Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Nonviolent self defense

Here is an interesting photo from the archives at Southern Miss.
It is a "Nonviolent self-defense" technique that was taught in Ohio in the mid 1960's. Who here can remember the standard procedure for protecting against a tornado in public schools? Now, there may be something to be said for this tactic when there is absolutely no other option (i.e. against a tornado), but the inane attitude that underlies the teaching of this as self-defense against people is kinda disturbing to me. How long do you think this woman would be able to steel herself while these two guys pound her?
There are other nonviolent options besides total passivity. Aargh! How about a quick few: don't get in that situation in the first place, run to safety, hide, stay more than arm's length from him, move out of his way, get behind him, shout for help, move with him to limit his damage potential, keep your feet under you, don't stand still...
How about this one: assert the natural law that an attacker does not have the right to kick the hell out of you while you do nothing!

Monday, October 30, 2006


Here's a picture of Kristof trying to throw poor Dr. Wake out the front door of the dojo with hikiotoshi. That belt she is wearing is very sneaky. It's hard to tell if it is a white belt that is so dirty from ten or fifteen years of use that it almost looks brown or if it was once brown and has faded from ten or fifteen years use. The official color is "Sanka" brown but it looks more cafe aulait to me.
After class last Saturday, Amanda allowed my three year old, Knox, to repeatedly throw her HARD with tenkai kotegaeshi. We don't know where Knox came up with that throw. Before that day I would have sworn that he'd not watched me enough to pick up the technique, but he did it both perfectly and consistently on an uke that outweighs him by about four times. I've got some video but I wish I had some pics to post. Anyway, thank you, Amanda, for being such a good sport and nurturing aikido and judo in my kids.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fall 2006 Aiki Buddy Gathering

A very special thanks to everyone who participated in the Fall 2006 Aiki Buddies Gathering at Mokuren dojo in Magnolia, MS. Pictured above are: (front row L to R) Deanna Mckenzie, Mytchieko McKenzie, Amanda Wake, Whit Parker, Rich Minnis, John Kirby. (back row L to R) Chris ? (C1), Andy Sims, Kristof Tomey, Richard McKenzie, Gary Hill, Patrick McKlemurry (P4), Patrick Parker (P1), John Usher, and Patrick Waits (P3).

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Saturday after Rich's sandan demo we all worked on the first two moves in yonkata in the context of moving just as uke crosses ma-ai and really making these two feel like releases - like the techniques of hanasu feel like releases. Usher brought up the point that since we classify yonkata as a release kata we should really be releasing the tension between the partners instead of getting the feeling of storing up potential energy in uke in preparation to really flail him.
We started these releases by evading diagonnally inside and forward right as uke crosses maai. If the evasion is successful then tori is free to run or do whatever but if uke manages to exert enough to get a hold on tori's arm then it constrains tori's motion while putting an awful torqing offbalance on uke. If tori is light on his feet then he is able to actually release back into an effortless otoshi throw. This type of motion makes yonkata #1 and #2 much more consistent with the idea of releasing - particularly with the hanasu #1 and #3 releases and their yonkata counterparts, chudan aigamae and chudan gyaku.
Usher, Kirby, and I also got to play with the third 1/3 of yonkata - the last eleven techniques that we never seem to get to play with. These are all interesting but it is particularly interesting to me how familiar thesetechniques seem after doing release followups for several years. That was part of the purpose of the development of the chains was to bring some ofthese ideas from the higher-level kata back into our release practice and from there back into our randori.
Next weekend is the Fall 2006 Henry clinic at Starkville and we will be working on yonkata. I can hardly wait to see what he gives us to think about and work on.

Jodori tsuki maeotoshi

Saturday afternoon we had an excellent Sandan demonstration with tori Rich Minnis and uke Patrick Waits (P3). Rich is a very fine technician and a great teacher as well as an all-around great guy. his demonstration was very nice indeed. P3 is also a very fine aikidoka who is preparing for his upcoming nidan demonstration by playing the role of uke for Rich. I look forward to seeing P3's demo soon.

Suwari ryotedori sukuinage

Here is another pic of Rich locking P3 in and getting ready to fire him home!

Now stay put, will ya?

Rolling the ball

Saturday morning John Kirby worked with us on a concept called "rolling the ball" This is apparently an exercise of FBI origin that they use for moving through a crowd efficiently. It involves light pushes, blending, and moving with the flux in the crowd. It is a fun exercise that has some interesting aiki implications. From there we worked on techniques that emphasized the pushing nature of aikido as opposed to pulling motions. We played a little bit with the idea of doing hikiotoshi (the "pulling drop") with a pushing body structure, then we explored aikinage (iriminage) with the idea of the hand on the head being both a push and a sensor to let us know when uke is trying to change the equation on us.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Keeping the bubble inflated

Here, Usher has kept uke extended all the way through shihonage and into the lock at the bottom. We worked on this idea of getting and keeping uke's balance as it applies to hanasu #6 & #8. Usher calls this idea "keeping the bubble inflated." I think Mike Swain ought to give me a nice fat check for product placement in this picture! How about it, Mike?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What if...

What if it were acceptable to do yonkata#1 and #2 releasing in a wide circle around uke in a type of tenshin motion? What if we didn't have to clash together in order to get a powerful otoshi that looks like kata?
We used to have big problems with hanasu#1 because we couldn't tell whether uke was going to stiff arm or pull into an otoshi like in yonkata#3. Then I began comparing the feeling of hanasu#1 and hanasu#3. This problem almost never occurs on hanasu#3, but rather a different one. Hanasu #1 feels like tori is in a good place to exert against uke. Hanasu#3 on the other hand, feels like a release. Tori isn't as tempted to exert on #3 as #1. For years I thought it was because something was wrong with my execution of #3. I couldn't get into a strong position in that move - at least not as strong as in #1. Then I realized - what if #3 is how a release is supposed to feel? My students and I retooled our ideas about hanasu#1 and gained significant flow and release at the expense of being able to feel strong.
So, what if yonkata#1 and #2 don't have to exhibit that inward clash and driving otoshi? What if these could feel like releases - just like hanasu#1 and #3?
Check this link for Aiki Development's interesting ideas about these releases. Not exactly what i' talking about, but sorta close.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Owaza with Andy

Click here for details about the Aiki Buddies Gathering this weekend.
In aiki class we got started with the usual - range of motion, ukemi, tegatana, hanasu. Then we focussed in on hanasu#1 motion a little bit with tori doing several repetitions of #1 motion with uke attacking either with the correct or the wrong arm. When uke attacks with the wrong arm tori gets a release similar to yonkata#2. We worked this for a while then segued into chain #1 and nijusan - oshitaoshi, shomenate, and shihonage. Class ended with me demonstrating owazajupon several times with Andy as uke. shizumiotoshi (a.k.a. sukuinage) was working GREAT on Andy. He kept getting up and asking in wonderment, "Can you do that again?" Of course I can! ;-) I tried some gurumas on Gary for the feeling of a much larger uke and it was wonderful! Owaza is so cool !!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Click here for details about the Aiki Buddies Gathering at the end of the month.
Today I installed blinds in one more window of the dojo. Three down and three to go. Did some stretching and rolling then ran through owaza in my mind several times with a shadow uke. It's amazing how good I am at aikido when I have perfect ukes! If only all ukes would conform to my motions that well. Oh well.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Owaza Jupon

Perhaps my most favorite set of techniques in the our aikido syllabus is Owaza Jupon - the "Big Ten." Owaza is required for shodan and nidan rank and several of these techniques are variants of things that were previously introduced, but Owaza is different and in several ways, more "aiki" to me.
One way that owaza differs from junana is that owaza is a separating motion kata while junana is primarily an entering and sticking together kata. Owaza is based on that instinct to back away from an attack - so instead of trying to overcome that instinct we learn to work with it. Owaza is also traditionally done with faster attacks from uke and slightly delayed reactions from tori - so owaza is very much an exercise of "what if everything goes wrong."
Owaza introduces several things that are very much characteristic of aikido, though they appear to be mostly missing from earlier kata - guruma motions, iriminage, and sukuinage. Guruma is a motion in which uke is caught on one leg and rotated about a vertical axis. Most of junana is built on extending uke during an otoshi motion to cause a fall like sumiotoshi or kotegaeshi. The addition of the guruma motion in owaza adds a great deal of versatility to the system. Aikinage (iriminage) is one of the three motions that Doshu says are representative of aikido and it appears in two variations as techniques #5 and #9 of owaza. Sukuinage (a.k.a. shizumiotoshi) is also a technique that appears a lot in aiki demonstrations, in which tori ducks and clips uke's legs with his body.
Lately we have been experimenting with entering into owaza techniques off of a yonkata#2 release and/or ryotedori attacks. This is a fun and interesting practice that ties owaza more explicitly to yonkata and hanasu and the rest of the syllabus.

Friday, October 20, 2006

In synch but out of phase

Click here for details about the Aiki Buddies Gathering at the end of the month.
Judo classes have been sparsely attended lately. It is interesting to me how judo and aikido popularity seem to go in waves and appear to be out of phase with each other. Either one class or the other will have lots of students and right now the popular class at Mokuren is aikido.
Today there were no judoka, so I ran through my jodo and short stick with Woodreaux and then installed horizontal blinds in one of the windows of the dojo. I figured they'd just pop right up but they are a pain in the buttocks to install properly. I ended up doing one window out of seven. That should give me a good project between now and the ABG. Tomorrow I think Vincent is bringing one of his electritian buddies to install a motion light outside above the door to the dojo because when we turn the lights off it is as black as the inside of a realy black thing and people keep tripping over the duckboards I put outside the door to keep mud off folks' feet.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ma-ai, ukemi, taisabaki

Click here for details about the Aiki Buddies Gathering at the end of the month.
Yesterday in tegatana we worked specifically on making standard-sized steps. Patrick M. had noticed that his forward turning steps felt different than his backward turning steps and in watching him I noticed that his backward turning steps were much larger than the forward ones. We worked on making standard sized steps and on ending each turning step with the recovering foot in front. This type of awkward different feeling often pops up in tegatana when the pattern changes or when you switch from one group of moves to another (i.e. evasions to pushes).
In hanasu, we worked on making uke smarter in order to refine tori's motion more. Uke's attack must be made from right at maai in one step and uke should move to recover balance and remain a threat to tori. Only in the most basic of special-case exercises is uke motionless. When uke makes these adjustments, tori is forced to move completely offline at maai.
Patrick M. and Kristof worked on their rank demonstration of hanasu and the atemiwaza from nijusan. We will be viewing the demo at Saturday's class for purposes of ranking Kristof to gokyu and Patrick to yonkyu. Then at the ABG at the end of the month we will have them display hanasu and the atemiwaza from nijusan as a demonstration. For purposes of demonstration kata mode, both hanasu and nijusan will be done from 2-tsugiashi distance in which uke's first tsugiashi is an adjustment step to move right up to ma-ai and then his second step is the attack step through ma-ai. Uke's striking arm does not come up and forward until the final attack step.
We played with all these same issues (maai, ukemi, taisabaki) in chain#1 and all students did great.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Needles and lava

Click here for details about the Aiki Buddies Gathering at the end of the month.
Tonight was just Kristof and me for aikido. We ran thru the tegatana and hanasu in kata mode then worked a lot on a #9 chain motion as a lead-in to kote taoshi and gyakugamaeate and gedanate. We ran these at a pretty good pace until I for one was glistening. Then we spun thru the atemiwaza from nijusan, settling on ushiroate. We used ushiro as a good cardio workout and a good ukemi practice. We cooled down from this with some suwari ryotedori kokyudosa (sitting right under the airconditioner.) That's my kind of cool-down!
Vincent and Whit showed up for Judo and while Vincent was dressing out and warming up I introduced Kristof to another concept from his Ukrainian aiki syllabus - a yokomenuchi shihonage done by stepping in to jam the attack by hammering the bicep then guiding the hammered arm into shihonage.
Vincent and Kristof worked on uchikomi while Whit and I worked on kokyudosa. He did great and loved it, but it didn't take but a couple of reps before he insisted on livening it up by visualizing pushing each other over onto razor sharp jagged needles sticking up out of the mat. These needles were marked by a small white piece of paper that we would aim uke toward. Uke would have to fall properly then writhe and gag and hang his tongue out and we got style points for good death throes. Perhaps next time we'll practice throwing bad guys into a pit of boiling lava! After we'd punctured each other through the shoulders and rib cages several times we played a good round of toe-stomp randori while Kristof and Vincent practiced advancing deashi and retreating hip throws moving in a line down the mat.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Clean Embu

Click here for details about the Aiki Buddies Gathering at the end of the month.

This is a video of the current Doshu of aikido, Moriteru Ueshiba. Very clean, impressive embu. Exceptional suwariwaza.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Kuzushi, yonkata#2, and aigamae

Click here for details about the Aiki Buddies Gathering at the end of the month.
At this morning's class we worked on tegatana with a focus on balls of feet then moved into hanasu with 1-2 reps of kata mode. Then we delved into hanasu #1 and #2 with an emphasis on attaining an offbalance down the line of the feet. This brought us into the first theme of the day - kuzushi.
Classical judo theory differentiates eight offbalances (happo no kuzushi) that basically involve leaning or twisting uke in the eight cardinal directions. The problem with this model is it is only valid on a static uke. As soon as uke moves, all the directions change, and smart ukes always move to compensate when pushed or pulled. So we usually talk about two directions of offbalance - parallel to uke's feet and perpendicular to his feet. The opportunity for these two offbalances happens the instant uke steps a foot down.
So, in hanasu #1, we are typically interested in otoshi-type offbalances down the line between uke's feet. As uke steps in to grasp, tori steps to push uke onto that line between his feet. In hanasu #2 we are turning out of uke's way so that he is extended into that same offbalance. In most of the first half of nijusan we are initially stepping offline inside while directing uke's attack onto the offbalance line perpendicular to his feet.
The chain of the day was the #10 chain (as in yonkata #2). We worked on stepping inside with shomenate, and a bunch of stuff that comes off of this when uke tries to grab the shomenate hand to restrict tori's strike. This often ends up being things like tenchinage, tekubikime, or kataotoshi. This chain sheds a lot of light on ryotedori practice as well as pretty much all of the owaza jupon techniques.
For the last few minutes of class, Kristof and Andy worked on nijusan # 2 - aigamaeate, while Clan McKenzie worked more on chain#10. Kristof has an effective omote kuzushi that blends beautifully into a tenkan ura type motion. Andy was also doing excellent with the motion of this technique - I wasn't sure why they especialy wanted to work on this technique today because they both have a great aigamae motion but I didnt mind because aigamae is probably my favorite of the early techniques (uh oh, is that magical thinking creeping in?) and everyone needs more reps with all of these techniques.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Kokyudosa is an exercise done in many aikido classes. So far as I know it is not much done in most Tomikiryu classes but there is a form of kokyudosa that we play with sometimes in our classes – we just don’t usually call it by that name. I have been thinking about kokyudosa lately because it is one of Kristof’s rank requirements when he returns to Ukraine next year so he asked me to work with him on it.
In its basic form the way most aiki classes do the exercise, uke and tori are seated facing in seiza about 2 fists apart. Uke grasps with ryotedori and tori attempts to blend with the grasping attack in order to push uke over sideways. This exercise can range from trivial with a compliant uke, to nearly impossible with an uke that clamps on and adjusts to tori’s attempts. In most aiki classes that do kokyuho, the game progresses from suwari ryotedori to standing attacks, including morotedori and ryotedori. Often kokyudosa looks identical to other techniques like tenchinage, but the emphasis of this game is very much on feeling and blending and not so much on some goal, like busting uke.
We almost never play the suwari variant of the kokyudosa game but we do play with a standing variant as an introduction to hand randori. In our flavor of kokyudosa, partners stand just inside maai and uke grasps lightly with ryotedori. Both partners relax and tori gets one “free move” to unbalance uke. Tori moves anywhere offline and uke feels the offbalance grow until he is forced to take a step to recover. During uke’s recovery and every uke step afterward, tori moves to match uke’s motion and retain the offbalance. At this point uke and tori are hopefully close to perfect synch, meaning that there is little relative motion between their centers of gravity.
This is where this exercise starts looking like kokyudosa. As uke is trying to recover balance he will unconsciously start moving his arms. He can’t really stop from doing this because he can’t keep from applying uneven forces to tori through his arms as he moves. If tori blends with these arm motions then uke will fall prey to numerous things that resemble techniques, like tenchinage.
Once students are comfortable with this form of kokyudosa, hand randori is a natural progression. We simply expand the kokyudosa rules to allow uke to let go of tori’s arms and attack however he wants. We also allow uke to switch roles with tori if he can.

Ballistic ukemi

Yesterday’s class we worked through tegatana and hanasu then moved into an emphasis on ukemi and evasion. We practiced the evasions from tegatana with a partner attacking as in nijusan to get a feel for uke dropping through maai and tori dropping out of the way. We added in a practice knife and continued the drill and all of a sudden things were different – but not. In theory, all that the addition of a knife should change is the initial length of maai, but somehow, the knife changes both uke and tori somehow. Uke seems more aggressive, more dangerous, while tori’s interest in the importance of evasion becomes sharper (pun intended).
Then something occurred to me. On one of the internet fora that I read, there is an ongoing discussion about not underestimating people’s potential. This principle takes many forms, but commonly we talk about not underestimating uke’s potential to be dangerous. It occurred to me that if addition of a knife sharpens tori’s mindset then tori is underestimating the empty handed uke. We can’t assume that the empty handed guy is necessarily less of a threat than the knife-wielding man. So we worked back and forth between knife and no-knife practice trying to bring the sharpness of the knife practice into our empty hand practice.
This led us into some more talk about ukemi. There is a part of the attack that must be ballistic motion. That doesn’t mean crazy or super fast. In fact, ballistic means that uke is not in control of the speed of the attack. If uke starts at ma-ai then his attack step must be a single down-step that is large enough to reach uke’s face/center. During this step, uke is under the influence of gravity. He is literally falling upon his victim. If the attack is slower than falling then uke is stepping/wobbling toward tori with half-hearted intent. The attack cannot really be faster than falling, but it can appear that way, so if it looks faster than falling then uke is telegraphing his intent. All uke has to do to become an ultimate threat to tori is take one ballistic step through maai to touching distance. At this point tori must assume that the empty handed guy has the same potential for mayhem as the knife guy.
This also led us to work on tori’s evasion movement. It too, has to be ballistic. If it is half-hearted or slower than falling then tori is likely crossing the attack line multiple times. If it seems to be a “fast” evasion then tori is likely crouching to spring offline, which will get him hit during the preparation phase.
So, uke must make one falling motion through maai to touching distance with evil intent and tori must make one falling motion off that attack line. Any more from either partner is a less beneficial learning situation for both.
With all that in mind, we worked on aigamaeate, gyakugamaeate, and gedanate from nijusan. Kristof was getting an excellent offbalance and blending well into his tenkan motion. Vincent was punishing me with great offbalances between my feet to the point of busting me before he could practice the moves we were working on. Patrick M. was doing excellent work, emphasizing getting completely offline and moving into the techniques. After working on a #7 chaining motion we played with a randori motion exercise that is equivalent to the kokyu-ho or kokyu-dosa exercises played in some other aiki classes. More on kokyudosa later…

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More uchikomi and smart ukes

Click here for details about the Aiki Buddies Gathering at the end of the month.
Tonight was another uchikomi night with Vincent and I didn't hurl. Perhaps I could get used to doing them. I actually learnt a cool thing - because Vincent makes me do uchikomi on both sides, i got to experiment some with a wrong-sided arm-twisting kosotogari that I don't often practice. I think that particular technique could fit well with some ofthe randori stuff I do. I'll have to see can I work it into my repertoire.
Then we worked on the 1-2-3touch drill, focussing on getting the standing foot turned outward and the hands gripping and curling correctly. This was an entry into deashi, which was our entry into kosotogari for the night.
I got onto Kristof a little bit for wondering off again during ukemi. Uke's role is to make a situation in which the technique can be practiced. If uke lets his mind drift or loses the conection with tori then the technique is not really appropriate. uke has lost his evil intent. When uke retains his evil intent then tori can concentrate on feeling the physical results of that evil. Sometimes people will choreograph "uke does this then tori does this then uke does this then..." but that is bogus. All uke has to do is retain a connection and make himself a threat. Typically this involves trying to regain balance after kuzushi and turning to center on tori. It's hard to threaten tori if uke can't stand up and cant face him.
Aikido and Judo ukes have to be smart ukes. It is dumb and useless to try to learn to defend against dumb ukes. A smart uke makes a smarter tori!

Monday, October 09, 2006

ABG Details

Ok, folks,Time for some additional details about the aiki buddy gathering at the end of the month. The dates are October 27, 28, and if anyone wants to stay and play, the 29th. The location is my house dojo in Magnolia, MS. Aiki buddies should have my address. Plug it into your favorite mapping software the address to get directions. If you don't have my address, call or email me. If you have questions or problems getting there, call me. All the aiki buddies should have a contact number for me, and if you don't then email me.

Let's plan to play on this schedule:

Friday, Oct 27
6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Saturday, October 28

Sunday, October 29

Of course, by concensus we can decide not to play some of these times or change them or do more if y'all want. I'd like to do some jodo for at least a little while before a couple of these sessions. Those doing demos will probably want some of the free mat time between classes to practice, and some of these class times will be reserved for demos. Other than that, the topics are open as far as i'm concerned.

Bring your videocameras and digital cameras so we can put additional pressure on Rich and record his sandan demo for all posterity.

I think the Hattiesburgers are talking about setting up a tent city in the yard. Anyone who wants to can crash on the living room floor or on the mat in the dojo. Usher gets the guest bedroom. I think Mike is considering a hotel in McComb.

We'll probably have some sort of home cooking 1-2 meals and resturants for the other meals. Probably a bonfire after the saturday nite session.

Bring a haloween costume if you want to go trick or treating with Princess Amandala Wake.

Let me know if you need other details or more info or help.

Forward this to any aiki buddies that you know are coming that I left out.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Impact adjustment

Today was Quin's birthday - two years under the belt!
After church and a birthday party at the park and a nap at home we had a Parker ninja army training. Whit practiced striking the pell with men, yoko, do, and tsuke with emphasis on stepping forward through ma-ai to strike, then back outside ma-ai. He had a little trouble keeping his rear foot on the ground, but otherwise did very well. He is easily able to replicate the motion while reciting "men, yoko, do, tsuke." I guess it's not ninja army level yet, but it's pretty remarkable for five years old. Knox also got his turn, mostly banging around with men and do cuts. I love to watch those little guys move around!
The thought provoking sensei question of the day was "When do you do this to real people?" The correct answer for right now, at least is, "Never," but Whit's first answer was, "When we go into the dojo?" When I told him that the answer was "We never do this to people," he asked, "What about when you have lots of bad guys on the loose?" I had to promise to tell him when there were bad guys on the loose so he'd promise to never bust any of his friends with an axehandle menuchi.
But you know, Whit has a point. In this world in which we live sometimes you come across people who need an impact adjustment...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tension-compression and the move that releases

In tegatana we talked about the pause between each step. When we are practicing this kata we always place a pause after each step and when we begin stringing these steps together in rapid succesion the brain retains the perception of a pause after each walking cycle. This allows an opportunity to change your mind or change your motion aftereach walking cycle. In hanasu we did one or two reps of kata mode and the point came up again that there were only three types of releases - walk-arounds, passbys, and walk-unders. Gary said that today he finally got that point and understood the logic in the order of the exercise. As a class we worked on shomenate, aigamaeate, gyakugamaeate, and ushiroate. Then we moved into chain #5 techniques, including the tension-compression oshitaoshi and hikiotoshi. This was a good opportunity to play with Henry's lesson on not releasing then moving but rather releasing with the movement. At this point we split the class with Gary and Kristof working on hanasu and Andy and me working on Nijusan #6-9 (oshitaoshi, udegaeshi, hikiotoshi, and udehineri). The tension-compression idea crops up in this set a lot too.
After a pause for breakfast, Andy and Gary and I worked on jodo kihon 1-4 in both solo and paired practice. Then we worked briefly on seiteikata#1. I saw some sparks of familiarity from Andy, who has seen this stuff a few times, so that's good. We'll keep working on it and we'll get better at more and more of it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Land of a thousand rank tests

It looks like Mokuren will become the land of a thousand aikido rank demos at the ABG the last weekend of this month. We will have a sandan demo, and probably 2 yonkyo and one gokyo rank demo (and perhaps more). The examining board will consist of a rokudan, a godan, and three yondans. Any one of us can individually rank a student to one rank below our current rank, but the aiki buddies tend to like to assemble a promotion board for rank demos whenever possible - particularly for rank demos beyond nidan. It lends credence to the ranking process in the students' minds if nothing else. It is also good to have several rank demos from several different clubs at the same event because it allows a wider perspective of what is mainstream practice and what may diverge from the mainstream.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Rank demo hints

Tonight was a sparse aikido class with only Patrick M. and Kristof. Class started off mostly standard with some focus on forward rolling ukemi, contact points in the pushes of tegatana, some emphasis on #6 and #8 of hanasu, and several reps of the atemiwaza in nijusan. The chain of the night was one of the hanasu#4 chains in which we switch hands to maeotoshi then work into shihonage or tenkai kotegaeshi and from there into aikinage or ushiroate.
Both of the studets are within a couple more classes of having hours for next rank, yonkyu for Patrick M. and gokyu for Kristof. Both already easily have the skill level for their rank and mostly just need to work on their demonstration of kata mode together. Tonight I think the biggest things that I saw needing work were Patrick's evasions in nijusan - needed to be more off the line of attack. Kristof's attacks were a little dead, and I think that probably comes from working with a static uke in his old class, but we worked with that (particularly in the context of shomenate) and saw some improvement.
Everybody who gets to class a few minutes early or has a few minutes to stay after a class needs to grab an uke and get some reps in on their rank requirements. It is particularly important for partners in a rank demo to get in some extra reps in kata mode several times before a rank demo.
I did see some interesting motions in the context of the evasion in nijusan. If tori pushes hard then it is easy to push uke through the offbalance into a recovery. We played some with bsolute minimum force offbalances, which seem to lead to an opportunity for the technique much faster than if tori pushes uke hard. In the event that tori pushes uke through the offbalance, ura always follows the omote offbalance in nijusan. Cool insights.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Uchikomi night

Today I ate supper at 4:30 in the afternoon so I'd have time to digest before Judo. Instead of the normal bunch it was just me and Vincent, a Sri Lankan nidan of Jacque LaGrande's. Vincent wanted to do uchikomis so we did and he wiped me out. I called a halt just before hurling (i didnt but thought i would). Reminds me why I hate uchikomis. After I cooled off for a few minutes we did some aiki randori-esque type wrist grab defenses...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Aiki Buddies Venue

Calling all Aiki Buddies...
The plan for now is to have the Aiki Buddies Gathering at the new Mokuren Dojo in Magnolia the weekend of October 27-28. We should have a total of about 12-20 people, all of whom are welcome to crash in my living room or in the dojo (Usher has dibs on the guest bedroom).
In the past we have easily accomodated classes of 25 people on the same mat space but the old dojo had more room around the edges of the mats. In the new dojo we have the same mat space but the wall is about a foot from the edge of the mat on all four sides. Mike (our karate instructor) has offered us the use of a somewhat larger room at his business about 10 miles north of Mokuren and convenient to the interstate. It won't give us any more mat space, but it will give us more space around the mats. If y'all want to move the venue let me know, otherwise I'll work on the assumption that you guys don't mind being careful and taking turns on the mat at Mokuren.
I'm plotting a bonfire for one of the nights and some trick-or-treating for Dr. Wake (her condition for coming to the ABG). If y'all have preferences for tucker, let me know or I'll plan something like pizza one meal (probably a condition to get Usher here anyway) and Mexican resturant another meal.
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