mogwai_do: (Aikido)
I was the only person to turn up to class today, so I got about an hour of personal tuition. I don't think it went too badly to be honest, or my sensei was being mostly nice. There are techniques I need to practise more because we haven't done them in so long I was blanking on them or generally unsure. My timing for shomenuchi needs work as well. BUT, I usually knew where I went wrong almost as soon as I did it, and there were others I was able to work out. I'm also pleased with my extension/contact, it's just IMO, but I think it's much better than it used to be, which is good because it's something I have consciously tried to improve. Before there always used to be a kind of shuffle at the start of every technique while I tried to find the contact and struggled to extend, now I think, for the most part, the extension is already happening as first contact is made and I'm maintaining the contact much better throughout the technique. So there were things I was pleased with and things I was not pleased with, but mostly I could see where the problem was and how to fix it, it's just a matter of repetition until it sticks properly.

At the end, he warned me that from now on, for the next year, he would be tougher on me, so I wasn't to take it personally or that I'd suddenly become crap. He also said that my aikido was very strong and solid, which is encouraging, and seemed generally positive for the prospect of sandan. Obviously there needs to be more work on a number of things, weapons especially, but there's a year to work on those.

Also, he wanted to know if I fancied a trip to Malta in October as his uke. Since this sounded more comfortable than Russia in February, I said I was quite interested :) Obviously it's going to depend on work to some extent and there are no firm dates or anything yet, but we'll see. A subsidised active holiday thing could be quite nice :)
mogwai_do: (Aikido)
So, my sensei has just been awarded 6th dan by Hombu. This will mean very little to 99% of you, but take it from me this is a good thing.

I have been thinking about my aikido lately. I'm not sure what the difference is or if it's just an artifact of a more positive outlook resulting from the (perhaps misplaced) sense that things at work are finally in the process of being resolved. Regardless, I've felt a bit more confident with it, or confident is the wrong word, but it has felt like it has been going better than it has for a while.

It's also made me conscious of several areas I do need to focus on. Last Monday's class was a bit different, with the weather there were only a few of us (me, M - another black belt, and T) and one is gearing up for his 1st kyu grading (the one below black belt for those that don't know), so it's pretty major. Obviously, we primarily focused on what he needed to do, which is fine, everyone's been there and no-one minds when it's someone else's turn. Anyway, so it wasn't so much of a class as a structured revision and basically after running through a few jo kata for warm-ups - possibly I shouldn't get so confident with those, he made me do the 13-count on my knees - which I did - Ha! He turned it into... not a mock-grading, but no demonstrations, just sensei calling out the techniques as per a grading and each of us taking it in turn as tori - me first as the ranking student.

Some of those techniques we haven't done in *ages*, so I was really pleased I actually remembered some of the trickier ones and without prompting. I did however get hit on the nose moderately hard which highlighted (painfully) one of my known existing weaknesses that I really need to work on. Basically it was an overhead strike and while I was fast enough and in the right place, instead of deflecting it as I should, instead my arm just collapsed and being a big heavy bloke the strike just carried on through. Ow.

So, I need to work on my extension, which is something I've always found difficult and as a female and therefore generally both smaller and weaker than most of the people I practice with, it is something I need to get right to avoid precisely this. It's not just evident here, but also in my breakfalls - part of my problem with them stems from prior injury, so a combination of out of practice and then instinctively trying to protect the injury even though it's better-ish. I think I need to speak to my sensei about it; I know some of the guys have asked for flexibility training recently because well, they don't have much. That seems easier to do on your own, I'm not sure what exercises, etc would help the extension issue, but it is something I need to address and I don't know where/how to start.

I'm also considering taking my weapons home from the dojo once the weather improves, to see if I can get the 50-count kata down - the bit between 33-40 keeps confusing me horribly.
mogwai_do: (don't care)
So, today I was chatting to my colleague and got onto the subject of aikido last night. We were focusing on strikes, the fill-in sensei is a police officer, so he's always interested in this kind of thing. Anyway, I said to my colleague that while it was quite fun it was somewhat disheartening to know that basically as a woman (and a pretty small one at that) I would never have the strength to do much actual damage to a bloke (particularly the two I was practising with who are each 6ft and heavily built). My colleague looked at me very strangely and said 'you're disheartened because you can't damage someone?' Short answer: yes.

Is that so weird? I mean it's not like I plan to go around maiming people or anything, but I'd like to have the option. I know where to aim to incapacitate without causing lasting damage; I know where to aim if I don't mind if the other person dies; but in both cases I have to use far more of my strength to achieve the same result a bloke could well manage almost by accident. Intellectually, I know this, probably every woman does, but to actually give it a shot and not even shift him much (although he was depressingly encouraging about how without the pad in the way he'd definitely feel it) is thoroughly disheartening. Essentially, there's no such thing as a fair fight - as a woman I start with a fundamental disadvantage and I don't see what's wrong with being a bit put-out by that.

So there.
mogwai_do: (Aikido)
So, this evening I taught an aikido class and for the first time didn't either chicken out or feel like an idiot or imposter. I don't as a rule like teaching, I'm often very conscious of the fact that I climbed the ranks quite quickly so there are people who've done aikido for longer than me chronologically speaking, but haven't practised regularly or have had long breaks, so haven't graded. I mean M, who IIRC started practising aikido before I was even born, stopped to have a family and only came back about 5-6 years ago and got his shodan the year after me - he always says I'm better than him, but it's hard to take that seriously.

I kept it simple: some stretches, some basic exercises, then some basic exercises with jo, then the 31 count kata and then some basic techniques. It seemed to go surprisingly well. I mean it was a small class, but still, it felt like a big deal because I didn't stutter or ask for opinions or confirmation, I just took it on and did it. After an hour I handed off teaching to M as we'd agreed at the start when I wasn't sure I could do the whole class (actually by that point I felt I could keep going, but it wouldn't be fair to change my mind then).

It's just as well though as I probably would have ruined any teaching credibility I may have gained when M told the lad I was practising with to focus - the lad chatters *all the time*, I mean I'm bad for talking, but not that bad, and he just doesn't pay attention, drives sensei nuts sometimes. Anyway, M told him to focus and he went all hardcore 'bring it' or tried to. I couldn't help it - I burst out laughing. It was like being menaced by ball of wool. (Wow, I can be an arrogant cow sometimes) His shoulders were tense and a bit hunched, his fingers were sort of half-curled and his kamae was kind of... awkward for want of a better description - kind of scrunched up and uncomfortable looking. I'm probably underestimating his strength, but it looked like even if I stood still and let him punch me, there wouldn't be much strength behind it because it would be all bicep. OTOH, I had no intention of standing still ;)

Still every silver lining has a cloud or something: apparently my tenchinage has gone away and is currently absolutely appalling - it was on Monday and it was tonight. Ah well, something to work on... again.


Feb. 2nd, 2012 10:08 pm
mogwai_do: (Aikido)
So... I finally got my hands on a copy of the video taken at the last Dan grading, where I got my Nidan. It's strange watching it, quite aside from the unexpected sympathetic reaction. I honestly don't remember much of it at all and given there's about 1.5hrs of it, that's quite a lot to forget.

Apparently I do have a tendency to smile/grin at times, but it's nowhere near as often as I was told. I also go really astonishly, picked-up-by-satellite, red. Partly it's a stress reaction, but add to that a lot of vigorous exercise and I look about a breath away from heat exhaustion - which actually probably wasn't too far off at various points in the grading. I know I would have killed for a drink within the first 15 minutes and certainly by the time we hit the hour mark passing out was starting to seem like a really attractive option. No-one else looks anywhere near as bad, the closest is a Spanish (I think) lass and with the darker skin tone it's much harder to tell.

I still go a bit too fast - though that's partially dependent on the uke - but the pacing's not too bad, certainly better than my shodan. I'm not sure how slowly I'd have to do it to avoid overheating the way I seem to though. I feel I need to thank Paul and Jerry again for being fantastically awesome ukes and letting me throw them around for ages - Paul especially as I think I had him for about the last 30-40 minutes.

I didn't fluff any techniques that I could see, despite my uke giving me the wrong attack at one point late on. I did do a non-standard variation at one point and was corrected, but it was still an entirely valid version, just not the version he wanted to see, or rather he wanted to see his preferred version as well. I don't hesitate either which is nice - I'd hesitate now on some of them - benefit of the monstrous amounts of prep I did on the build-up I guess.

Watching the others is interesting too as I didn't have the chance at the time - the lass I remember struggling, definitely did, but she picked up later, IIRC the conversation afterwards it was when she'd decided she'd failed.

I'm definitely pleased with how smooth some of my techniques are - my shihonage particularly is very flowing.

Oh and the kneeling bits towards the end - flashback time - I remember how bloody hard it was to get up and down then - that was about the 45 minute mark and I was totally past it and hadn't got my second, third, fourth, whatever, wind at that point. That seemed to kick in about 10 minutes later, probably that was the point where I had resigned myself to it going on for*ever* and I had a nice run of smooth-ish, varied techniques and Paul is a good uke to chuck around - it actually looks moderately impressive :)

Ooo bit jerky there - sorry Paul - at an hour and 8 I think I'm probably allowed - maybe.

Hmm, I look remarkably unbothered by people coming at me with large pieces of wood - I think at that point I just didn't care if they knocked me out - it meant it would be done. Actually it's kind of funny, I'm just so fucking casual with the jo staff. It's like 'hey, you attacked me, I'll just take this off you, smash you into the ground in the process and hey look who has the big stick now, feel free to get up anytime and try again' :)

Well, that was interesting to see, really not bad all told, I did pass after all so it had to be, but actually I'm pretty satisfied with my performance there. Given the pressure, the temperature, the overcrowded dojo and then the sheer length of the grading it might even be impressive in a modest kind of way.
mogwai_do: (Unnoticeable thing)
I've been quiet of late on many fronts; I'm not sure this will halt the trend, but I feel I should post something. So far all it's been has been a fic I intended to post days ago.

cut for stuff and things )
mogwai_do: (Aikido)
For whatever reason, tonight there was only my sensei, me and the three ex-juniors. Because I felt like something different and he didn't have anything particular in mind for the class, I requested kaishiwaza - which is counter-techniques. They're great fun and kind of ends up like dancing if you do it well. It requires a lot of sensitivity, but first you have to know how to get from whatever to whatever you want to do. So my sensei took the juniors through some basic combinations of techniques. So we paired up which meant, obviously, 2 juniors, and me and a junior. I'm used to there being at least another black belt or two around. And I guess I'm fairly non-threatening in many respects - at least to 16yr old lads ;)

So, me and the eldest of them: I'm not sure whether I was more surprised that he was asking me how to do stuff or the fact that I knew the answers. I think there was actual respect there, which seems a bit odd, but then, this is the same lad who didn't want to hurt me a few weeks ago ;)

Me and the next junior (who looks like a baby Alan Cumming, which I find occasionally disturbing): a little cautious at first, but seemed to relax after a little bit and actually did the best of the three in that he grasped that you needed to relax and go with the flow because if you start forcing it starts to go wrong.

Me and the last junior: I think he'd had an argument with the eldest of the lads earlier, he kept trying to be really strong and aggressive - except his technique was so sloppy it didn't work. I could feel all the strength he was trying to put into it and it just wasn't transmitting into pain. I don't think I was blase about it, but I basically just ignored it, didn't tell him off or correct him, or react with more strength. I felt all Jedi-like - it was cool. I didn't really want to laugh at him, but it was a textbook example of anger not getting you anywhere at all - at least not when it's all Rargh! and unfocused. Focused anger is a whole different ballgame ;) It was funny though, how little it registered or bothered me, it didn't really hurt at all, despite his efforts, and equally I knew I could get out of whatever he was trying.

After class and they'd left my sensei and I chatted; he said he thought the last lad liked inflicting pain - I reckoned he was just angry at a lot of things. I didn't elaborate then, but I think if it were the former, he'd be more interested in precision than exertion. Some of the techniques we were doing are astonishingly painful with very little effort when properly applied, of course they take a long time to learn to apply properly, but there's something hugely satisfying about managing to get the lock on tightly and playing 'dance, my puppet, dance' with a big, strong bloke. And people wonder why I enjoy Aikido so much - mwahahahaha!
mogwai_do: (Aikido)
So, this weekend was an aikido course with the 7th dan shihan who is head of our association. Attendance was really poor, which has left my sensei really demoralised about it, which is not surprising. In fact he's just sent out an email about a dojo meeting to discuss it.

The course added somewhat to my stress of late as the shihan is distinctly hardcore at times and a perfectionist and as wound up as I've been lately, I wasn't sure how I would cope with that. Still I went anyway, I'm not sure it was the wisest decision, but in some ways I'm glad I did.

It was interesting and the shihan seemed to be in one of his better moods. Yesterday we went into detail on some of the underlying principles through a variety of techniques and some bokken work. It wasn't too bad - and at one point the shihan came over and said I was 'training hard and well worth my grade' in context he meant in general not just then. I was really tired afterwards, but not too bad - it was a lot of detail work and about as exhausting mentally as physically. It still took me ages to get to sleep though, despite how tired I was.

This morning my neck/shoulder was rather painful, partly tension as it has been for the last week because of work, and partly using it a lot yesterday. Today the class was split with my sensei teaching for the first half, for which I often took ukemi, and then the shihan taking the second half. By halfway through my neck/shoulder was really painful, but then it subsided somewhat. Now, normally, the shihan uses my sensei as uke (he had the day before), but this time he mostly used me. There was a lot of vigorous breakfalling, including 2 flips. By the end of the class I was absolutely exhausted, my neck/shoulder were distinctly painful and I wanted a shower, food, painkillers and a nap, not necessarily in that order. However, the shihan did tell me that my ukemi was very nice, he might have said beautiful, but by that point I might also have been hallucinating. He also said I needed to work on my continuity of consciousness, which is a thing he often talks about, and basically means knowing *consciously* what your body is doing *all* the time - not in a vague way, but absolutely specifically, it sounds ridiculous and easy, but actually try it - it's really not. It also relates to focus, but honestly by that point I was surprised I managed to keep as focused as I did.

By now I've had all but the nap, I still feel absolutely knackered, but if I try to sleep now I'll wake up about 2 or 3am and that'll just throw me completely out of whack and I've had enough of being thrown today (though I was pleased with one of the flips).

Anyway, despite the exhaustion, aches and pains, etc. I'm glad I did it - for one, because I haven't really pushed myself stamina-wise since Easter because of the injury, so it's nice to know where I stand on that front - but also because compliments - he gives them rarely, and I received several during the course, which is both astonishing and gratifying. His aikido is *amazing* so y'know something to aim for. If you take ukemi from him it can basically be summed up by Suddenly Floor! Intellectually and after errr 7-ish years of practice I can sort of see how he does it, but duplicating it? pfft.
mogwai_do: (Aikido)
So, aikido tonight, could have been better on several fronts - largely because apparently stress creates more of a problem with my neck/shoulders than aikido does. They get battered and stretched if I'm careless in aikido, but when I get stressed they seize solid whatever I do - then it's hard to get them to unlock, even doing aikido, and things are more likely to strain. Anyway, that aside it was otherwise okay.

The highlight though was fairly early in the session. I was trying to explain to the bigger-than-me 16yr old lad who has just graduated to the adult classes from the juniors, that his punches were about a foot too short. He punched again, and again, still short. The sensei noticed and came over and explained to him that if the punches weren't going to connect, then why should I bother doing anything about them. The lad grasped this, but argued his case with 'I don't want to hurt her'.

I have no idea what my expression did, but it was probably edging into something not a million miles from a smile. I know the other black belt nearby was definitely smirking and my sensei was actually kind of grinning. I can't actually remember what my sensei said then, but it was something along the lines of 'try it and see'.

He definitely did try :)

In all fairness to him, he took it well, no sulking, stomping or otherwise being a little tit, that I have encountered with other 16yr old boys and their fragile egos. In fact, he even said he asked for it - as he lay there on the floor. I wasn't too mean, I didn't do it too hard, just faster than I usually go with the recently-ex-juniors. It was a learning experience I think :)


Aug. 30th, 2011 06:05 pm
mogwai_do: (Aikido)
For anyone who's ever wondered what this Aikido of which I speak is...

This is a rather good promo video by the Jiki Shin Kan dojo in the Netherlands - they're the ones with whom I have a standing invitation to train with, some of them come over here every now and again too. I know quite a few of the people in the video, which is always a little strange :)
mogwai_do: (Aikido)
So, aikido tonight - still phenomenally unfit :( On the plus side, I don't think I did anything too dramatic to my shoulder. I did need the session though - had an astonishingly crap day at work due to IT being useless which of course was just what I needed after last Friday's insanity courtesy of my boss being useless...

Anyway, let off a bit of steam even if I was rather crap at the whole thing - which made it more bizarre when I was asking if the Russian Sensei got away alright last week (which he did) and was told he really enjoyed the class he joined and thought I was very good. Slightly boggled as, while I wasn't as bad as I was tonight, I was still really not my pre-injury standard at all.

I really need to get myself back into the swing of things - I've been missing too many classes for various reasons and while I don't think I'm too unfit in general terms, I'm definitely not up to my usual aikido standard. The trick is to build it back up without doing anything to set my shoulder back again. We'll see how it goes.

In other news, I think I need to arrange some sort of fic-writing sabbatical. Lock myself away somewhere for a week with no, or at least very limited, distractions and actually finish some of these WiPs off. When your WiP folder hits treble figures, something has to be done.
mogwai_do: (Aikido)
So... Easter. I don't know about you, but I spent it doing Aikido, which was tiring and also a bit bruising (thank you sports centre turnstile that really helped). And today I did the grading for my second dan, which consisted of about 1hr 20 minutes of being attacked repeatedly in a variety of different ways and with a variety of weapons, pretty much non-stop for the entire time, which is always exciting.

After about the first 15minutes I would have killed for a drink of water; it was a hot day to begin with. After about 30-40 minutes I hit the pass out or throw up dilemma, then I got a sort of second wind (faint breeze maybe?) and by the time we got to the final technique it was - I'm not sure I can actually lift my arms anymore... or get up...

I did pass though :)

All things considered I think I did better than last time around. I still got the massively overheating problem and the pass out/throw up dilemma, but I wasn't as wasted afterwards, exhausted yes, but last time I was practically fugue. Also, during the grading I was better able to pace myself, there's a limit to how much you can do that as it also depends on your uke, but still, I felt more in control of what I was doing rather than just reacting.

Someone videoed the grading (and apparently my first dan as well, 2 years ago) for the association, and he says he'll send me copies of both, he hadn't realised I hadn't seen the first one. As he had seen me do both, he said it was like watching a different person this time around, but wasn't quite able to articulate why, just that I was more together about it all. If he remembers to send them on, it'll be interesting to see as I tend to remember it as a blur of heat and exhaustion, rather than any details of what I did. Also it'll give me a chance to see what the others were doing (there were 6 others grading at the same time as me, they all passed too) as I was a little preoccupied at the time ;)

Anyway, now I am going to bed because I am *knackered*
mogwai_do: (Unnoticeable thing)
honest. My complete failure at early nights notwithstanding.

cut for aikido stuff )

And now I really, really am going to bed. Really...