"You What A Piece Of ME!!!"

Charlie taught Aikido tonight and we worked mostly with basic tsukipunch to the stomach) then kote-gaishi and yokomenuchi (side strike to the head) with shiho-nage and then slight ending variations. His point was that the basics of the technique stays the same no matter the variation.

During one type of shiho-nage at the point you bring uke's arm down like a sword I kept ending somehow stretched out and Charlie Sensei commented it was a common habit with me. I think it may come from the 6 to 9 months I took a fencing class my sophomore year of High School, literally decades ago. But I saw my position as the a “lunge” you use in foil fencing.

So I not only have to work out bad Aikido habits but habits from whatever I've ever done in life.

Then we finished up with two attacking one person (Ji Waza) with limited attack techniques. A really great workout but I fear I pooped out earlier than others. Still, it is a cool experience. What would you do if two people came at you menacingly? Of course this was controlled environment but if you get flustered with nice people coming at you, imagine what effect criminals would have on you.

Below is something like what we did although they are much, much better than me.


Moon Morning

Here is this morning's record of the pre-dawn start of my ride around the lake. I was actually a few minutes later than yesterday and the moon was really large then. But today had a very nice morning moon.

Below is a hard to discern pic of some geese swimming in the dark


Springtime At White Rock Lake

I was obliged to miss Aikido yesterday, didn't ride my bicycle, overate, drank too much and generally walked through the day in a depressive and/or oppressive funk. (I'm not sure what that means; I'm just playing with the words)

But it is amazing what a good night's sleep will do for you and this morning I rode around the lake and took some pics of White Rock Lake edging toward spring. Just last Sunday Morning there were many inches of snow but now the grass is green, the trees are budding flowers and weeds show their best side with startling colors you can't miss as you ride by. At least for one morning the world no longer pulls your soul into it's sticky swamp of despair.

Plus I managed to ride my motorcycle up to White Rock Coffee to make this post, so right now things are pretty sweet.


Once More Around The Lake

A cell phone sunrise picture from this morning's ride around White Rock Lake in Dallas.


Remembrance of Books Past

Bibliosk8's comment on my previous post reminded me that way back in the 1980's I read some books by Ivan Illich who had some great observations about the bicycle.(see below)

Man, unaided by any tool, gets around quite efficiently. He carries one gram of his weight over a kilometer in ten minutes by expending 0.75 calories. Man on his feet is thermodynamically more efficient than any motorized vehicle and most animals. For his weight, he performs more work in locomotion than rats or oxen, less than horses or sturgeon. At this rate of efficiency man settled the world and made its history. At this rate peasant societies spend less than 5 per cent and nomads less than 8 per cent of their respective social time budgets outside the home or the encampment.

Man on a bicycle can go three or four times faster than the pedestrian, but uses five times less energy in the process. He carries one gram of his weight over a kilometer of flat road at an expense of only 0.15 calories. The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man's metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well.

Illich was a fascinating person and I went to a talk he gave in Dallas in 1983 and the idea of building your society around the idea of the most efficient method of transport (the bicycle) it really thrilling. But then you come across his notion that society puts impediments to such changes in place with Radical Monopolies..."By "radical monopoly" I mean the dominance of one type of product rather than the dominance of one brand. I speak about radical monopoly when one industrial production process exercises an exclusive control over the satisfaction of a pressing need, and excludes nonindustrial activities from competition." Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality, p52.

It is one of those ideas that you alternatively think subtle then obvious and back. At the time it was obvious if you wanted to use a bicycle as a real mode of transportation, since road constructions was everywhere but it seemed the more roads there were they were solely designed for cars to the point you couldn't ride you bike on them. I wonder if he would have an opinion of cities working to include bike lanes and bike trails now. I expect he would see it as mere lip service.

Anyway, it would be great if I dug out those old books and read them again. Of course he was the type of thinker that shames you with your own laziness and self deceptions.


Snow, Exercise and Diet

It snowed this morning and I used that as an excuse to not ride my bike. But by the afternoon I managed to squeeze in a ride around the lake and it was more of a workout than usual as the wind was really pretty strong,

Above is a pic from my ride and below one of the neighborhood this morning.

I plan to ride tomorrow morning but I got hooked on Season one of Heroes and since they are free online with netflix I stayed up late tonight and last night watching. I hope I can force myself out the door in the morning

This part of my new diet which I call "I drink Wine and Beer on the weekend and not during the week and I try to exercise more". After one week I weigh about the same but I swear my pants are not as tight and in Aikido I have more stamina. We will see how I feel after another week. I may have to redefine weekend to exclude Sunday


A Dark Rider

In an attempt at healthy living I rode my bicycle around the lake before work and since daylight savings time started yesterday I made most of the ride in the dark. I meant to get up at 6:00 but slept until 6:30; still enough time to ride for an hour.

Unfortunately a family emergency forced me to miss Aikido, so I guess I should have gone on Saturday. But if I had I wouldn't have been able to ride this morning since I had my wheels trued and chain replaced when I missed on Saturday. Oh what a complicated thing this living is.


A Weak Link In My Chain Of Being?

I slept too late today, felt generally “blue” and consequently skipped Aikido class today. I think I once read an Uchi Deshi blog where he was asked "what do you do if you don't feel like going to class?" and he replied "Go to class". I thought of that advice as I skipped today, pondering my self worth and quality of moral fiber.

But, you can only do that sort of thing so long, and I finally worked up enough energy to try and fix my bicycle which was suffering from warped wheels and a rusty chain. I was not going to try and “true” my wheels no matter how many you tube videos show me how. But I figured I could replace the chain myself. I had a chain breaker from the bike I had in the 1980's but the nail that drivse the pin out of the link was just too dang big.

While the bike shop fixed my wheels I looked at chain breakers and they ranged from $13 to $25. When the wheels were done I found out they would only charge $10 labor to replace my chain, and seeing that I have not changed a chain in over 15 years (even if I should have) I used all my math skills to determine it would take a decade to get my money out of the new chain breaker.

The net result is I now have no excuse not to ride around the lake before work. Was my lack of exercise the bad chain and wheels or was that link in the chain of reasoning merely an excuse? And that leads me back to my self worth and moral fiber, dang it all!

Below a picture of a rainbow I saw this week while driving, and I realized it had been years since I either saw or noticed a rainbow. They really are quite amazing.



Wednesday we started with Tai No Henko (0r is that Tai No Henka?), anyway I started off with Sensei and I finally noticed he was responding differently after the tenkan as he returned to the starting position. It had never come up before. Usually each participant focuses on the turn
(tenkan) and then ending with the right stance. I could feel a difference but could not figure out what was happening.

I tried to mimic but finally had to ask how you go back to start again. And I think he said you respond to the grip uke has and ultimately I suppose it mirrors the first half except in reverse. But the thing is that we have done that may times and I have done it at other dojos when I traveled but nobody ever point out that there might be something after yo think you are finished.

Another lesson is that the technique is never really finished, as one technique simply blends into another


Share The Tip Of The Sword With His Head!

What type of tip will you share?

I am starting a new topic...”Sensei Says!”

Sensei always looks for ways to express the subtle points of Aikido and sometimes the phrases have a unique quality that either comes from secret insight or a polyglot's overload of language.

Today was “Weapons Work” and we worked with the Bokken (wooden sword) not for actual martial application but to help us apply and understand our non weapons aikido techniques.

So today we where using the Bokken in a strike to the top of the head, and we all seemed to he holding back, keeping our our elbows too close to our heads or rather not giving our all to the motion of the strike. Not that we didn't use muscle and force to strike to the imaginary head, but that it really was not efficient.

So Sensei struggling to explain and came out with “Share the tip of the sword with his head!”. He then went on to say something like we were keeping our energy in, close to us and not “sharing” it with uke.

The phrase stuck with me and it does point out one of the interesting aspects of Aikido. In that O' Sensei made comments about harmony and there being "no enemy" but it is still a "Martial" endeavor and the reconciliation of those two aspects points not just to our view of Aikido (since slicing a head and harmony are normally two wildly different things), but to our approach to any endeavor. Meaning what do we dig about the thing we are doing; do we like the cool movement or the slicing of a head, the gentleness of sharing or the effectiveness of a strike to the head.

Of course this was just an exercise in our own personal movement. But still, there is the "sharing our sword..."


I Push A Very Small Envelope

I missed a week of Aikido classes plus either I am getting bigger or my gi is getting smaller (guess which) but in any case I now know I a REALLY out of shape after tonights class.

Charlie taught and it was a pretty small class. I can't remember much except that I pooped out during ji waza at the end.

This was my first time at the new location with the new floor which has a thin rubberized matt on top of the “Denver Floating Dojo Floor”. Which we worked on a week or so ago where the subfloor is 4” squares of some sort of hard foam glued to 8' x 4' plank of “OSB” then flipped over and then screw down more 8' x 4' planks.

On top of which the mat is placed.

Anyway it feels good and I wish I was better on it.

But getting home really tired and then having some bread, wine and mozzarella was pretty damn sweet. Maybe that is why my gi is getting smaller.