Saturday, March 31, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
What was it that was so cool about this story? it is not just a cool adventure story about persistence in the face of danger. It is a story with an intensely spiritual theme about Messner's motivation for climbing. He says in the interview that it is not in the sense of conquering the mountain but the sense of joy in returning from a barren, sterile, hostile place to the normal world. The joy of feeling the first warm air, seeing the first insect and the first green grass. He climbs mountains because it intensifies the joy that he finds when he returns to the normal world.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
For instance, it doesn't necessarily do as much good to get 100 repetitions of shihonage as it does to get 100 slow, careful, thoughtful repetitions of the hipswitch motion that is used in shihonage. If you do 100 reps of shihonage than you have pretty much only gotten better at shihonage, but if you do 100 reps of hipswitch then the improvements apply to shihonage as well as maeotoshi, tenkai kote gaeshi, and a lot of other techniques. For this reason, if you ask the highest-ranking aikido shihans in our organization what they are working on in their own practice they will more than likely tell you Tegatana no kata (the first thing we learn as white belts).
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Ukemi is about consequences. After spending hundreds of practice hours getting tens of thousands of reps of being smashed for mistakes caused by wrong thoughts, you begin to get the idea that “maybe I shouldn’t act that way,” or more specifically, “Maybe I shouldn’t think that way.” Thus, ukemi gives you a vast amount of aposteriori knowledge that wrong thoughts have potentially severe consequences. Ukemi literally knocks the evil out of you one throw at a time.
Monday, March 19, 2007
- The essence of the soft breakfall is skillful coordination of the muscles of the trunk - primarily the abdominals. Skilled ukes are able to contract when appropriate and relax when appropriate.
- Small wheels turn faster than large wheels. Skilled ukes stretch out at the right timesbecause it slows things down and absorbs some energy. When they are ready to turn over they curl up and the energy stored by stretching out is released into a fast roll.
- In forward roll, energy is absorbed in different muscle groups at different times. Watch a skilled uke and try to figure out when during the roll they are extending their trunk and when they are curling it. This is the essence of the thing.
Try this exercise - do several repetitions of forward roll alternating between rolling to standing and sticking the landing. You'll notice that it is easier to keep from slamming your feet when you roll to standing than when you stick. The energy is going somewhere - Where? Hint: the answer does not involve the circular nature of the rolling-to-standing form. Remember what we are talking about in the first place - some ukes are able to stick a landing from a forceful fall SOFTLY.
Keep doing the forward roll alternating between these two forms and pay attention to the state of contraction of your abs. You'll notice that when you roll to standing the abs lock and the energy of the lower body is transferred to the upper body and throws you out of the mat. The abs are like a fulcrum in this action.
So, a major part of the soft breakfall skill is the ability to contract and relax at the right times. Work on it and if you want some good instruction in this skill, drop me a line and hop on down to Mokuren Dojo.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
This led us to alternate between the omote and ura versions of oshitaoshi (ikkyo) with emphasis on how the insde version is more direct but promotes worse situational awareness. We worked for a good long time on oshitaoshi trying to shorten the duration of the power transfer between uke and tori. From here we moved into Nijusan 1-10, which led us to emphasize wakigatame (gokyo), hikitaoshi, and gedanate as three techniques that happen early in an ura path - right as uke rounds the corner on tori.
At the end we played with a part of chain #3 in which we transition between wakigatame and gedanate. This led to a couple of interesting variants of gedanate, which is really any well-trained balance attack against the lower body. The variants included a stepping knee strike against the common peroneal nerve in uke's leg prior to pushing uke off, and a simple but effective step-on-uke's-foot as a balance disturbance prior to pushing uke off.
I agree fully with Mr. Hughes that holding techniques are generally unreliable and unproductive from the point of view of self-defense. You can’t guarantee that holding someone immobile will make them stop trying to hurt you and you can’t even be sure that they won’t break your hold.
Holds are really either an artistic (in the case of aikido) or a sporting (in the case of judo) abstraction of the battlefield skills of joint manipulation and breaking. In order to practice aikido and judo with some degree of safety we have to have this particular abstraction but if you are to call what you do self-defense training then you have to recognize the abstraction as such and understand what it is abstracted from.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
Shizentai is the natural, upright posture used in aikido and judo. The feet are under the hips with slight (but not over-done) separation side-to-side and front-back. Some instructors call this a heel-toe, shoulder-width stance but I think that makes for a little bit too big a stance for shizentai. The stance is generally vertical, with the ears above shoulders above hips above toes. weight is on the balls of the feet (particularly the medial two toes) and is approximately evenly balanced between the feet.
An important thing to work on is to be able to take one conservative step and recover without getting out of shizentai. This one basic step forms the basis of all footwork in aikido. Try this as an exercise - take one step forward (i.e. shomenashi) and stop halfway through the step just as your moving foot hits the ground. Is your front foot under your center or out in front of you? If it is not under your center then you are stepping too far out of shizentai and you are succeptible to getting immobilized in this wide stance at the bottom of your motion. Now, try the motion like this - from shizentai, shift your center in the direction you're going and then put your front foot directly under your center and freeze. This is a more mobile position (closer to shizentai) and it is not possible to get stuck at the bottom of this step. Any force that is put on you at the bottom of this step just shifts your center out of the way again. It's like your center is floating over your feet.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
- If they have enough momentum they may pivot and continue backwards for a step or two in the direction they were going.
- If they are strong and reactive they may stop in their tracks and try to regain their balance.
- If tori hits the offbalance just right uke will sometimes stumble in the direction of uke's push.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Friday, March 02, 2007
Different martial arts seem to specialize to different degrees in these ideas. Karate, for instance is all about kime, while aiki (as I understand it) is more about zanshin - to the point that I'd be willing to say there is almost no kime in aiki. I know Ueshiba said "Aikido decides between life and death in an instant," and this is used to promote the idea of kime in aikido, but I don't really think that dog hunts. Maybe that will be a topic for another post.
Today I want to talk about zanshin. Remaining aware. There are a couple of practices that lead to a greater awareness of your surroundings as you are playing the role of tori.
- proper posture - The aiki posture we use almost exclusively is shizentai (gesundheit!) - the natural, upright posture with feet under hips. Musashi called this "stance of no stance" and talked about remaining "open in all eight directions." I take this to mean that a neutral stance keeps your options open - but it also means that upright posture makes you more alert in all directions. Try this: stand upright and look straight ahead. notice what you can see in your peripheral vision in all directions - up, down, left and right. now, bend over 90 degrees at the waist and look straight down and check how much you can see. upright posture gives you a better field of vision - thus better awareness.
- The ura forms. Tomiki collected seventeen fundamental techniques that occur a lot in randori into a kata and named it (uncreatively) Junana Hon Kata (the 17 fundamental forms). I don't know if it was coincidence (I suspect it wasn't) but almost all the techniques in Junana are omote forms, meaning that tori enters in front of uke and executes the technique from there. For most of these 17 techniques, we also frequently play with the ura forms, meaning tori enters behind uke and stays there while doing the technique. This tends to take the form of entering, turning 180 degrees behind uke, then throwing. A cool side effect of this 180 degree turn is that it allows tori to see what is going on all around him before he commits to busting uke. Zanshin!
Thursday, March 01, 2007
In the year 2000 Mississippi had an estimated population of 2,844,658 which ranked the state 31st in population. For that year the State of Mississippi had a total Crime Index of 4,004.4 reported incidents per 100,000 people. This ranked the state as having the 27th highest total Crime Index. For Violent Crime Mississippi had a reported incident rate of 360.9 per 100,000 people. This ranked the state as having the 27th highest occurrence for Violent Crime among the states. For crimes against Property, the state had a reported incident rate of 3,643.5 per 100,000 people, which ranked as the state 26th highest. Also in the year 2000 Mississippi had 9.0 Murders per 100,000 people, ranking the state as having the 2nd highest rate for Murder. Mississippi’s 33.3 reported Forced Rapes per 100,000 people, ranked the state 23rd highest. For Robbery, per 100,000 people, Mississippi’s rate was 128.2 which ranked the state as having the 21st highest for Robbery. The state also had 317.2 Aggravated Assaults for every 100,000 people, which indexed the state as having the 18th highest position for this crime among the states. For every 100,000 people there were 906.9 Burglaries, which ranks Mississippi as having the 10th highest standing among the states. Larceny - Theft were reported 2,864.8 times per hundred thousand people in Mississippi which standing is the 15th highest among the states. Vehicle Theft occurred 288.0 times per 100,000 people, which fixed the state as having the 32nd highest for vehicle…
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