New Schedule and Location for 2016

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Micro-randori



Aikido is such a broad technical field, ranging from groundwork to multiple opponents to swordwork - and everything in-between, that it is frequently hard to come up with enough class time to get to all of the coolness that we feel like we should be working on.  Something has to be cut from practice so that the domain can be narrowed to something manageable in the time we have.
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In my school, we have separated out the weapons stuff into separate classes to narrow the domain of our aikido classes to just taijutsu, but even with that narrowed domain, we often spend so much time on kihon and kata that we run out of time for randori - or else we get to doing randori and chasing down rabbit holes in randori and we lose something with respect to kata.
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In the past year or so, J.W. Bode Sensei has shown us what seems to be his favorite practice mode, and after playing with it some, it is rapidly becoming our favorite too.  That is, start an encounter with a particular wrist release and work your way into each of the conditions from Junanahon Kata.  So, your techniques have a beginning (Hanasu), and an end (Junana) with some somewhat ambiguous, amorphous movement in the middle, where tori is trying to keep moving and stay safe until he finds the right endpoint for the kata we are working on at the moment.
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Waitaminute!  Ambiguous and amorphous movement!?  That sounds like randori!
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So, our main form (or what is becoming our main form right now) of practicing the foundational kata (junana and owaza) is actually a piece of hanasu glued to a piece of junana/owaza, where the glue in the middle is a little micro-burst of randori!  
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This is reminiscent of Judo's katamenokata, in which tori gets into a holding position, then cinches tight.  Then uke gets a chance to try three (unspecified) escape actions before submitting.  So, really the most interesting part of this kata is the fact that it is actually short bursts of kata and randori interspersed.
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By using micro-randori as the glue that connects hanasu and junana, we are getting more randori-time than it might seem - we're just not getting it all at once in contiguous 20-30 minute blocks of time!
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Photo courtesy of Angel.Medinilla
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Patrick Parker