Friday, October 30, 2009

8 Haloween hints from Mokuren Dojo

Image courtesy of Funky64
Happy Haloween, all you ghouls and goblins! In the spirit of the season, I thought I'd give you eight ways that the martial arts at Mokuren Dojo are perfect for your inner zombie or vampire!

1) Aikidoka avoid all contact - if uke can touch you, they can hurt you (they might even give you the Mummy Rot)! So tori wants to avoid all possible contact with uke. Avoid, evade, do not engage, brush off, roll around them, disengage! This isn't always possible, but it is a vital starting point in aikido.
2) Check yourself regularly for faults - just like lepers were once taught to make regular self checks to make sure they hadn't accidently dropped something, you want to practice slowly and carefully enough that you can go through a self-check to make sure everything is in place and working correctly. Try practicing so slowly that you can do a self-check after every single step. If you don't practice this way, you could end up with shambling, undead techniques!
3) Avoid excessive exertion - for the same reason as #2 above, don't exert yourself so hard that you knock your own arm off! If the techniques in aikido and judo are going to work at all, they will work very gently. When you add force you end up with a poor approximation of the effect you can get with the light, effortless, aiki-like motion.
4) Move slower - whether you are fresh out of the grave (yonkyu) or have been mouldering in a sarcophagus for 3000 years (rokudan), take just an instant longer to make sure you place each footstep correctly. One perfectly placed footstep is better than 3-4 approximate steps.
5) Leave uke hanging - when you get an offbalance and leave uke hanging in unbalance without support, you suck the life energy right out of his attack! All that gripping and clinging and pushing and pulling on uke just gives him a transfusion of vital balance and an opportunity to turn the tables and drive a stake right through your heart.
6) Un-bendable arms - All the hippest creatures are doing it, from Frankenstein's Monster to Ramses the Damned. Try it and you'll be zombified at how much better your transmission of force to uke gets.
7) Disapear and reappear - If you move away in front of uke, he'll track you forever, but if you evade diagonally toward uke as he comes at you, you'll pass right through the narrowest part of his field of vision into his blind spot. The effect is incredibly disorienting and disconcerting for uke.
8) Hide in uke's shadow - in fact, be his shadow. If you get into uke's blind spot behind his shoulder, use your hands as feelers instead of grabbing him, and get the motion of your center in perfect synch with his, he'll know you're there (somewhere) but he won't be able to track or find you.

So, there you have it, As an added bonus, I'll leave y'all with the immortal words of a most beastly wight - the infernally creepy Michael Jackson...

It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking on the mat.

Under hakama, you see a sight that almost stops your motion!
You try to scream but tori takes the sen before you kiai.
You start to freeze and you're extended right into otoshi!

You've been ogoshi'd

'Cause this is aiki, aiki night
And no one's gonna save you from the shomenate strike
You know it's aiki, aiki night
You're fighting for your life inside a aiki, dojo tonight...

Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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