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.