Saturday, April 10, 2010

Weeks 7 and 8 : Back from layoff

Whew! That was one long layoff. And not totally my fault. Really. First, there’s the French custom of  a 2-week school vacation about every nine weeks. Second, the dojo building is a municipal gym. When school’s out, the gym’s closed (don’t ask why, this is France). So I was going to have a forced layoff of two weeks, anyway. But there’s more.

Then the weather conspired against me. Turns out this winter was one of the coldest, snowiest and downright disagreeable winters in recent memory. When it wasn’t snowing, an icy north wind was blowing. Most times riding my bike, I felt like a survivor of the Titanic. I was constantly freezing and often wet.

Given the weather and it being flu season, it wasn’t surprising that I got sick. Not a full-blown case of the flu, but enough to knock me off the bike and not even think about going to aikido class.

After a miserable time of cold, aching and nose-blowing, I returned to class about two weeks ago. For one class. That’s all I had in me. Since I’d only been training about six weeks before this layoff, I felt like I was almost back to square one.

The most recent class was better. Training with wooden swords was only just this side of awful for me. When it came time to do the same techniques without the swords, they actually seemed easy. Finally, about a half-hour of techniques from a kneeling position really put my old legs through their paces.

So I’m in the game again. It’s going to take a while before I get back into the swing of things, but I’m happy to be training. This old dog ain't about to quit.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Week 6: Same old, with a twist

Watched Sensei's 4th dan test dress rehearsal at the end of one class this week. Very interesting. As for me, I'm still plugging away toward my first ranking. . .whenever that will be. 


Monday, February 1, 2010

Week 5: Another one-workout week

Missed Friday. Didn't feel like braving the cold on my bike after work. Wednesday went okay. At least my ankles are toughening up. Can kneel for a whole 2 minutes before they start going numb.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week 4: Only one workout

Due to slippery streets and not wanting to fall off my bike into the jaws of oncoming traffic, I made it to Friday's class only. The class went well. No specific problems other than my usual stiffness and clumsiness.  A guy in class even complimented me on a  forward roll: "You came out of that just like a cat!" On the next one, I crashed down like an elephant.  Some cat.

Techniques: Variations of kokyu nage and kaiten nage

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Week 3 : First workout of 2010

Two weeks is a long time between classes for a beginner. Felt I was getting into a good rhythm before the break. Not so this week. Had a harder time with Wednesday's class than before the vacation. Not only was I all arms and legs,  but I was grateful for the short rests while sensei demonstrated the next technique. 

Problem techinquesKatatori menuchi iriminage. And variations. Evade a shoulder grab, lead the attack in a circle, then an about face and the attacker goes flying. Or something like that. Looks doable when it's demonstrated, but my mind went blank when it came time to actually do it. Hope I don't get attacked any time soon. My fumbling technique would  actually help the attacker.

Didn't go to Friday's class. Too much snow, wind and cold--even for an aikidoka.

Monday, December 21, 2009

メリークリスマス . . . Merry Christmas!

The dojo's closed for 2 weeks for the Christmas holidays (the French love vacations!). So I'll be hitting the books and the computer to keep in touch with Aikido. Here's my new toy:

This is great software! You can see the action from many angles, take notes, play it at varying speeds, and more. It's already helped me understand several techniques in the few days I've had it. Fifth kyu,  here I come!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Week 2 : On being a good uke

Since aikido is a defensive art, it's important to have something to defend against in the dojo. Half-hearted attacks don't cut it. No follow-through, no aikido. If someone attacks like a kindergartner on the street, it's easy to avoid. No defense needed.

So in class, uke  (attacker) needs to give tori  (defender)  a committed attack. Not trying to rip his head off, mind you, but more than a feeble push or a girly-man wrist grab. I was gracefully introduced this simple fact during the last class.

Specifically, you have to launch the attack and also "keep in contact" so your momentum will enable tori to complete a technique. This doesn't mean just pushing with an arm, but one's whole body should stay with tori, like in a real attack. I found this is especially important at my beginner's level, where all attack and defense is done more or less in slow motion. If there's no presence, no weight and no follow-up to an attack, tori cannot do aikido. I did not fully realize that my attacks were about as menacing as wet spaghetti.

Rather than being too slack or stiff as a board, staying with tori actually makes the technique both easier and safer.  I was able to take ukemi (forward and backward rolls) better after a  more pro-active attack.

This wasn't something I learned on my own. Sensei and other partners formally showed me how to do this. Firmly. Still don't have it down perfectly, but at least I know in what direction I'm heading,  so to speak.