Showing posts from October, 2009

Quote: Munenori

It is a disease to be possessed by ideas of victory or of technique.
It is also a disease to be possessed by the idea of showing the results of your training.
It is a disease to be determined to attack first or, conversely, to wait for the opponent's move.
It is a disease even to be possessed by the idea of removing all such diseases.
The disease is a state of mind that is rigid and fixed, in whatever situation.
All such diseases stem from your state of mind.
It is important to control the mind.

—From Hei-Ho-Kaden-Sho by Yagyu Tajimanokami Munenori

Dan grade class

I've been far too tired by the end of the week to get up in time for jodo on Friday morning the past couple of weeks. I finally made it in this morning, and discovered that the few folks who have been showing up have decided to do aikido instead. They happened to be a little higher rank in aikido than jodo, so in ended up being a sort of black belt class, which is actually kind of nice once and a while.
When all you have are dan grades, you can get a little more refined in your analyzation of technique, you can explore higher kata, and you can have a little more confidence in your uke's ukemi abilities.
Today, one black belt mentioned how he'd like to look at the latter half of randori no kata, since he typically spends classes working with lower ranks on the first half. We only managed to cover waki gatame, kote hineri and kote gaeshi, but we got a lot of good information out of it. Too much, really, to try and go over here (I don't know that I could remember it all!)

Jiyu waza and Randori

Okay, more terms I didn't know. (How long have I been doing this stuff? And I still don't know these things? I feel like I need to take some sort of GED exam, study a text book day and night and pass a test to catch up).
Jiyu wazaFrom what I understand, this refers to a sort of middle step between kata and randori, which I knew always existed, I just didn't have a name for it. The rolls of uke and tori are agreed upon beforehand, and uke is usually compliant.
Despite being a "freestyle" sort of exercise, I mostly do jiyu waza with some sort of limit, i.e. limited types of attack (only releases, or only shomen ate, etc.), or in some cases, limited to variations of just one technique. It's a wonderful training method that I'd like to do more of, actually.
Randori (Literally: taking/grasping chaos) Whereas kata resides at one end of the spectrum where everything is known (we know who uke is, what the attack will be, which hand, and what the technique will be), r…

French aikido instructor Andre Nocquet

I've been interested lately in the late French aikido instructor Andre Nocquet. An interesting video which features, among other things, some interesting technique against bokken and using a jo.

A clear and empty space

"If you take up this practice, do not agitate your mind; let it be like a mountain. Let your mind be like a clear and empty space and continue to reflect on enlightening Dharma like the moon reflects the sun. Whether others think that you are right or wrong is not your concern. Do not judge or criticize others. Just be at ease and go on mindlessly like a simpleton or a fool; or, be like one who is struck deaf and dumb. Spend your life as if you cannot hear a thing, or like an infant. Then, sooner or later, all the delusion will disappear."
—Excerpt, The Great Matter of Life and Death by Kyong Ho (courtesy of Nick Lowry Sensei)
(I don't pretend to understand these sorts of discourses, but as I read certain things, they strike me, or resonate like the string of a guitar plucked by an unseen hand. Then, I feel the need to share them!)

Fresh batch of new terms

Part of my never-ending budo education comes in the form of terminology. Sometimes it's a word for something I was already aware of, but just didn't have a Japanese name for, and sometimes a new word opens me up to a whole new concept that, upon closer inspection, was already there, but was not something I have ever considered directly. I try to keep a record of them here, as I encounter them, if only for my own benefit and recollection. A few recent discoveries:
Onsoku Foot movements. Unsoku is a series of body movements designed to promote good posture and avoidance skills within the Tomiki system of Aikido. The first section of tegatana no kata is comprised of these sorts of movements.
Hazumi Force created through motion, or the movement of one's center.
Ikioi Classically, any force created through use of muscle, but I've come across many applications where very little muscle is required to cause kazushi, but the hands and/or arms are still acting independently of the cen…

Release #1 variation

One of the many new series of videos posted on the Kaze Uta Budo Kai YouTube page concerns the 8 releases and 5 different approaches to each of them. Although I've been through it before, it's been a while, and I've been looking forward to the review in class.
There's another neat little possibility that I found from the 4th variation of the 1st release. It's the version where you begin by stepping back first, as shown in the video below:

I had found this next video a while ago, and liked much of it except the beginning. Our dojo's approach is much more focused on keeping our centers moving through space (hazumi), so I tried this "back of the hand to the face" idea after an initial back-step (like the first video). The result was very nice, very light, and yet pretty potent.

I love experimenting. I feel like a little mad scientist!

Foot sweep drill videos

Alrighty, here are the videos of me going over the foot sweep drills I've been writing about. Sorry, the volume isn't that great because I'm a long way away from the camera and don't have a mic (it wasn't planned). The link to the original blog post is followed by the corresponding video.
Foot Sweep Drill - Part 1

Foot Sweep Drill - Part 2

Foot Sweep Drill - Part 3

(Someday soon, I'm going to try and film the rest of the series, but I'll probably have to do it myself.)

New videos online from Kaze Uta Budo Kai!

Nick Lowry sensei has begun posting a number of videos through the Kaze Uta Budo Kai on YouTube, and they're wonderful. I can't wait to see more. To my surprise, I also found this section taken during the Shochugeiko over the summer when I went over the ashi waza combination drills I mentioned earlier (starting here). The lovely and talented Matthew Ghata is my uke.

(It's always so strange to see oneself on video, isn't it?)

What's the right answer?

There's something of a saying in our dojo (though it may very well have origins in other schools): Ask any five red-and-white belts (six dan or higher) the same question, and you'll get six different answers.There's a part of many of us, particularly in the beginning, when I think we would prefer one way of doing things, one solution, one method. It's easier, and makes life simple. Especially in the beginning, when we're so overwhelmed by a wave of new information. Aikido was so completely alien for me, and not just the kata, but the very principles upon which those techniques were based: walking on the balls of my feet, stepping same-hand-same-foot, unbendable arm, etc.I imagine it must be confusing then, for a "younger" budoka to ask the same question of several teachers and get different responses. Which one is right? seems to be the first thought, as if there were only one right answer, or even Which one is the way I'm supposed to do it? almost as…

Aikido defense against a jo staff

I've been interested in Stefan Stenudd (6th dan Aikiki, in Sweden) for a while now, and just recently discovered this short video of techniques against a jo staff. There's basically just a handful of ideas, performed as irimi and tenkan, but they're interesting and different from what I know of san kata (I haven't explored go or roku kata yet, and I seem to recall one or both of those had more jo techniques).
I'm not fond of the idea of tori doing things in the beginning while uke just stands there, but I can see how one might keep the movement going based on what I've gathered from other experience. I may play with these when I get a chance.

Becoming truly "engaged"

I've mentioned before the rather disquieting tendency for many I've observed to not carry a technique to it's conclusion, either by resulting in a throw or an arm bar, but I've also noticed a tendency to take a technique just shy of efficacy.
By that I mean, we take uke to the point where his range of motion ends and then stop, rather than take him an inch or so beyond what's comfortable for him. This time, I noticed it with ude gaeshi, the seventh technique of randori no kata.

It's a matter of mere inches. When tori "goes through the motions", the get uke's arm coiled up but their arms are lax, loose, devoid of real purpose. Uke's arm, consequently, is bent but his hand doesn't get very far behind his own head (if at all). He not only still has his posture, he still has sufficient bicep strength to curl down and push tori's elbow away with his free hand while turning and escape.
All it took was taking the slack out of tori's arms, t…


Ah, zazen. Seated meditation, more or less. Having been raised in a fairly typical American/Christian home, my experience with meditation is fairly limited. Not that there's anything inherently "un-Christian" (or certainly "anti-Christian") about meditation, it just isn't discussed or even acknowledged in those circles. It's as if that sort of thing is reserved for the exotic "heathen" nations of the world.
Still, as was pointed out to me, the human body, the human soul gravitates toward stillness. Perhaps that's why so many of us enjoy television? The chance to stop, sit, unmoving, without thinking for a time. But the mind is still cluttered with thoughts and images. I can see the value in true zazen, but at the same time, I'm trepidatious.
Something in me believes that there must be a right way and a wrong way to do it, that it must be this large, complex function whose meaning runs deeper than what I am capable of fathoming. I want in…


The stillness of the Kyokochi Pond at Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple) - Kyoto
It's been a while, hasn't it? Why, I can't say.
At times, I seem full of ideas and thoughts; I'm bursting at the seams and anxious to share it all with someone, anyone (which is the main reason I started a blog in the first place). But then there are times, when I have nothing to say.
Not that I've lost interest in budo, or that I'm sick, or being held hostage in a far-off country with no internet capabilities (although I've succumbed to all but one of those scenarios in the past). Rather, my mind is quiet, still. My eyes are open, as are my ears. My mouth, however, is shut.
This morning, I had a hard time getting out of bed and dragging myself to judo (it's been hard for a couple of weeks actually). When I got to the dojo, two other yudansha were already there and suited up. For some odd reason, I decided not to even put my gi on, but instead just sat on the bench and watched. Toward…

Photos from morning judo

Some photos taken a little while ago by Chris Gilbert's dad, who popped in for a visit. Chris was about to go in for minor surgery that day and wanted to get one last judo session in. So, I obliged him! We tossed each other around for a good 15 minutes non-stop while the camera clicked away.
Unfortunately, Chris up and moved to Texas for another job. Such is life, but he'll really be missed around Windsong Dojo. Great guy and really talented budoka.

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