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.