Sunday, October 25, 2015

Things Mac taught me

I beat my head against the proverbial wall of judo for a long time until Mac came along.  He was a compassionate encourager and put things in a way that made us feel good about what we were doing. Among the lessons I gleaned from Mac include...
  • Ju and aiki are supposed to be gentle, soft, natural - almost easy.  If they are hard or difficult or painful to you (like they were to me) then you are deliberately trying to do them wrong.  You have to take each piece, one at a time, and figure out how to do it gently, naturally, softly, and easily.  Eventually enough of judo will be ju-ish that the whole thing will fall into place.
  • Mac told me I had a really nice ashiguruma.  That encouragement impressed me and made me work even harder on ashiguruma to try to live up to his estimate of me.  Eventually ashiguruma became one of my tokuiwaza!
  • Mac had a fantastic osotogari-haraiTKashi combo that I have long sought to imitate.
  • Mac also had an amazing oguruma!  He would turn in (in shiai even!) and lazily throw a leg across uke's hips, daring them to hunker down and grab his leg.  Then he would stand there on one leg looking bored until uke tried to figure out the next step.  Problem is, to make the next step (any next step) uke had to rise out of that defensive posture and then Mac would pull the trigger and up-end uke!
  • People joke that Mac was the reason they outlawed Kanibasami in judo - he hammered so many folks with that that they took away his favorite toy to balance things out a bit.
  • Mac was the ultimate go-between between the aloof masters and the flunkies.  Once we were all sleeping on the mat at a clinic and Henry was snoring so badly that noone else could sleep. But none of us were brave enough to go wake Big Bad Henry, so I was reduced to walking around in a stupor.  Mac asked what the matter was and when I told him he just walked directly over to Henry and kicked him awake and said, "Henry, You're snoring, turn over."
  • I made the mistake of asking Mac how to do sukuinage one time, problem was, we were on the porch drinking whiskey at  the time.  Mac said, "Easy!" and grabbed my arm and nudged me into offbalance, then as I rose, he slipped behind me and slapped me on the inner thigh real close to my old kujukies!  I jumped into the air thinking, "This is where my life ends." but he caught me and set me on my feet and said, "Like that!"
  • Mac always emphasized assymetric kuzushi separated by 90 degrees.   He never pushed or pulled on uke with both arms at the same time.  Rather he'd put an impulse on you with one hand and then on the next step he'd put an impulse on you with the other hand but 90 degrees off of the direction of the first kuzushi.  Tick-tock. back and forth until you fell apart enough for him to snatch you out of your root.

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Patrick Parker
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