was trying to explain how to use the Omote form of Yokomenuchi Kotegaishi, in that one is supposed to feel what is happening and move with uke until it is right to go to Kotegaishi. From working with the Tomiki trained guy I gather he learned these techniques by knowing “the forms”. Sidney is always encouraging him to show us what he knows, but it seems to be going at it from a different starting point.

The cool thing about Sidney is he is showing you the way a master would use Aikido, while the Tomiki method is focused on learning where to put you feet, hands, etc... Of course in our class we learn how to move otherwise the purpose is lost, and I'm sure in Tomiki Aikido form never trumps effectiveness. So they end up at the same point, but fortunately for me I like seeing the elegance of the true form, which to me is a “formless form”.

Heart Sutra --- ( The Heart of the Perfection of Great Wisdom Sutra)

AvalokitesvaraBodhisattva doing deep Prajna Paramita
Perceived the emptiness of all five conditions,
And was freed of pain.
O Sariputra, form is no other than emptiness,
Emptiness no other than form,
Form is precisely emptiness,
Emptiness precisely form.
Sensation, perception, reaction and consciousness are also like this.
O Sariputra , all things are expressions of emptiness,
Not born, not destroyed, not stained, not pure,
Neither waxing nor waning.

Excerpt from MKZC.org


Fear and Scheming towards España

Alguien está vestido de amarillo

Note to self: You just finished Level 1: Unit 4: Lesson 8

A month behind schedule but I finally made it back to Español-land. No trouble getting back in the swing of things with Rossetta Stone, but I bet it was designed so the easy steps of each lesson work together so you end up remembering it as if by magic. In fact I'm positive only studying once a month is not good, for any learning (magical or not).

But one does what one can. At this time I'm promising myself to get back at it. In fact I dug out some old Spanish tape and today I started listing to them in the car as I drive.

Side note- I sure have a problem saying Alguien. I don't know if it is me or Rossetta Stone, but I had to repeat it a ga-zillion times and I still rarely satisfied the computer.

I have a little more motivation now since my sister invited me on a week long family vacation they are taking to Spain next spring. Given that something always seems to come up, at best I think there is a 50-50 chance it will actually happen for me. I have to balance the anticipation of something arising the requires me to stay here against the requirement to buy a ticket early enough, since otherwise I couldn't afford it. But in any event this week I'll get the passport thing going, first with a high quality $8 passport photo from Walgreen's Drug Store.

I really want to go, but I can be a bit of a “gloom and doom-er” and I fear my yet laid scheme to get to Spain will likely “Gang aft a-gley”

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.

Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But, oh! I backward cast my e'e
On prospects drear!
An' forward , tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Robert Burns (1759-1796)


Nothing to post really. Family and work matters have fill most of my time so I'm posting Asakusa Rice Fields and Torinomachi Festival by Hiroshige.


One Thing Leads to Another!

Tonight Sidney Sensei asked what I wanted to work on but I was tired of requesting stuff and generally beat down by life that I couldn't muster enough gumption to think of anything.

Fortunately for me he worked on many techniques that are part of the 4th kyu test. The downside is that I was so bad at them I am now thinking I will not take the test in November. I really thought I was getting a handle on the Yokomenuchi, but I was totally confused tonight. Will I always be a beginner?.

One interesting point came from Sidney demonstrating the different ways you would deal with Yokomenuchi Nikkyo, or Yonkyo and something else I don't remember. The gist was that everything lead to another and what the thing is depends on what the motion is throughout the attack. And like an infinite possible futures, the Aikido response entirely depends on what is happening at THAT moment. And at THAT moment you respond appropriately.

One thing (whatever that thing is) naturally leads to another. Nothing really complicated about it. BUT it is ever so hard to do, and it is a wonder to see it demonstrated so effortlessly. And all moves can inexplicably turn into each other, like an Escher drawing.

As an aside, maybe one of things I love about Aikdo is when the Sensei demonstrates something and almost without thinking causes you you to collapse to the floor. Tonight Sidney was showing me and my partner the variations on Nikkyo and used me as the example. DAMN it was impressive, and I was thrown down like a boulder. --- It was beautiful!!


Sein oder Nichtsein

Tonight Sensei asked and I requested

Ryotetori Shihonage (omote & ura)
Ryotetori Ikkyo (omote & ura)
Ryotetori Kokyu Nage

I had imagined what the shihonage would have been, and I was wrong.
The Ikkyo was pretty neat, I wish I really understood it.

I will be happy when I'm past the 4th Kyu test so I can stop asking for techniques in which the whole group must participate. I think I can at least fumble through the 4th kyu list now, but I sure don't understand them

I see that many young children in the Tae Kwon Do group have black belts and I compare that to our Aikido experience. I'm sure any martial art practiced in earnestness and dutifully respected is good, but I know that it will be a miracle if I ever get to wear a hakama. And thanks to uchi deshi's blog, I know that getting a black belt in Aikido is really just the beginning.

So what about us beginners? For us it doesn't matter. You either practice or you don't. Regardless of rank

What does it matter if you are 4th , 5th, 1st kyu or nidan, shodan...etc. If you practice you are there and if you don't, you are not there. Come to practice..and practice. That is what we are there for.

To be there or to not be there, That is the question. And that points to a deeper question.

The clip is from a Kokyu Nage similar to one we worked on



Saturday we spent some time working toward a katate tori kokyo-ho. But what made it interesting was the emphasis Alberto made that we were actually “making irimi” (as Alberto says) before the tenkan (the turn). He even stopped the practice so the class could work on an irimi (entering) exercise. I had never thought it about that way but it really makes sense.

The entering is small but it brings your center to uke's center. The odd part is that in this instance you are supposed to move your body while your wrist stays stationary in uke's grasp. Usually everything moves together and if you didn't move as a unit you might be mildly reprimanded for being dis-jointed. Plus this type of thing is more of an exercise so I bet in “real life” uke would be moving toward you and there would be no need to irimi

When done well there is not separation. It is not Irimi + Tenkan + Kokyunage. It is a seem-less irimitenkankokyunage

As an aside we had another big class of newcomers so anybody with more experience than me worked with the beginners and I and the other beginner's hung together. I can work with people who have attended just a few classes, but since I'm still working on my front and back rolls (after over a year and a half) I'd be a little uncomfortable instructing the the first and second timers

As another aside, I wonder if Alberto who is from Mexico uses “make irimi” rather than “do irimi” since the Spanish word for “to do” and “to make” are both usually translated as hacer, and he heard “hace irimi” when first learning Aikido?

The video has a short glimpse of Yamada Sensei show this small entering that brings nage and uke together at 15 seconds into the clip.


Waste, Want Not!

How do we know we are wasting our time? Is watching TV automatically a waste of time? Should I feel bad that after a 2 day business trip (San Antonio and Austin), and getting home after 11:00 PM I spend a few hours drinking my favorite cheap Red wine and watch tapes I VCR-ed (my version of Tivo-ed) of anime from Cartoon Network.

I should probably feel ashamed. But there you go, I'm so tired I can only watch TV and drink wine.

But who can resist a talking black cat? (from Bleach) And just as irresistible is the opening to “Cowboy Bebop”, it is such a copy of 70s American detective show theme songs.

At the end of two very long days that is all I want.


Shiko and the Man

Tonight we spent 30 minutes on Shiko, aka Swari Waza, aka knee-walking, aka Toe Torture. And it really wore me out, and a few others, I think.

Before Class Sensei asked what we wanted to work on, and I confessed I hated to request it, but there are some swari waza techniques on the 4th kyu test.

*Katatori ikkyo
*Katatori nikkyo (omote & ura)
*Katatori sankkyo

These are the ones I asked for. There were actually two others but thank goodness I didn't remember them for that may have been too much.

If I take the the test next month I will feel lucky if I pass on these techniques. I think I can fake my way through most of the standing parts but shiko really show off what you go. For me, that is a bad thing. It is really a wonder to watch Sidney swim across the mat on his knees. When it comes to swari waza, he is “The MAN!”

I, on the other hand, an most definitely NOT “the man”, not the young adult, not the child. Maybe an infant.


Once A Night Is Good Enough

I missed Aikido class last night and as fortune threw the dice I had a free evening tonight so I went to the Aikido of Dallas class.

There were were only two other students there so with me and the teacher a total of four practiced. That was the smallest number I've ever seen there and I think it was a bit of a fluke.

Anyway, Charlie taught the class and I think he remembered me a little from the time he taught at Plano. I think the other two students had practiced around two years so I was at approximately the same experience level and I was only a bit of the dufus.

I probably worry too much about embarrassing myself, but I can't help it and I keep coming. It is a strange thing really, why go to a place were everybody is better than you? I guess as long as I enjoy it I'll just accept it and maybe I just have no shame, or I keep a "beginner's mind" an live in the moment.

That is my problem, I never know if any of my traits are good or bad on the moral value scale. And that comment may be reveal yet another problem.

We spent the night with the Katatetori attack with different responses. The highlight came near the end of class when we went to the old favorite, Koshinage.

Fortunately for me when teaching at Plano, Alberto loves his Koshinage. Anyway the above video is an extract of my first Aikido post which was about Koshi nage. I found a site that allows you to put in a YouTube link and download it as an avi file, after which I then put it into Adobe Premiere to edit it so it only showed the Koshinage that we used.

Anyway, when it was my turn I was the only one that could do it close to correctly. Charlie even let out a “that was good”, with a little bit of surprise I think. So for once tonight I was not the last in the class. Hurray!


Don't Be Left Behind - A New Series

There is another dojo that shall remain un-named where the Sensei asks if you have any requests and if you say anything other than “Whatever you recommend Sensei” he will repeat “Do you have any requests?” again and again as if he didn't hear you, until you give up. Fortunately at the Plano dojo Sidney is nothing like that.

Tonight I brought my note cards of the 4th kyu test with my check marks of the techniques I'm confused about. I read them off to Sidney before class with the preface that if he asks, these are the things I would like to work on.

3 of the 4 things I mentioned started with Ushiro (from the back) techniques and so we spent the whole 90 minutes on that attack.

1.Ushiro Ryokatatori Shihonage
2. Ushiro Tekubitori Sankyo
3.Ushiro RyoKatatori Kategaeshi

So it was a great review for me, and either it was more physically stressful or I was just weaker than normal, but I I was really worn out by the end. My gi was soaked more than normal and hours after class I still have that wonderful clear lung breathing that comes after really strenuous exercise.

All that energy spent gave me permission to drink a bottle of wine after I got home. So it was a really good night!

The video shows Ushiro RyoKatatori Kategaeshi in a more flashy form than we did tonight, but it is essentially the same technique.


If You Can't Do Something Well, Might As Well Do It Poorly - ZM

I have a few ideas for some Aikido Posts but my other topics call to me, if only because they feel neglected. Perhaps this is just a place for me to remember that I have thought about different things, no matter how silly.

I've pondered my animation project and here is a very, very crude storyboard of the project. It won't make much sense unless the story is written, but at least it is a record that I did something, no matter how poorly.


I get no kick from Tae-kwon-Do,

a mere kick or punch doesn't thrill me at all....

please imagine (or click on the picture) Clevon Little singing “I Get a Kick Out of You” in the opening scene of Blazing Saddles.

Our dojo is just any available area mat in a gymnastics center, and tonight the Taekwon-Do school moved into the building. They must pay a bunch of money because the gymnastics center gave them a room for an office and now EVERYBODY has to go through a previously hidden door to get to their practice mats.

When asked which martial art was better, I once heard an Aikido Sensei say that at the highest levels all martial arts start blending together. That seemed a wise thing to me and I usually just say that Aikido is what speaks to me and avoid any discussion of which martial art is “better”.

But....I have to point out a few things. While we were waiting for an opening on the mat we watched a kids class of Taekwon-Do, and there was mess of them all punching like mad.

I can't help but be a little judgmental because when I saw the kicking techniques I couldn't help but notice the students after the kids class, their center was off and the emphasis was all on hitting the boxing mit.

Then there is the shout they apparently had to scream when they kicked. The problem is that is sounded like really weak sheep rather than powerful warriors. Check out this sound, this is what it sounded like.

Another thing I can't help but notice is that all of teachers looked to be in or just out of high school. So there was quite a contrast between Sidney and their teachers. But if it works for them I suppose I should be happy they found something they like. Another thing is I didn't see any old people like me.

Toward the end I really had trouble concentrating because they were “baaaing” so much. I suppose I'll get used to it.

Post Script: I love the way anime uses cats to provide an innocent tension breaker.


But why is “La esposa del hombre está sentada sobre él” ?

Note to self: You just finished Level 1: Unit 4: Lesson 7

Well......I watched TV last night but tonight I finished another lesson in Spanish.

Imagine missing a few classes and when you finally make it to class there is quiz, but wonderfully it is stuff you pretty much know. That is something like the lesson seven tonight. I was ready to take my medicine and even retrace my study steps, but I caught a break and whizzed through it all.

I see the last lesson was “Verbos Multiples y Mientras” but I can't really remember what that was.

So in preparation for my next memory lapse, in lesson 7, Unit 4 we worked on possessions and family relations. So you say El niño y sus padres rather than su padres, and dos hermanos e su madre, meaning the possessive indicator matches the object rather than the subject. Is that correct way to explain it?

Also you would say “Estas cuatro personas..” and NOT ...cuatros or cuatras personas. For some unknown reason during the speaking part I was always trying to add an “s” to cuatro when there were personas involved.

BUT you say “La mujer está parada con SU esposo e hijos”, even though the woman is standing with more than one person. Would one say “...”su esposo e sus hijos.”? That one didn't come up.

AND, I didn't remember “e” meant “and”, obviously “y” = and, but “e”? If I once knew it I lost that somewhere along the way.

If I think about it, this is a pretty haphazard way to study Spanish. I remember reading an article by George Leonard about Aikido where he indicated one of the worst type of students were the dabblers, who flitted from one interest to another and never focused on one thing and followed through. I see his point, if you are going to study something why make a half-ass attempt?

Even with just a cursory self examination I see that dabbler pretty much describes me, so if I accept Leonard's point should I simply quit all these things since if you do something you should only do it if you intend to “win”? There is a good chance I'll never win in the race to speak Spanish, or be a good aikdoka or be an interesting animator.

To bring up my blog premise, what should I do with the next 25 years? Am I here to do a half ass job or to win the prize?

Conclusion: I may remain a perpetual novice but I don't want to do things half-ass-ed. I may never really speak Spanish, or make a good animation, or take a great Aikido breakfall, meaning I won't win the prize. So even if I must remain an amateur, from now on I plan to use my whole ass, every last bit of it! No more of the half stuff.

Take that George Leonard!


A Yokomenuchi up side the head

Was tonight a breakthrough? If I can hold on to what we did, it may very well be one of the wonderful yet few and small victories.

The gist is in Yokomenuchi you mirror Uke as he attacks and use the “hot” arm (the one closest to the attacker) to block and if the strike to the head is somewhat high, the other arm or “cool” arm swings up from BELOW for Ikkyo, Nikkyo, Sankyo, etc...

BUT if the strike is a little lower, the “cool” arm follows the blocking arm down from the TOP and maintains the last contact before Iriminage or Kotegaishi. But in the second example you end up face to face with each other whereas in the other type you go straight for the technique.

The "hot" and "cool" designation I got from a guy a the dojo that spent many, many years practicing Tomiki Aikido, where there is a competition process. I gather it is a lot tougher.

For some reason those terms help me remember what to do.

Self Study = No Study

Last night I considered working on some Spanish. After all it has been almost a month since I last worked on it.

But then I ended up watching Allegro Non Troppo by Bruno Buzzetto
Check out some of his stuff HERE . Anyway, after that I spent an hour working on transferring an LP to CD (a project I thought I had finished last week, until I actually listened to the CD). So all that plus dinner and some light house cleaning meant I never got around to studying Spanish.

Unfortunately I’m afraid it shows a flaw in my character. It is pretty obvious I’m just lazy. Maybe for a lazy person the self paced study method isn’t really the best way to proceed. It is easy to go to Aikido class three times a week when I have no family or work obligations. And when I took Italian classes I didn’t miss any. But left on my own I have no will power over stuff cooler than the work it takes to learn another language.

But, I’m not giving up yet. Maybe I can show some strong moral fiber on Thursday and study up on the ol’ Spanish Rosetta Stone.

FYI, the LP I was working on was the double album of Woody Allen’s standup comedy routines from 1964 – 1968


Wreckage of ZeppoManx-athon

“The history of a man's life is the history of a failure. That is my happiness.”

from Wreckage of Agathon by John Gardner (1970)

I'm in Charlotte, North Carolina and I practiced at Aikido of Charlotte tonight. It was a good class and a nice change from the IT convention which I am attending. I opted out of a few “networking” social events in order to walk the mile and ½ to the dojo.

The strange thing was that while I mostly adapted to a different dojo, there were a few points that really threw me. For one thing, previously whenever I've worked from a static beginnings Shomenuchi was always Gyaku Hamni where Uke always steps as he strikes. To get your bearings you look at your partner's stance and change accordingly. Tonight I had no idea what to day. I would change my stance and then the other guy would change his so that it looked wrong for me.

Then we practiced a different version of Shomenuchi Nikkyo and it it also confused me, so I looked pretty stupid.

But even though I recognized my failures, I had a good time and felt purified. There is something about an Aikido practice that cleanses your body and soul.

As an aside I saw that the Mind + Body convention was finishing as the IT Service Management Convention started. I kind of wished I was going to four days of Mind + Body rather than professional networking, 10 seminars and 5 uplifting motivational speaches.

If only my work would send me to an Aikido convention.


Am I an Anime-maniac?

from BOOD+:  第11話「ダンスのあとで」!

Somehow I've become mildly obsessed with Japanese animation (both movies and TV series). I can tell myself that spending hours watching DVDs is a form of research for any future animation I may attempt.

What is the deal with Anime and schoolgirls in school uniforms?

But the result is I'm WAY behind in Español AND any Animation. Jeez I'm lazy!

As an aside, thank goodness for Dallas's Premier Video, since I no longer use Netflix they are the next best thing. WAY more animie than any Blockbuster.

from Kiki's Delivery Service 魔女の宅急便


Are You Handy with Handchi?

Tonight for half the class we practiced Hanmi Handachi, where Nage is moving around on their knees and the Uke (the attacker) is standing. The advantage over Suwari Waza (both moving on their knees) is that in the former you at least get to rest your knees for half the time. So I guess it could have been worse. Jeezz I'm bad at this stuff!!

And HANMI HANDACHI is just another one of those things about Aikido that doesn't look immediately applicable, but I guess I actually started moving a little better tonight. I may still be bad but my ray of hope is that I'm not as bad as I once was.



“There is no enemy for Ueshiba of Aikido. You are mistaken if you think that budo means to have opponents and enemies and to be strong and fell them. There are neither opponents nor enemies for true budo. True budo is to be one with the universe; that is to be united with the Center of the universe.”

Whereas the developers of modern Judo and Karate applied modern and logical teaching methods to pass on their martial art, O-sensei used elaborate Shinto mythology and ambiguous aphorisms when speaking about Aikido.

I have yet to hear anybody speak of Kami or suggest we have a Shinto purification ritual. And aside from references in biographies that come across as hagiography, and the occasional reference to “Ki”, you don't hear much more than the practical aspects of blending with the attacker's momentum.

I think that somehow, something of the founder's ways are still with us just from the feel of a traditional Aikdio class. I suppose one remnant of O-sensei's inspiration is that although there is a set list of techniques to learn as you take Aikido tests, I don't think there is a uniform method of teaching, and every teacher emphasizes what the like. So, in a way it is amazing there is as much uniformity of results in different dojos.

O-Sensei was a follower of Oomoto-kyo of which I gather is an offshoot of Shinto, and has been led by charismatic leaders, and they all thought they would change the world. It sounds like Oomoto-kyo was the Shinto equivalent of a 18th century American Utopian / revivalist movement. They were divinely inspired, genuine and thought they could change the world through love.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all conflict really could be resolved or even dissolved. What if a whole hearted iriminage was really “turning the other cheek”. Wouldn't it be wonderful if any confrontation is embraced and transformed into harmony? Wouldn't be wonderful if we could change the world? Wouldn't it all be wonderful.

O-Sensei really felt Aikdo could transform the world, and he repeatedly states Aikdio is a manifestation of Love. Oh What Paradise It Seems!

For now I'll just try to do a decent Koshi-nage.

"The Art of Peace does not rely on weapons or brute force to succeed; instead we put ourselves in tune with the universe, maintain peace in our own realms, nurture life, and prevent death and destruction. The true meaning of the term samurai is one who serves and adheres to the power of love."


O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass


ZeppoManx <> Koshi Nage

Today there were 2 first timers and 1 that has been practicing for only a few months, Alberto, Sidney, two much more advanced students...then me. So the most advanced work with the least advanced. This meant that I worked with the same partner for the whole class.

It was a little strange in that Alberto would demonstrate a technique and then show a simpler version for the majority of the class. Meaning I was put in the small more advanced group, of course the way more advanced people were helping out the beginners.

For a bit the two of us worked on a few koshi nage throws. And although in the past I've done reasonably well with my old nemesis Koshi Nage (well...sometimes maybe), but today was a total loss. I don't think I ever performed a passable throw. I took a bunch but I never turned the tables.

The thing about Koshi Nage is that you cannot fake it, Uke cannot just go along and make your job easy. If you don't find Uke's center you cannot do the move, unless you are have a really strong back you cannot flip someone over.

I'm not strong enough to throw someone over me, so it is all or nothing. In a way it is a great move to practice because if you get it right you really know you got it right.

I never got it right.

The founder, know as O-Sensei somewhere said...

Failure is the key to success;
Each mistake teaches us something

At this rate I'll be a freakin' Super expert by the time I die.

Since there is no class Monday and I have to miss Wednesday I hope to use my time to write a decent posting about the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (called O-Sensei). I only mention it because if anybody reads it I want them to recognize my obvious literary reference. It is really obvious if you've had to take American Lit or even watched the pretentious movie “Dead Poet's Society”.

The picture above shows how koshi nage should be done, not what I did.


Is My Aikido I.Q. Dropping?

This past Saturday I attended a short seminar at Aikdo of Dallas. The teacher was Peter Bernath, Shichidan (7th degree black belt) and Shihan (master teacher), so I guess he is a pretty big muckamuck
in the Aikido world. I don't remember too much except that it seemed like with more than a few things he had us work on, we had to make movements contrary to a common sense approach.

One example was a yokomenuchi attack where we had to slide in and to the side of Uke and turn around (putting our back to the attack for a short time) and then end up with the attacking arm in front of our face where we somehow went to Shihonage.

I don't know if it is seminars or just the Dallas dojo, but I seem to loose a few points of Aikido I.Q. Whenever I'm there. On Wednesday at Minneapolis I was able adequately perform Sankyo to a Katatetori attack, but with the thing in Dallas on Saturday I never got the hang of it. And I don't know what I was doing differently.

I'm sure I was a frustrating partner to work with since I was such a dunce. But it was still fun, and even though it was only a 3 hour seminar I was really exhausted by the end, and my body must have provided some sort of Edorphin shot, or something, because I felt great the rest of the day. Maybe life isn't just a lingering disease ending in death.

The clip above shows Skip Chapman talking about Yonkyo, whom I believe taught at the first seminar I attended.


Verbos Multiples y Mientras

Note to self: You just finished Level 1: Unit 4: Lesson 6

As the title shows, this lesson had a few more verbs and threw in “mientras”. As usual I could more or less handle the vocabulary or at least get up to speed quickly but the speaking is really clumsy, as if I have gum in my mouth.

It had been so long since I last work on this I wasn't sure where I finished.

I see that my last Español entry was a month ago. My one time goal was to finish a Unit a week and so far I'm lucky to finish one lesson (of eight) in a week. But rather than whine about it I'll plunge ahead and simply try to do better, which in this case means faster.

The last month has been a bit hectic, what with work trips, family vacations and then I went and read a few novels. Of course a dedicated autodidact would find a way. I wonder if using an a computer program to learn still means you can call your self and autodidact?

At the start of this thing I proposed three things to fill my remaining years, but I never said I would ever get good at any of them. And so far I'm pretty weak on all three counts. I'm not going to worry about it for now.

There is a chance I will never be good at any of these interests and I don't know if that is pathetic, wise, silly or just neutral. Just because you are interested in something doesn't mean you are good at it.


Twin Cities Aikido

I am in Minneapolis tonight and practiced at the Twin Cities Aikido dojo. We worked on Katate Tori with a number of Kokyu Ho responses. Most people were more advanced than me, but I comported myself without too much embarrassment.

Interestingly I saw that there was a picture of Akira Tohei Shihan on the wall. And somebody before class mentioned him, and then the Sensei mentioned him three times I think. Tohei Shihan is a presence at the Dallas dojo and of course at Midwest Aikido but I don’t remember anybody mentioning him when I was in Chicago.


Animation Exercise Number 6. Another Checkpoint.

Here is the last lesson of six from the on-line Anime Studio Pro class. One might think it is not much, but for the $20 and the time I put into it I think it worked out well. Even though it is still simple and nothing special, the course covered many of the fundamentals and the exercises were appropriate for someone new to the application.

My plan is to have something to show worth showing in a few months time.


Koshi Nage With A Twist

Today we worked on some ushiro often with kubishime and we did two types of Koshi nage from there, which were amazingly simple. The video above shows one type, but the other was even easier where you didn't pass their grasping hand over you head. You simply grabbed Uke's arm that was wrapped around your neck and shifted your weight down and to the side and bingo, Uke is un-balanced and on the side of your hip. You shift your weight up and twist a bit, and Uke rotate/flips over like magic.


The easiest Koshinage I've ever seen or done.

I wish we would have switched partners and tried again as I'm curious how it would work on different body types. My partner was shorter than me so it was easy to get him on my hip when I stood up slightly.

On a side subject, well more a sore leg subject, I stopped riding my bicycle around the lake these last few weeks since that seems to make things hurt after the ride. But I thought my inner leg muscles were in good shape today, and class was fine. But afterward I walked like a really old man. I heard of one aikidoka (aikido practitioner ) who spends ½ an hour a day stretching so there are no problems with the Aikido practice.

It sounds like a plan, if I ever recover fully. Although that sounds like just the kind of thing I would have a problem putting into practice.

FYI, Spanish has really fallen to the “back burner”, but I plan to keep going when I have the chance. Animation is still in action so 2 out of 3 isn't bad.


“Listen to what Uke is saying to you and not what you are saying to yourself”

Tonight we worked on many ushiro attacks of which toward the end we practiced koshinage that was a transformed ikkyo, in that we could have easily ended the technique with ikkyo rather than koshinage.

But I want to make note of Sidney emphasizing that we needed to “Listen to what Uke is saying to you and not what you are saying to yourself”.When Sidney speaks with his so soft voice you really pay attention. It is hard to integrate into your practice but you really feel you are getting a sense of the whole Aikido “enchilada”. He talked about this after class and a few of us hung around to listen. You really get the sense he is trying to honestly pass along what he has learned.

After a year and a half I'm still excited about practicing Aikido, and I enjoy practicing at other dojos when the opportunity arises. I don't know of any reason to suspect this might happen, but if Sidney left and I had to practice at another dojo, I don't know if I would keep with it. Probably, but thank goodness I don't have to worry about that.

I tried but failed to find that particular type of koshinage we practiced, so the above is a clip of Kisshomaru Ueshiba demonstrating ushiro tekubitori ikkyo.


Never tell the Sensei you're tired!

Sidney Sensei taught today and we worked on a few ryotetori techniques. A very small class of 4 adults 1 child and Sensei.

My favorite was ryotetori kotegaishi where all you do is bring one of your hands in front of you and place your other hand on Uke's wrist and apply kotegaishi. No footwork to speak of. Anyway, when it works it is almost magical.

I've been on vacation for over a week with no exercise, so I was pretty whipped by the half way point of class. My partner at the time had to attend to a visitor of some such thing, and I hoped this would give me chance to take a break and recover. As I started to head towards the sidelines Sensei looked at me and I said “I'm tired” thinking this would seal the deal on my rest time.

He immediately motioned that I should work with him. Working with Sidney ALWAYS wears me out. But he thought this was the perfect opportunity for some much needed special instruction. For the next 15 minutes he tried to teach me that if you are tired the best thing to do is to not fight the techniques but relax and basically give yourself totally to the moves. He showed me how fighting wears one out and that if you are relaxed you can actually rest in the midst of the action.

And I “Got It”, mostly. I could see his point and I know I kept resisting, but even though I tried to relax I have always had a problem with that part of my practice. Boy was I tired afterwards.

So, even though I say “ Never tell the Sensei you're tired!” I don't mean it because if you have a teacher who is always looking for ways to help you, advice comes at the most unexpected moments.


Happiness Runs In A Circular Motion

Tonight we worked on a few responses to Yokomenuchi which is nice since we practiced some of the things on the 4th kyu test I hope to take in September or October ( I'm saving up for a blog entry about Aikido testing).

I suppose this applies to any move in Aikido, but with Yokomenuchi it seems an especially true expression of the whole “deal” and particularly relevant. With a side strike to the head the Aikdo response is to keep the proper distance (ma'ai ) but really you embrace the attack and then redirect the force if you do anything else you are lost. If somebody isn't cooperating you lose. It's all or nothing. With Shomenuchi or tsuki, if you are fast enough you could just get out of the way, but here you are supposed to step into the direction of the strike and use that force all the way to the end.

The video above resembles what we did tonight but Sidney really showed how it was effective when you followed through and maintained the circular motion.

As an aside, I'm still trying to ignore this sore muscle and still trying not to aggravate it but sill keep coming to practice.


The Cat Is Slept ???

It took a while but I finally busted out the Rosetta Stone for some Español action. For the record tonight I finished Level 1: Unit 4: Lesson 5. I think the previous lesson was a bit boring because it was really hard to motivate myself into study mode. Especially when there is animation and video editing on the same notebook computer all just a few clicks away.

This lesson raised the bar somewhat, in that they slipped in the past participle as in “El gato está dormido” after "El gato está durmiendo".

I'm still pleased with “The Stone” but there are some drawbacks such as no explanation of the two types of sleep (-ido versus -iendo). The present progressive is easily translatable as “The cat is sleeping”, but what is “The cat is slept”?

Then there is the problem stepping onto la escalera, las escleras or los escalones. I think they are respectively, the ladder, stairs, steps. You are left to figure these things out just by choosing until you get the correct answer. But maybe that is their point, you learn by failure more than by traditional study.

I hope so.


Now that I've slept on it, maybe this is a lesson that sometimes the problem is with English. We say "He is sitting" and "He is seated". So why don't we say "He is slept"?

English, what a wacky language.


Cats as Cats Can

This is niether Aikdo, nor Spanish, nor Animation, but I still managed to spend a whole lot of time working on it.

Another one of my peculiarities is that even though I intellectually know other people couldn't care a bit for my cats, I still suspect that deep down if they really knew them they would be totally charmed.

So, here they are and I'm a little ashamed to realize how proud I am.


Animation Station: Lesson 3

I was going to focus on Spanish tonight but after work, grocery shopping, general chores and dinner, I lost energy. So I worked on this week's lesson in Animation from www.eclecticacademy.com. I know the result looks pretty basic, but as far as these things go it was a good project. That 5 seconds worked in multiple ways of creating and coloring shapes while organizing at least 3 layers of images.

In case you can't tell, it is an underwater scene and the object is a cartoon submarine.

Maybe before Aikido class tommorrow I can squeze in some quality Español time in.


Give and Take and Give...

I think we had an exceptionally insightful class tonight. We started off with a short breakfall practice on some soft gymnastic mats but that was just a warm up. However it was an indication of the class to come in that we didn't really work on techniques.

At least half of the class we worked on “feeling” what was an Aikido response would be to pressure from two arms raised with the wrists touching in a crossed fashion. I acknowledged the pressure from nage and stepped off the line of attack, but then I would freeze before I could decide what to do, allowing uke to regain their balance.

BUT, once or twice I actually relaxed enough to to follow up with an actual Aikido technique, thanks to Brian working with me a bit. Even if the whole thing is a little contrived it felt great. It is contrived because Uke and Nage work together, but of course, in a sense any “practice” by it's very nature is contrived, almost by definition.

If I was going to argue what was “real” I think a strong argument could be that this “practice” is possibly more real than than a more complicated and exotic arrangement of flashy techniques. We were trying to sense the motion and respond accordingly which I think is the whole point of Aikido.

Plus for some reason I love it when Sidney talks about how we look for information from the pressure of a wrist. The idea of gathering info from the way a person grabs you is really a pretty cool way to think of an attack. Basically not as an attack but a connection with consequences.


My Strength Lies Within?

I noticed yesterday a leg muscle was sore and as the class progressed I felt the unpleasantness grow.

I suppose this is an aspect of any physical pursuit, sometimes something gets hurt. I don't think the problem was from any particular technique, rather it is as if I pushed too hard during a leg stretch. The upshot is that with each thing we practiced I tried not to use my leg muscles. I had to attempt to avoid using any lower body force or my upper thighs would scream at me.

Not being an athlete I am unused to such problems but it makes me think this......Even acknowledging body ailments are part of any physical endeavor I wonder if there is a feature of Aikido that is fundamentally different from other athletic pursuits. I mean, if you hurt your arm in Baseball, you have to stop throwing until it heals. If you pull a leg muscle in football, surely you can't run while hurt. Basically the muscles are the part of the body that drives the sport. But in Aikido the muscles shouldn't be the force behind the technique, and if you use strength to compensate for lack of technique you actually deviate from the whole point of using the attacker's energy to diffuse the situation and bring it all to harmony. Therefore if you are forced into not using muscle you actually do better at the “sport”.

There is an often told story (told by me at least) perhaps apocryphal*, that I think I read of O'sensei telling somebody that even he didn't appreciate the moves of Aikido until he was in his 70s and he could no longer rely on strength to complete the move, he could only use the essence of Aikido to complete the technique. Where else would a bodily ailment actually lead you to a better result?
*(I just love to use that phrase, "perhaps apocryphal")

Of course I don't know if I actually improved, but I did discover that to do whatever technique was required, I was forced to move with my whole body rather than straining my legs to finish the move.

That said....I read this at an Aikido blog where an injury is a bit more serious. “Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with a subdural haematoma and admitted to hospital for surgery almost immediately. The internal bleeding that was crushing my brain, causing violent headaches and swollen eyes, was the result of an injury sustained in the dojo more than two months earlier.” uchuuaiki.blogspot.com


It's All Just Like Ikkyo

Tonight Sidney Sensei was elegant as ever.

More Katatetori, which we worked on last Saturday was the topic tonight but Sidney has a way of showing you the gracefulness of a technique that, for me, speaks to the heart of why I practice Aikido.

What stuck tonight was that Sidney repeatedly said “It's just like in Ikkyo” when the technique itself was ostensively nothing like Ikkyo yet upon elaboration the truth of the observation was clear. I've heard the multitude of attack-technique variations said to be thousand and conversely the approaches to Aikido as few in essence. So tonight I weigh these two aspects, everything is either an explosion of possibility or merely one of a few inevitabilities.

The picture is from The Seven Samurai and I only use it because I was watching it earlier and I like it.


¡I Have Eyes But Cannot See!

Saturday we had an all Katatetori Day ..., Irimi Nage and Ikkyo are what I remember and from this I compose this thought for a day.

In Aikido sometimes the “point” of the technique is obvious even if you can't quite master it and sometimes it is NOT obvious.
(pretty great huh?)

Here is an example of Katatetori Ikkyo

Usually the heart of a technique is something like “Get off the line of attack, unbalance Uke, perform the technique”. Today the Iriminage response to a wrist grab made sense and I could see that if I had the skill it would work on anyone. But then I worked on the Ikkyo response with the only regular black belt at our dojo (aside from the two Senseis) and besides his Aikido ability he knows other martial arts and is just plain strong.

Quick aside:
In Katatetori Ikkyo you don't step “off” the line you take control of the attacker's line that goes through his center and then perform Ikkyo.

The matter came to a head when I just could not get my partner into Ikkyo, I never “felt” that moment when Uke was ready to go down. I never really saw the unbalancing and so I tried to use muscle. THAT was a mistake that I still feel with every word I type.

The troublesome part is that when I was Uke I could not tell whether I was thrust to the floor because of Aikido or just the strength of my OBVIOUSLY stronger partner so I never saw the essence of the thing. He was wonderful in trying to show me what I was doing wrong, but he is one strong guy and if I was going to perform this technique there was no way my inadequate strength would compensate for a lack of Aikdio technique.

To my despair I never “Got It”. Maybe next time.


¡Tal Vez Esto Va a Ayudarme!

I found some of the Frank Miller graphic novels in Spanish so I'm trying to read them to augment my exotic Rosetta Stone program. There can't be a better way to learn a language than comics, can there?

Above and below are some scans of my self imposed assignments. Please excuse any obscenities in Español.


Break Down Break Fall or Un-Break This Part

Sidney Sensei (or is that Shiba Sensei?) was still on vacation so brown belt Mark taught tonight and it was all good stuff. But for some reason what comes to mind now is an Aikido video I found.

Just look at the evolution to a break fall that comprises the first half of the video. If I can ever do a decent and even half way elegant break fall I think my Aikido career will be complete. Even though I can more or less handle a break fall situation now, it usually scares the Nage too much since I land with the arm at about the same time as the rest of my body. I'm fine and it doesn't hurt, but....

I have seen Aikdo instruction videos that don't even worry about the softness of a break fall but once you've seen it, you realize how beautiful it is.

Anyway watch the arm of the Aikidota. I think that is the key. I tried it a little tonight before class, but one of the drawbacks of not having a real dojo means you have less free mat time than other dojos.


¿Again with the Cansado?

I just felt too wiped out ( mejor dicho, "Estoy cansado") to go to Aikido tonight. Simply not enough sleep the night before, plus a little stress of trying to squeeze too much into too little time. And with me being a lazy person by nature I sometimes just give in and go home.

A contributing factor may have been the my arm and shoulder muscles that hurt more today than they did yesterday after Saturday's Aikido gymnastics.

I tried to use the extra time to catch up some with español and to report on the first animation assignment from www.eclecticacademy.com.

I finished Unit 3 (lessons 1 – 11) of Level 1 of Rosetta Stone. So far so good I guess, although I'm still not working very hard as the beginner stuff is pretty easy. Plus I paid all that money to Rosetta Stone so it would be easy didn't I?

Here are some good Spanish words
tiene avergonzado
tiene orgulloso
está cogiendo

Plus “Son las dos pasados” which I guess means a little past two.

The picture is from the my very first assignment with the cheap online Anime Studio beginner's class. Very simple, but I wanted to archive the result to compare to to what comes after the other 5 weeks of exercises.

I posted a question on the Anime Studio class form and got a reply today with an answer. So event though the start is pretty rudimentary I guess there is not much room to complain with a $20 Internet course. Plus so far there is a one day response form the teacher.

Here is the link to where I will post my results... www.virtual-weltanschauung.com/astudio/


Ukemi or The Art of Falling

Today was Ukemi Saturday with the peak being what I wouldn't categorize as Aikido Ukemi. Two people face each other with one (#1) holding the wrists of the other(#2). Then #2 twists around as if to give the other a back stretch. #1 kicks their legs up and and over the head of #2 and bingo they are facing each other. It turned out to be amazingly simple, but unfortunately after a few times I started to think about what was happening and apparently made things difficult for my partner.

I couldn't find a clip of the what I describe above but here is a clip of which we did some of the falls.


¿El tiene frio, hambre, calor?

I fell even more behind in My Español but my new plan is try and fire up the ol' Rosetta stone at least every other day if not every day and spend even just a few minutes chipping away at it.

Tonight I made it to Lesson 7 of Unit 3 and we started in with us being hungry, hot, full, cold and thirsty. Pretty basic stuff but along the way I encountered some new words which is nice. I'm curious to see when it starts to become really difficult, but I should think I'll have to really start the hard work around Unit 5. So I better build up some steam for that.

But for now..
¡Yo estoy cansado!


Yonkyo and the Forearm of Pain

YONKYO: Fourth teaching. Refers to pressure applied on a nerve point in the lower forearm to bring the attacker into a pinning position.

Tonight we mainly worked on Kokyu Nage (Breath Throw) of which the number of actual techniques seem endless. However, for a short time we switched to YONKYO. Yonkyo is a really fascinating technique because while learning it you might say "Yes this could be effective". But once a master of the technique has applied Yonkyo to your forearm you know that somehow a dagger has mysteriously been inserted to the center of bone and you MUST drop to the floor.

All the talk of harmony, flow, blending...it all disappears. All that matters is that you go down. When learning we mostly approximate it and sometimes I suppose the situation will mean Yonkyo is less piercing. And I'm told the more often it is done to you the less fearsome it becomes to you.

But for me the memory of Sidney Sensei softly controlling my arm followed by the stab into the center of my forearm as I dropped, is a reminder of two things.

1. Aikido started as a way to effectively control and manage an attack
2. While techniques can be learned in a reasonable amount of time. A real master is just that. A master of techniques.

The above video demonstrates Yonkyo but watching is such a pale intimation of the real deal.


Senior Students Step Forward Please

I’m in Pittsburgh tonight and practiced at Three Rivers Aikikai at Carnegie Mellon University. The Head Instructor was out of town so another black belt taught the class. There were only three other people plus the instructor, one had practiced for less than two months and the another was there for the 3rd or 4th time. I think the last student was still somewhat new but he looked better than me in his techniques.

The gist was that the instructor kept referring to me as the senior student and I was uke for the instruction almost half the time. After class I commented that I was uncomfortable being a senior student and she said that it was good for a student to be in that role sometimes.

While there are sometimes less experienced people at our dojo I know that my time with them is short and somebody better will be working to correct any errors. I offer help when I can, but I know others will help more.

So, it was a different and an interesting night.

While traveling I have practiced at 8 other dojos and 1 judo class. I first look for a USAF (US Aikido Federation) and if there is none I check for ASU (Aikido Schools of Ueshiba) and so far that has worked out well.


I'm Rubber, You're Glue

Aikido Article Here --
Former-Self Defense

I'm passing along an article my sister sent me. Some may find something to object to in the article such as the “Vulcan Nerve Pinch” (never seen it in a dojo), or being labeled “bookish” dorks. But it is a humor piece so we can let that go, and of course it applies to me anyway.

One point it alludes to but doesn't address directly is “Why do we practice Aikido?”

I have never been in a fight and probably won't in the future. In the past I've been able to talk my way out of trouble much like the author of the article did I suppose. I wonder if I ever became good at Aikido would I be more likely to not talk and actually fight? This would be ironic since O'Sensei's realization was that Aikido is “not a technique to fight with or defeat the enemy. It is the way to reconcile the worl and make human beings one family.” (The Way of Aikido by George Leonard)

It may be I simply practice because it is so freakin' cool, even when you are bad at it.


Next Stop: Animation Station

I was having a few problems with the animation software and when looking for answers I found this site that offers an online course for only $20 at www.eclecticacademy.com. Here is an excerpt from their website.

Q. What is the length of the classes - How many weeks?

A. A semester runs for six (6) weeks and includes six (6) lessons. A lesson is posted every Sunday and you have the entire week to complete it.

So after a quick trip to PayPal, I signed up and it starts July 8th. Reports will follow.


The UN-Doing of Aikido

Tonight we finished our class with a true exercise, meaning we didn't learn a specific technique.

Two people raise arms and one person slowly presses against the their partner's wrist as if they are aiming for the other person's head. Something like two people crossing swords. The second person should feel the intention and the pressure then remove any “information” and step off the line of attack, yet keep the connection to the other person. The two people switch roles and weave around their space almost like a dance.

Our Sensei made a few comments that I think are worth noting. During the initial instruction he implied that this exercise was not a technique but rather we are just doing “Aikido”. And when dealing with specifics he pointed out that in Aikido the point is to take advantage of any indication of the opponent's intention and use the appropriate technique and here we are trying to respond with no indication of our plans and in fact proceed no further than that.

In this case both people were trying to do NO technique and deliver NO “information” to the other person. Each person in turn presented a small intention toward the other's head but the “opponent” simply removes resistance (while keeping contact) and then the roles were immediately reversed. So with each exercise there was only non-resistance and a lack of technique.

Learning the essence of Aikido by doing no Aikido technique. Even experienced students had trouble adjusting and relaxing. The playing field was level for a few minutes and we were touching the core of Aikido.

I think this also relates to something Brian previously demonstrated, in that each technique has the potential of being reversed. Reversed, because you are giving too much information of your plan to
Uke who takes that and redirects your plan until it become their own.

I'm not sure the image above applies but I felt it presents the idea of contact yet not control.
No Theological implication to be inferred, just looking at a picture.