Thursday, December 22, 2005

Yudansha night

Sensei had all the yudansha teach, tonight. It's fun to see the different takes on things. We get a taste of the differences (and similarities) when we work with each of them on one or two techniques a night. When they get to teach the whole class, however, we get a more comprehensive view. T.G. sensei started us off with the shomenuchi taisabaki series. K.M. sensei showed us some blending kokyunage things (I still shy away from the koshinage, though, and I was pooped about then). Sensei lead us through jo tsuki suburi (T. loved that! She really likes the weapons.) and ended with munetsuki jodori.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Fancy Footwork

T. and I arrived late for warm-ups. After just a little time we were doing suwariwaza (techniques done when both uke and nage start from seiza) shomenuchi ikkyo. Next, we worked on some swoopy (technical term) ryotetori and munetsuki attacks. Proper footwork was very important for these techniques to work. We ended with more suwariwaza and kokyudosa. I only ran out of steam once or twice.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Three New Rokkyus

Sensei awarded all three of Tuesday's testers the rank of rokkyu! He complimented each one on doing a good job.

Then he turned the class over to K.W. sensei for the evening. He emphasized the circle in two very different ways. First, nage encloses uke in a circle and, second, nage attaches uke to the peripheral of a circle. In both cases nage is in control of the circle.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Woo Hoo!

T. tested tonight along with her cadre, L.U. and K.R.. The rest of our family came to watch the test and meet all the neat people T. and I get to play with every week.

We started the evening with techniques starting from ushirodori: kokyunage, shihonage, and others. Then we did the testing. L.U. went first then T. then K.R. Sensei had to laugh when T. charged up to be uke for L.U. though she really should have waited to be called. I got to be T.'s first uke and she had a lot of fun slamming me down with kotegaeshi, kokyunage and iriminage. On the last throw she knocked my glasses off! All three of them did very well. All that pretest work really paid off.

Afterward, a lot of us went to sushi to celebrate.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mini Test Prep

T. and I got together with the rest of T.'s "test-sisters", T.M. sensei and M.K. at T.D.'s house. T.M. sensei ran them through the test process like we did last weekend. They did well.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Swinging the Bokken

T. and I got up in time (almost!) to get to the rec. center this morning to practice with the bokken. Our friend, E.P. came to watch. A.O. sensei warmed us up with lots of suburi then we worked on a paired bokken kata. The sun was warm for December and there wasn't much breeze so we got a little warm. Nevertheless, fun was had by all.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Munetsuki Variations

We ran through a bunch of techniques from munetsuki (pronounced "mu-net-ski"), some of them pretty tricky. No pre-test, tonight. We did have two guests with us. Both T. and I felt pretty good afterward.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pretesting Begins!

We're definitely getting into gear for the three upcoming tests. We did a lot of work on katatori nikkyo, tonight, including some oyo waza (applied/advanced technique) variations that took some puzzling out for those of us still in the kihon waza (basic technique) end of things. One had us shifting from the entrance of nikkyo by slipping under uke's arm directly into an ikkyo nage. The other started the same but, with a slight but careful switch of the hands, shifted into sumi otoshi. It is very interesting to not only be exposed to but practice some of these advanced variations. Being able to practice them engages my mind, surprises my body with unexpected variations of the familiar moves, and hints at the depth of the art involved. Good stuff!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Monday class

T. and I went to T.M.'s Monday class tonight. It was small. We had a visitor from NC and he brought a new perspective. That's always fun. We did some kokyudosa, sudori and randori practice.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Afternoon brush-up

T. and I took our nearly-new-and-unused mat over to T.D.'s house this afternoon. B.N. helped those who are about to test (T., L.U., K.R.) work on the basics of the test as well as the techniques. M.L. and B.A. ran interference with T.D.'s delightful son. It went very well.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Early in the Morning!

T. actually got up in time to almost make it to the dojo on time! Saturday mornings are smaller classes than the usual Tuesday and Thursday classes so we have a lot more room to work so that's always fun.

M.K. sensei warmed us up then took us through some ukemi practice. We rolled (mai ukemi) over one of our fellow students. I haven't done that one since I worked with D.K. sensei about twenty years ago! I still drop to my knee on the left-side roll. I almost made it on my right side. I didn't hurt anyone, though - I worked off to the side. My shoulder-fear is still inhibiting me. Dang!

After that we broke down the iriminage, kokyunage, and kotegaeshi throws designed to help the people who are testing soon. I found it very instructive, too, since, as I wrote in the last post, I've been falling back on some of my twenty-plus year old style techniques and I need to update them.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Test Prep and Sushi!

T. and I had lots more energy tonight. I don't think either of us pooped out the whole evening. Chalk it up to healthier living. As she has the last couple classes, T. joined the others getting ready for testing before class started. I like to see her take initiative.

M.L. succeeded in his sankyu test on Tuesday.

While teaching shomenuchi iriminage, Sensei showed the "old" way of doing the first entry (think of the shomenuchi ikkyo undo aikitaiso). That's the way I've been doing it all along! I didn't realize that I hadn't been following Sensei's lesson. Toyoda shihan's method (the "new" way) is definitely more dynamic and involves more just plain old getting-out-of-the-way which, when properly done, leaves you in the right spot for a lot more choice in technique. Nevertheless, Sensei taught that the old way is a good basic technique.

We got to throw M.K. around since it was her birthday. We went out to sushi for M.K.'s birthday and M.L.'s sankyu promotion.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Both T. and I were zapped this evening: We had a whole week off; I ate poorly, today; and T.'s been getting too little sleep.

We got to see M.L.'s sankyu test, though, and he did very well.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Tonight, we worked on basics: taisabaki for katatetori and katatekosadori , katatetori kokyunage, shomenuchi kokyunage, katatekosadori shihonage, yokomenuchi shihonage. We're prepping L., K., and T. for rokkyu testing and M. and S. for sankyu testing in the next few weeks. I was glad to see T. jumping in to work with people before class started to work on technique.

I worked out pretty well and didn't completely poop out. I sat out only once, half-way through one technique.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Early Morning Breakdown

Sensei asked M. to help the T., L., and K. get ready for 6th kyu testing in December and suggested that this morning was a good time to start. T. had some trouble getting up that early - she always does! I dropped her off ten minutes late and parked the car so I was fifteen minutes late. We started doing some aiki taiso after some warming up but were interrupted by the staff person at the rec center who told us that a birthday party had the room reserved. Well, aikido teaches us to be flexible and to "roll with the punches" so we put the mats away and went out on the lawn. Sensei M. reconvened us with some ki testing (a 6th kyu requirement). Then, since we had enough bokkens between us we worked on the bokken kamae and suburi. We ended with bokken kata number 1 which is the bokken version of happo undo.

T. really enjoyed the bokken. She made me work with her for another 20 minutes after we got home.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Lots of Katatetori, tonight!

We are getting L., K., and T. ready for their rokkyu (6th kyu) tests and M. for his sankyu (3rd kyu) test in December. T. did well in her randori practice.

Katatetori shihonage omote, katatetori kokyunage, katatetori iriminage, katatetori sumi otoshi, etc. Lots of good stuff tonight. (You have to look all those up yourselves!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ikkyo and Nikkyo

T. stayed home sick, tonight. I was running on low steam but pushed until I couldn't stand. I had a lot of good and understanding partners. (Of course, I always do in our dojo.)

We did a lot of work on katatori ikkyo and nikkyo, both omote and ura, for the bulk of the class tonight. They're standards on the round of tests that are coming up for some of our newer members. We finished the evening with ryokatatori kokyunage.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Night of the Living Yudansha!

The five yudansha that showed up this evening got to teach for a portion of the class. M., our newest shodan, acquitted herself well - her hakama was being nice and didn't trip her up!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Basics am good!

K. sensei taught tonight. We did some ukemi practice (which I *really* need!). We also stepped through the basics of tenkan blending, setting up for either kote gaeshi or sankyo, depending on how nage chooses to take a hold on uke's wrist.

T. and I both ended up sweat-soaked and tired but in a good way. We got a copy of a DVD of M.'s shodan test last Saturday. T. and I missed seeing it by about half an hour - bummed!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gokyo and Sushi!

We worked with an uncommon attack tonight - gyaku yokomenuchi. From this attack we practiced ikkyo omote, tanto dori ikkyo, gokyo and sankyo.

I've never worked with gokyo before though I have seen it. It requires a very quick fall straight down on your front while kicking your legs way out behind you. I bumped my knee a bit trying that move. I had better luck with sankyo.

T. was a little nervous working with the tanto - she was treating it as if it was a real knife.

Afterward a bunch of us went out for sushi to celebrate Sensei's birthday.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pooped again!

T. and I went today though we were both tired. I sat out too much (enough so I didn't hurt myself, though!). We were in the final prep for M.'s shodan (first degree black belt) test this Saturday. We worked on hanmi handachi. We started with the standing version of the technique emphasizing a big first step because in the kneeling version taking a huge step is critical to blending properly and not getting bowled over.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I pooped out again this evening. I still had a good time, though.

We started the evening with shomenuchi iriminage, always a good starting point. T. M. Sensei emphasized the zanshin and ma ai while blending peacefully. A. Sensei picked up there showed how different (and easier/more powerful) the technique was if, while blending with the attack, you keep the uke's wrist in front of your center rather than whipping his hand down behind your hip. It doesn't take pushing, straining, or over-powering uke when done this way. Remarkable!

No T. tonight. Ah, well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sensei's Birthday!

T. and I went to class tonight. We had a good time all around even though I was a bit out of energy - I had to sit through one or two set of techniques. I don't like that. On the other hand, I am starting to lose weight by eating better. Gotta keep that up.

As is our birthday custom, Sensei took throws from everyone - one for each of his 56 years - at the end of class. Actually, during warm-ups he did 56 mae ukemi and 56 ushiro ukemi, too. Man, I hope I can do half that in 9 years. This year we split up my throws across several classes so I could do them all.

We did some interesting techniques from ryotetori including ryotetori tenchinage and several reverse entry shihonage that I've never seen before - and have a hard time reproducing! Actually, the quick-entry shihonage/iriminage combination is quite impressive. Unfortunately, it was about that time when I pooped out so I could only do it a couple times. I also tried in on my turn to throw Sensei for his birthday.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

T. came to class with me, tonight!

She's been doing her rolls very well on our new mat at home. My shoulder is still achey but it mostly does the job.

Tonight we worked on munetsuki (pronouced mu-NET-ski) is a fist punch aimed to land in the upper abdomen to mid-chest area. As usual, there are *lots* of defensive techniques and we did a bunch of them! We had fun.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It's been about a year, now!

Last year, T. convinced me to take her to Aikido. We started about one year ago, just after getting our first second car.

I nearly didn't go, tonight. I've fooled myself into believing that I need to have some carb-laden food in the midafternoon before class to avoid feeling run down during class. Turns out that eating carbs (read: sugar) really makes things worse, instead. This afternoon I... well, had a little sugar binge and the resulting blood-sugar crash nearly put me to sleep. I felt so dragged out that I waffled about going to class at all. By the time I drove home, I'd collected myself well enough to put on my dogi and get to to dojo half an hour late.

I talked with T.D. after class who also almost didn't make it tonight. She suggested SuperFood and I think I'm going to order a round of it to see how it goes.

The mat fits - just barely - in the living room. T. and I did aiki taiso yesterday evening and she did a round of rolling. We figured out how she was coming up on the wrong side in her forward rolls: She starts with her off-foot forward. She switched feet and rolled out right.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Mat Arrived Yesterday...

... but I haven't had it out, yet. We need to make room on our floor first.

Good class. Started with aiki taiso, of course, and some paired stretches. I couldn't do the overhead one because pulling my right arm up over my head hurts. While nikkyo is good the nikkyo pin is *really* painful on my sore shoulder. I found that out this evening, too. P. was very careful of my shoulder, though. We're getting ready to test three people right now, maybe more.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I was tired tonight!

E. is back from N'awlins where he was stationed to help out after Hurricane Katrina. It was good to have him back safe and sound and I bet his family is even happier.

After warming up we started with katatetori shihonage omote and several kokyunage variations from the same kataetori entrance (same-side wrist grab). We went on to nikkyo and ikkyo.

Some day, I'm going to learn how to fold a hakama properly.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My Shoulder's Improving

My shoulder felt much better this evening. It's a little frozen, still when rotating up and back or down and back. I was able to do rolls tonight - well, as well as I ever do!

We worked with yokomenuchi, an open-hand strike to the side of the head. First we moved through the tai sabaki to learn the movement. We moved under/outside of the strike, ending up beside uke behind the striking arm. This leads pretty naturally into iriminage, the entering throw. We also varied this movement to try sokumen iriminage, the upside-the-head-entering-throw™.

Next, we used the same entrance to get to ikkyo, the subject of the previous Tuesday's class. A variation on the ikkyo entry takes you into sankyo that was one of the tough parts of my gokyu test in May.

The sankyo hold on the arm really gives the shoulder a good stretch. I had several good partners this evening who carefully helped me stretch my injured shoulder. We've got good people at the dojo. Lots of good people.

T. sat out this evening's class.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New Session

T. plead exhaustion again. I picked up my new glasses on the way to the dojo. (I now qualify for bifocals but I'll still use my old glasses on the mat.) I was late for the bow-in.

We started a new session at the rec center this week so we went back to some basics. That always works for me.

After stretching, Sensei asked M., who'll be testing for shodan next month, to lead the aiki-taiso finishing up with koho tento undo. We did ki testing and harmonizing practice.

I think my shoulder is pretty much up for rolling but it still feels a little frozen when rotating it up or back. I've got to stretch that out.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Munetsuki Iriminage, Sumi Otoshi, Bokken Dori

It was a warm one tonight! It was still in the mid-80s as I drove home. T. sat this one out for the heat and staying-up-too-late-induced tiredness.

I did some rolling on my left side during warm-up, forward and backward. I gingerly tried a right-side roll but my shoulder still doesn't feel comfortable doing that.

We worked on the 3rd (I think) munetsuki tai sabaki. The basic move is the 1st tai sabaki, a tenkan pivot on the outside of the striking hand. With the 3rd, however, we used an inside step blocking outward and the opposite hand moves to the uke's chin for the iriminage variation. Later, instead of the chin push we did an atemi strike toward the face followed by:

  • a quick tenkan pivot and immediate sumi otoshi - uke continuing in original direction

  • nage's atemi hand runs to the back of uke's neck while the other hand drops uke's fist, tenkan around uke's opposite side dropping uke's head and raising uke's arm into a kaiten nage

  • a *large* step back across in front of uke (technical term: "zig") while holding uke's wrist and forearm followed by a large step behind uke (technical term: "zag") with a strong sumi otoshi

  • Anyway, all these techniques are applicable in bokken dori (when uke attacks with a bokken).

    Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    Ikkyo, ikkyo, ikkyo, ikkyo, ikkyo, ikkyo

    Ikkyo. Basic technique. Easy to get right fairly quickly but hard to get right all the time.

    We started with tai sabaki to get warmed up. Then, we worked on a *lot* of ikkyo variations. My shoulder prevented me from full contact but I was able to do most of the techniques (uke and nage) as long as I didn't have to extend my right arm much higher than my shoulder. I was able to roll on my left side, though, and that was good.

    T. and I felt like wet noodles afterward. Good class!

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    Still not 100% but improving

    T. and I went to Aikido this evening. We warmed up, went through our aiki taiso and rolls. (No rolling for me yet because of my shoulder.) We worked on tenkan and irimi movements then an ushiro version. Since we're helping one of our fellow students prep for a shodan test we worked on hanmi-handachi waza where the standing uke attacks the kneeling nage. We finished with a one-handed kokyu-dosa variation.

    I could do a lot more than I thought I would be able to do. Lifting my right hand higher than my shoulder is still pretty dodgy but definitely improving.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Coming back

    My ukemi always needs work. (I suspect it will always need work!) Thursday two weeks ago (September 8) I came down from a koshinage... well, wrong.

    I put my hand down.

    I should never put my hand down!

    Why? Because I am not nearly strong enough to do a one-handed hand stand. I landed with full weight (300+lb) on my elbow and I felt my right shoulder dislocate. As I lay on the mat, I asked my nage to pull my arm and it popped back into place. That pretty much ended practice for the night. I loaded up on anti-inflammatories for the next day or so and used ice packs. It never swelled up or discolored.

    The following week I was back at practice but out of uniform. I did some of the warm-ups but no ukemi and nothing that would take my right hand behind my back or above my shoulder. (Try it - there isn't much you can do.) Buckling my seatbelt was a challenge for a couple days!

    This week I'm back in dogi but still not taking any rolls. I can do kotegaeshi ukemi as long as it's not very vigorous. All my training partners have been very gentle with me.

    Randori - Seizing Chaos

    Randori is an Aikido exercise that allows it's participants to create harmony amid chaos. It's fun when you keep your head about you but it is very challenging. Randori translates from Japanese as "seizing chaos". This blog, should I manage to keep it up to date, may serve as a diary for my Aikido experience.