ASU - 
  • Started by working on falls; new fall begins by grabbing my own lapel, then flining myself vertically with straight legs - a flying breakfall with minimal forward motion. I need to straighten my legs and commit to falling directly down rather than forward.
  • First exercise was elbow power number two. This time I was emphasizing moving before I was grabbed and using that to establish unbalance.  I'm moving too fast, speeding rather than blending.
  • First technique  - yokomen stroke, step in slightly, keep the weight on the forward foot and turn the hips so that unweighted leg points away from Uke.  Fall back onto the back leg and use that motion to destabilize Uke.  Then step through for shihonage.  Done correctly this is much less motion, much more economical. Mike-san is able to complete the throw with a minimal step through; I fail at this.
  • Second technique - shoulder grab to oshi-taoshi.  Step in and block wrist slightly, then lift elbow and press wrist towards uke to lift him into oshi taoshi.  I did not follow this.


Forms with duifeng, applications of white crane. Mostly I need to work on precision.


Weapons practice: Ken Tai Jo
Need to practice Hasso Barai separately; still too confusing to do as partner work.   Eric made a good comment that the Ken strategy relies on getting inside the jo and seizing the jo - which leads directly to ken tai jo # 5 & 6 (if I have the numbers right). 

Open Hand: Koryu Dai Yon no Kata, sequence B
More precision. 

20131024 ASU   

Mike made a very intersting comment last night. 

We were working an irimi variation of #17 (I don't know the ASU term).  Uke attacks with a center punch. I found it easiest to start in a back stance, and advance very slightly with the forward foot outwards, relying on the shoulder width to evade, parry slightly with the outside hand inwards (maintaining contact for potential control and sensor) and attack the elbow crease.  Mike Sensei pointed out that my goal was to arrive with minimal velocity to kill.  Arrive in a one legged stance with my weight bearing foot just outside uke's weight bearing foot; my other foot free. This only works if I kill all momentum when I arrive.  He added that I should limit the attack on the elbow crease to my torso, leaving my hip action for lowering.   (until that moment, I did not recognize the potential relationship between this and Jimmy Shihan's comment about sharp body drops.)  The resulting shape in my mind (my body isn't carrying out that shape reliably) is very economical.

We also worked on kote mawashi. I had some success with connecting arm to hip; Michele was able to defeat that and Mike suggested that I vibrate the hold. I was successful more often than not, although not 100% of the time. 

We finished with a very economical first control; Uke cross grabs, tori very slightly contracts and rotates the arm over, then drives teh arm down to the knee. I can do this with almost no foot motion. I wish we'd had the chance to go farther with this; I'm not sure I learned the right lesson. 

20131013 Taiji

Greg emphasized the need to committ in press/push, and Dante broke out the C pads to allow us to practice safely.  The big learn for me was that push can be broken down into a sensing/filling action and then a committment/effector action.  Kind of cool.  
Form correction was on sweep lotus and bend bow shoot tiger.   I cheat on the first, but should concentrate on two foot sweeps, one left, then one right.  Bend bow shoot tiger should start with fists at midpoint of body and expand.
Push hands lessons include
  1. draw the opponent's energy down to my feet and discharge into the earth.
  2. Go slow and feel. Invest in loss. Go slower. no slower than that.  Feel rotation, and "catching the line".  This is study, not life or death.

20131012 Aikido
Weapons class generated lots of discussion of hand position and some discussion of hasso gaeshi ushiro tsuki (#16; figure 8 reverse strike).   I've been doing this with my hips; others have done it with their shoulders.  This is one of the places where I think there is a non sliding strike, but that requires a bit of reaching for the tip of the jo - that is generally a bad idea.
  1. Since in this technique, the opponent is behind you, the  reach doesn't expose you to any danger
  2. I tend to cheat a bit by lowering the jo to horizontal and sliding my hand on the jo during the lever to horizontal; this reduces the amount I need to reach. 
  3. iBudokan and takemusu seem to support my approach, but it is a weak support.  Truth is probably in the middle.  
Wednesday night work, plus some Taiji have caused me to question whether I over emphasize hip movement. Something to contemplate.

Open Hand practice centered on review of classic form #4 - for which I was very grateful. I thought I knew these better than I do. I clearly need more review.  Group A is about adjusting distance and engagement. I need to practice those, but I don't completely suck.  Group b, about dealing with resistance... well, I suck.  I'm not happy at all with these. In particular the last, Come around and grab wrist, requires that I practice as though I don' t have a partner.  That's challenging.  I keep adapting my wrist *incorrectly* to my partners. I need to express out and down and back.  More review needed.  I also have trouble with the body drop. Part of this is knee pain, but part of it is that I think I'm supposed to express out and down and I'm not doing that right. Repetition.  Lots of repetation.

I also worked with a junior on pushing and committment. Many juniors have trouble pushing through, and committing.  Tori must finish the technique and continue to push through uke and remain on balance.  For absolute beginners I think it is appropriate for Uke to give way to demonstrate how the technique works.  But this junior (and many others, including myself) must learn to keep moving and apply the whole body to the problem.  One of the solutions is to force tori to keep moving after the throw.  The other is for Tori to be a 'sack of rice"; take an absolutely neutral posture and force tori to _throw_.  This can have unfortunate consequences during the atemi waza <grin>.  But the junior in question managed to drop me two or three times when I was totally uncooperative, which I think is a mark of success.

2013007 Taiji

Finished first third.  Apparently I injured my toe and knee over the weekend, so I was unable to participate in push hands.  Things to remember from forms class.
  • When playing guitar, the hands come to the center of the body and rotate vertically until the foot is aligned.
  • Watch the step distance on parry down.  Must place the foot very slightly wider than is natural to support later movements.
  • Parrydown should involve raising the hand to roughly the ear and shifting the weight to the right foot, then descending hand and foot together.  The right arm should turn over to knuckles up and stick by the hip.  
  • During punch, the hip drives the punch and stops when both hands are in center of the body. This is a very short punch.
  • To begin withdrawal, extend the right hand using the hip, but economically. Don't overextend.  Drop the left hand to protect the open hand during withdrawal.
  • At the end of withdrawal, both palms face inward, then turn over to "express" the push.

20131006 Aikido Centers of New Jersey

I visited this studio for their Sunday AM 0630 to 9:00 class.  Great people, very inviting. Sensei Robert was very good at managing the class, and rotating through and offering corrections, and at encouragement.  I liked that a couple of times he showed the technique in a "low structure" way - with relatively realistic responses from his uke, and then constrained the technique to a more structured, minmalistic way that was better for learning.  

Very different movement style from either Tomiki or ASU. They're much more comfortable with extended, complicated movements, and with henkawaza.  No explicit back stances, but I did find the back stance useful in several places.  There was no overt emphasis on "engagement/connection", but the concept was very definitely embedded in the practice.   On the other hand they use the concept of "expressing" - "expressing forward and backwards" which is one of those concepts that is obvious when you're doing it, but difficult to explain.   I suspect that when I make a more formal examination of fair lady's wrist, I'll find some overlap.

Perhaps the most "gentle" aikido I've practiced. I'd like to go back and work that again.  Working one technique with one of their seniors, I stopped to test whether I had control, and discovered that I absolutely had control, but with much less musculature than is typical in either Tomiki or ASU.  The control was a kote hineri/sankyo, but the movement paused with both partners in a forward, somewhat low stance.  If uke started to move in any direction I would first perceive it instantly (the sankyo acting as a sensor), and I had a number of options to respond to it; I could "control" and direct, or I could follow into a henka waza.

I have to wonder about the androgogic experience. I worked with a couple of white belts on techniques that I perceive as fairly advanced, but they managed to get them within a couple of repetitions.

They also follow the "four techniques and rotate" style of classroom management.  I wasn't initially confident that that provided enough learning time, but I'm growing fond of it.  Sensei Robert had very good classroom management - I never felt idle (which is good in a 3 hour class), and when I worked in a trio, I enjoyed the opportunity to watch someone else do the technique once or twice. 

20131005 Tomiki

Worked the last three techniques of koryu dai yon no kata. These are very knee heavy techniques; they all seem to involve drops that are very stressful on the knee. 
  1. Present left shoulder - when Uke grabs, half step back , take hand, step forward across the body, raise arm over head, turn your back to uke, then drop forward, blocking uke's step with the other hand.
  2. double hand grab, raise above like the 4 coount. shuffle back and drop to the knee.  Make sure hands are above head and behind you - requires leaning backwards.  I can do this on the wrong side (normally drop on left knee - I don't think I can manage that. I can drop on right knee.  Similar to the technique in koryu dai san no kata.  I don't feel comfortable pivoting on my knee on the floor.
  3. Present left shoulder, retreat and intercept uke's grab.    
Then I worked with a new student on #1, #2, and #3 (very brief and unsuccessful foray to #4, but I wish I hadn't tried to show).  Had to work on the notion of "inside" and "outside" and getting off the line.  Had a brief insight about the relationship between getting off the line and the taiji's rotate to teh front motion, but I lost it.   I'm concerned that #3 is overly invested in the strike, which I still find dangerous.  If uke ignores teh strike, or is not moved by the strike, then the technique must be structured to folllow through.

20131002 ASU 

We started with a wrist grab, retreat and a conversion to nikkyo.  One of the keys was to sit back down on the back leg and withdraw slightly, then blend and advance forward into Uke's space.  Reminds me of the release movements and I think of Koryu Dai Ichi.  Difficult for me to escape my front stance and remember to sway backwards, and then attack forwards.  Sensei also made a point I don't fully understand about the finish.  He finishes across his body; his comment to me was that I was trying to cast out, but he is casting directly down to drop uke to the floor quickly (immediately).  I'm not sure whether I ever did that part correctly. 

Second exercise (that I remember; there were, as usual, a few I don't remember) was a defense against shomen uchi.  Take a wider than normal stance, start backfooted and as Uke attacks shift onto your front foot.  The wider stance will shift your head offline enough that Uke will miss. At that point you are front footed but Uke has not changed the line of attack. Lift the back foot to trap uke's front foot, and perform irimi nage.

Third exercise was to remove to 3 paces apart.  Uke attacks with shomenuchi; tori advances the inside shoulder and if necessary reaches out to touch tori's face with the inside hand.  Then shift rapidly to the outside foot and do irimi nage.  Similar to the attacking parry with sword.  

Both of the last two are demonstrations more than fully useful techniques - exercises to help us learn to think about distance and blend and attack.  The difficulty isn't really in doing the exercise, it is in the head-fake needed to cause me to do the exercise right. I need to undermine my own expectations about how an engagement will proceed.

20130930 Taiji 

Taiji beginner's class  -  I need to work on peapod.  I'm failing to bring the hands in line with the spine and failing to achieve the "vertical rotation".  I also don't feel the connection between the hands reaching the end position and the foot reaching the aligned/end position.
Push Hands Class - Go slow and wait for teh right push, rather than the easy push.  In a way this is investing in loss.  I'm willing to accept losing the easy push if I wait for the best push.  


Two beginners, so we worked on the suburi.  Two questions arose
  • Ushiro Tsuki (#3 reverse strike) - should the jo be grasped with the thumb up or down?   The answer is the thumb is up.  I checked a few other sources, all of which confirmed the thumb up position. I also found a Takemusu page  with some static pictures and discussion of the hip motions and committment.  I'm unaware of any martial reason why the thumb up is superior to thumb down.  I'll have to try this a few times to see if I have a different range for striking, or if I'm constrained in followup actions.  
  • Gyaku yokomen ushiro tsuki (#10; reverse strike, rear thrust).  I'd been finishing the reverse strike with my arms in what I call a "crossed" position, and stanford aikido calls the "funky position".  I'd also been finishing with the reverse strike, and we'd dropped that strike from our normal practice.  iBudokan shows it as crossed (although not quite as dramatically as I do).   Saito shows the same action.  All finish with a reverse thrust.

Some feedback from Sempai this weekend on my demonstration techniques

Number 3, (Gut punch to kote gaeshi) I need to ensure that I perform a good solid chop down parry. (Actually I'd like to strike for the pressure point).  I also need to move my control lower on the wrist to make it more effective.  During the turnover, I need to move high above uke's head, and lift the arms (He said I should also use some momentum).

Number 5, (reverse choke to tenkai kote hineri) I need to surge forward and use both hands to pull down on the arm before I reach for the control (spot the theme?  Reaching for control too early).  I should also move my control lower on the wrist.

Number 6, (shihonage) - stay in front of Uke (Omote). Unbalance more effectively by lifting higher. Follow Uke to the ground.

Number 7 (??go away kid you bother me??)  Stay in a horizontal plane. Strike with hips engaged.

Number 8 (?? hog tie??) Turn over with tiger mouth.

20120118: Over the weekend I saw some very nice, heavyweight hakama at  - some even have pockets