One thing we worked on tonight was two responses to shomen-uchi (overhead strike to the head). The first was just getting off line and the obvious next step is kote gaishi which is what we went on to do. BUT after that Sensei had us work on if uke had some more force and you couldn't apply the technique. Then Nage was supposed to go with it and turn it into Kaiten Nage.
In the “teisho” after class he used the example of an apple to say that the same thing means something different depending on your view. To a hungry man the apple is food but to an artist (I guess the artist had already eaten) it was shape, shades and colors. And Aikido really means you look at any situation as something with many different alternatives so you are not locked into any technique. Aikido is about "Options"
He went on to say something like with aikido two different people can look at the same thing and think completely different things and what he saw might not be what you saw. And at some point he declared something like “Aikido gives you more bubbles”.
He talked about a cartoon where two people are seeing the same thing but you can tell visually that they are thinking in completely different ways. In the business they call them thought balloons, but there is something so charming about calling them Bubbles. Like a refreshing sparking glass of champagne
A teisho is a formal presentation of dharma by a Zen master, usually during a sesshin. A teisho may appear to be a lecture, but the master is not trying to convey concepts or knowledge. Instead, through the teisho the master presents his or her realization.
I missed almost a week of practice for various reasons so I had some trepidation about today's class. But all was well. A small but good class and Sensei was teaching. He asked again about me taking my 2nd kyu test and while I confessed that I had missed some classes lately he didn't seem too concerned. I told him I was struggling with Koshi nage from Kubishime and he offered some suggestions.
Interestingly what he suggested, while not contradictory, to what Shawn showed me, was still completely different. Shawn was full of details about hand movement and foot and hip placement. But Sensei focused on general approach and feeling the point of contact. Later he had some more specific points but overall he emphasized “feeling” that point where uke rests on the right part of your hip.
After class Pawel help me practice and and at some point I seemed ot combine Shawn's obvious point of lowering my body to get under uke's center with Sensei's adjuration to “feel” where uke should be. Strangely as soon as I felt I was getting it right, Sensei saw me and said I should not worry about being low. I think he meant that after I “loaded up” uke I need to straighten one leg to prepare for the throw. I think.
But it is things like that, that make Aikido interesting. There are a thousand variables in most any technique and you have to take the wisdom from whatever source you find and try to fit it to your abilities, body type and personality. You have to find the correct form for you, that somehow stays true to the essence. I think for some gifted individuals it is not that big of a deal. They see what the teacher is saying. Do it, feel it and work on it. But for klutzes like me you have to work against yourself. Undo decades of non aikido movements and relax the mind so you can then “get it”. But “getting it” for me is really hard.
Thinking about it after class, I was again reminded about this video I saw when I prepared to change the tires on my motorcycle. If you search the forums you will find many seasoned cyclists complaining about how hard it is to change the tire of an off road or dual sport motorcycle.
The video was from a professional support person that had to regularly change tires. In his video he said...
If it's difficult you are doing something wrong....If you're struggling with it , it's all technique...there's no trick to it. ….If you are struggling, possibly you need to find a different technique.
An that was today. I felt it when I manged to recognize my technique was off. Changed something and it was better..for me it is always the small victories I savor, as those are the only I can find.
And just to remind myself, here are some links to 2nd Kyu tests on You Tube
Last night I watched HOWL with James Franco as Allen Ginsberg. It may have been the mood I was in or maybe the wine, but I though it was great. While I know a little about that era (OK, I've really only read On The Road by Jack Kerouac) I have never paid much attention to Ginsberg or his famous poem other than recognizing it when parodied by Lisa Simpson.
But after Aikido I stopped by Half Price Books in Richardson (TX) and found a book with a facimile of the original poem that was depicted in the movie I saw. It is really cool and has tons of notes. AND I found what looks to be a good (and long) biography of Ginsberg.
My point is that it the movie gave the feel of what they might have been striving for at at that time. An earnestness, a truthfulness that is usually avoided or denied. Or maybe they were trying so hard to articulate this "truth" because there were not really sure that it was really there at all. Or not, or something completely different. Different but still....
For Carl Solomon
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night......
Today was a small class (too many people away for the July 4th holiday I guess) and fortunately for me there was nobody else asking Shaun's advice before class so I got detailed instruction on applying Koshi nage. Plus Bibliosk8 brought his camera and tripod and recorded the session. Which I am eagerly waiting to be posted so I can download it and really see what I need to work on.
I remember blogging about koshi nage 4 or 5 years ago and I still don't have it figured out. I seem to manage one type but any variation and it is hit or miss whether I am really doing it right. I THINK I made real progress today when I finally felt how low I needed to go but still for one technique there are a million things that can go wrong.
I bet for somebody who “feels it”, they wouldn't understand what the problem is. But that is one of the things about Aikido. When you feel a technique it is obvious, and why would anybody do it differently since it wouldn't work? BUT, until you internalize it all those instructions are just a thousand little details you try to juggle in your head while you move your body. The thing is, usually you can fake it, especially with an agreeable uke that knows what the outcome is supposed to be. But with Koshi nage you can seriously hurt your back if you try to force it when you really aren't in quite the right position.
Anyway. There are a few koshi nage techniques on the 2nd kyu test so it was great to get some specialize attention. And Shaun is great at trying to figure out what you are don't wrong rather than just saying how to do it right.
Also, props to Biblisosk8 (Bob) for stepping up to the plate and teaching the kid's class. Once I knew Mark was there for support I bolted.