Friday, February 29, 2008

A rare critisism

Just a note: This entry was deleted. I feel some explanation is in order as I had previously said I wouldn't censor this blog.

Foremost, some people who commented publicly and privately managed to convince me that I may have been a bit too uncompromising in my attitude. Specifically,

Olympic sports are for comparing who is best. Aikido is about self development and becoming your best. Some will naturally be better. Some will find it too easy and leave. It's the journey that is important..and everyone has their own destination in mind. Some tourists just don't fit in, that's all.
I really couldn't argue with that and if my post seemed to contradict this idea, then it's sending the wrong message and not the one I intended.

I want to stress I did not delete the post because I was worried about recriminations or because of any critical comments. I welcome all comments and won't delete any that are critical of me -- especially those that are critical of me. Like a letters to the editor section in a magizine or newspaper, I welcome the views of those who disagree with me.

I thank all of you who expressed your opinions, both positive and negative. We're all on this path together, that's for sure.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


When I arrived for the afternoon class, I knew from the crowd Yamada-sensei must be teaching. Sensei doesn't teach every day, so when he does, people make it. On any day he has a scheduled class, the phone rings off the hook, everyone with just one question, "Is sensei teaching today?"

I don't usually do that, though. I go to the dojo when I can go and am just happy to be able to practice. Maybe I'll get more particular in a decade, who knows? For now, I just show up, though of course, I'm always glad to take sensei's class.

I was mulling around on the mat with Luis before class. Luis is a former 10-year deshi and weekly instructor at the Aikikai. He and I always get along very well. He's a good guy and a very strong aikidoka.

He's so strong, in fact, I tend to not usually seek him out as a partner, even though he's a great teacher. As I was talking to him, I suddenly felt inspired. I'm recovered from my ailments now, right? So I should have all my wind back. Suddenly, I just found myself asking him to "help me out." This will certainly be a test to see if I'm back to normal strength or not. Haha.

We started with kokyuho back stretch and went fairly quickly to suki. From there, we switched over to tanto and did a bunch of less common techniques.

One was based on an odd attack. I kind of cross handed attack to the opposite side. Nage then gets off-line and breaks uke's grip on the tanto with a elbow bend. When sensei did it, the tanto went flying about 15 feet. I only managed a few...

All the while, Luis was pounding me pretty hard, but I was really taking it much better than ever before. Maybe because I'm healthy again, maybe because my ukemi is getting a little better, but I really didn't have too many problems on the mat.

I even tried to mix it up with him and pound him a bit. Haha. Of course, that is still not yet possible. The guy's ukemi is just too good to be pounded by the likes of me. He just flows like water and comes up fresh and clean. Amazing. Someday, I'll get him to at least breathe a little heavy. ;)

I managed to find a photo, above, of sensei with a tanto! Sensei has a fairly new website with his schedule and lots of really great photos. The caption for this one simply says, "During public demonstration, Japan."

Sunday, February 24, 2008


After a few days break to recuperate, I was back on the mat this morning in Sugano-sensei's class.

It was great to see Sugano-sensei. He had been nursing his leg recently. He seems now to be in fine fettle.

Sugano-sensei likes to stress maiai and today he was positively chatty on the subject. We started off with katatedori kokyunage backstretch, and I guess he didn't like that some were doing it staticly (is that a word? ;) He didn't like it that some nage were letting uke grab and set before nake would start to move. This naturally led into the concept of distance and maiai. Sensei mentioned that the idea of maiai is not only the distance between nage and uke but also awareness of one's surroundings.

From there, we changed to yokomenuchi and did a few throws. I guess these would be called kokyu thows also. Nage enters and either completes the throw by extending through the chin; atemi-extending through the chin and then cut to the elbow, or irimi and step through. That last one may be irimi nage omote. But for the others... in aikido, when in doubt, it's kokyu. ;)

We then went to yokomenuchi and nage enters and dives down to sweep one or both legs. This was a great technique to practice, but there really was no room to do it in partners. Strangely enough, we did the above techniques in groups, but switched to partners for this one.

Of course, we ended with irimi nage and kokyuho. That's a rule in Sugano-sensei's classes.

But the best news of the day was my returning health! After only a few days of antibiotic, I felt like my old self again on the mat. Admittedly, do to the crowding, it wasn't a heavy workout, but I could tell the difference. No more gasping for breath and needing water after 2o or 30 minutes. I felt quite steady during the entire class. I only hope this stays that way...

The photo above is Sugano-sensei and me at Yamada-sensei's birthday party last week. I guess the photographer didn't check and notice he had his eyes closed. On well, anyway, it's the only photo of the two of us I have at the moment.

Friday, February 22, 2008

An explination

I haven't been feeling well the past few days and I finally decided to go to the doctor. I never go to the doctor, so that really tells you something.

Well, it turns out, that not only do I have an "upper respiratory tract infection," which is a cold, but I have some kind of bronchitics. "But I'm not really even coughing!" I said. Doesn't matter, that's the diagnosis. It's possible to walk around with it and not know it.

Something suddenly starts to dawn on me. "Hey, doc, could I have had this for the past 6 weeks or so?" It's possible, why? "Well, I do this marital art and suddenly this year I haven't had the stamina and energy I used to have and I haven't been able to figure it out. I get out of breath more easily and need to stop and get water much more then I ever did before." It sounds very likely, he says.

Well, as bad as I felt, I wanted to jump up and dance around the room. Finally, an explanation! All this time I've been practicing with an infection in my lungs. Wow. I had no idea.

I've been trying not to dwell on it in this blog, but I have really been confused and unhappy about my performance on the mat lately. I had all these theories as to what may be happening. I never imagined there was such a mundane answer. At least, I hope this is the answer.

So I'm on an antibiotic. If this was really the problem, I should be back to normal in a week!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I managed to catch Yamada-sensei's class. It's interesting, the longer I practice aikido, the more I appreciate what he is doing. His aikido is really amazingly clear.

We concentrated on ryotedori. We started with that tenkan-and-raise -hands-and-go-over-uke's-head-and- cut-for-a-back-stretch thing. I wonder if it has a name. Of course, tenchinage, kokyunage and a few others.

During kokyunage, I was in a group with Noriko. She is a very, very strong aikidoka with textbook perfect technique. I always enjoy watching her and I'm grateful of any chance to work with her. I try to learn from her movements.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Junya taught class as usual last night. I really am getting into his classes more and more. The structure and flow are very logical.

After warm-ups consisting of front and back rolls, shikko and pushups and knee bends, we started off with tai no henko and kosadori (cross-hand grab) ikkyo. I think we did them forever, or at least 15 minutes each!

Then we moved on to kotagaeshi. We did this in groups. There was a guy I didn't recognize. He seemed very young, but his technique was not bad so I think he was older than he appeared. We also did this absolutely forever, and I got a bit tired at the end of it. I went to get a drink and Junya was with my partner when I returned. He was really laying irimi nage on her.

Then he seemed to finish, so I thought it was time for her and I to get back to it. Not so fast, however. Junya wanted to throw me around a bit, too. His Irimi nage is quite strong, and I was scrambling to keep up with it. After 4 throws, all the rest I soaked up from the water break was gone and I was more tired then when I left the mat. That'll teach me to get water!

It's funny, when I get tired, I kind of drift in and out of the zone. Sometimes my tired aikido is sloppy. Other times, it can actually get better if I struggle to regain my center and relax. When I was getting tired during the kotagaeshi I was able to pretty much keep it together. But in that last irimi nage, I was toast. Oh well, tomorrow's another day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Presidents' Day

Yesterday was Presidents' Day, therefore no classes at the dojo. This brings up a pet peeve of mine.

There are 10 legal public holidays in the Unites States, and the dojo is closed for each one of them. This strikes me as a little silly.

Of course, there is no point in being open on Christmas, Thanksgiving or New Year's Day: People will be eating and drinking. Even July 4, Labor Day and Memorial Day are traditional 3-day weekends. People probably won't go to class. And let's not forget about Easter. But Presidents' Day? Give me a break.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as patriotic as the next guy, but some holidays just don't affect business that much, but dojo business is closed anyway. MLK Day; Veteran's Day; Columbus Day, too? You bet.

We can be open every Saturday and Sunday, but not on these little holidays? I just seems like a wasted opportunity. I don't know, maybe over the years it's become apparent that a good percentage of people don't come on even those minor holidays, but I can't imagine it. I would go. I have to work, anyway.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Back to basics

Probably owing to all the hold-over visitors from the party on Saturday, Yamada-sensei taught the Sunday morning class, one he is not usually scheduled to teach. I had left the party at about 7 p.m. as it seemed to be winding down, but I asked sensei when the party finally broke up. "Oh, about midnight." Wow, I guess I missed some good party hours...

We did lots of katatetori techniques, very standard stuff for a change. :) Some instructors tend to try more complex techniques, but I tend to prefer a more basic workout. Sometimes it's fun to try those so-called advanced things, but I must confess I take a skeptical view of much of it.

Most of those very involved techniques wouldn't occur in a real world situation, and I doubt they would be of any practical use to any but the most advanced practitioner. Even then, a good fighter would probably get out of them. Of course, we practice aikido for many other things besides its practical application "on the street" -- in fact, that is the least of my concerns -- but one has to draw the line somewhere.

Anyway, there is so much to learn about the "simple" techniques to keep me busy for a very long time. I think doing them to a very high level is already "advanced" aikido. There really is no end to the subtlety and quality that can be found, learned or attempted. Why muck that up with silly moves that seem to be an intellectual curiosity?

One thing that tells me I'm on the right track with this is that most the high level aikidoka I know seem to concentrate on the standard aikido canon. For the most part, it's some guys in the level directly below them -- meaning very good, but not yet shihan -- that seem to be fooling with all the advanced things. Yamada-sensei himself always expounds on "the power and the basics." I guess I'm a clear Yamada student, then. :)

Here's a clip of Yamada-sensei from his video, "The power and the Basics" with a very young Donovan Waite as uke:

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Saturday was a very special day at the dojo in celebration of Yamada-sensei's 70th birthday. I was amazed at the number of people who came! It looked like the Christmas seminar.

I drove in to Manhattan, which I try not to do too much these days. It's hard to justify all the tolls and gas when my unlimited metrocard can get me there without additional cost. I was running late, however and decided to try to make it. I don't know if it's because of the building boom in Chelsea, but it's becoming harder and harder to find parking near the dojo. It used to be very easy to find a spot on a weekend morning.

So I was late and didn't make the first class, which Yamada-sensei taught. Bummer. I was really surprised when I walked in. Man, the mat was packed.

The second class, usually taught by Mike Abrams, was taken over by a woman who has her own dojo in Europe. (As I said, people came from all over.) I didn't know anything about her, but I think she has never been a practicing member in New York. Yamada-sensei travels all over in his zone of control, which covers large parts of the globe.

In any case, she certainly had Sensei's style to some degree, but her class was filled with what was to me very unusual techniques. I suppose one could simply call them "advanced." Anyway, I had a nice time partnering with Seung Jung and together we cobbled something together. She was a great partner, actually. She takes her aikido seriously and was a pleasure to practice with.

The party started at about 2:30 and everyone was there. I mean everyone. Other aikidoka, especially instructors and shihan came from all over the world, including Claude Berthiaume, a shihan from Canada who I have only heard about, and many others.

Of course, all of our own regional shihan and other high ranked instructors all showed up as well. It was a great opportunity to talk to all of them outside the confines of a class.

The whole day was really a testament to the kind of man sensei is. When he gave his speech, one could really feel the emotion in the room. I had the sense of witnessing a very special moment. Sensei spent his life dedicated to aikido, and it is remarkable to see how successful he has been. So many all over the world owe so much to him.

Aikido has given me much in so short a time, but when I started, I really didn't know how rich the experience would become.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Into his own

Ugh, I've been going crazy at work and home with silly things. Don't they know I have posting to do?

Mike Jones filled in for Luis last night. His class was good. All based on morotetori. We did all manner of techniques with it: Kokyu, ikkyo, sankyo and a few less standard grabs and even a choke hold. I felt like I was in Eran's class at the end. ;)

I had a pretty green partner, but it was nice to be able to give her a few pointers. I had to smile when I saw how tense her ukemi was. It wasn't so long ago I was exactly like that.

But I'm not home free in the relaxing department yet, either. At one point when Sanji was throwing me, Mike walked by and said to him, "Just use what uke is giving you." I think that translates to "Tom was resisting on that one..." Oh well.

One odd thing, there was no tenkan with these morotetori techniques. It was all coming in straighter with kaiten. Something new to play with. Right now, it doesn't seem as good to me, but that may be just because I'm used to it. Or it may be my budding style. Who knows? No, I'm not nearly experienced enough to have a style yet. ;)

I have to say, Mike is coming into his own like gang-busters. I've known him since he was 3rd kyu or so, and he's always been well beyond his nominal rank, but now he's developing his own way of doing things. I tease him and tell him he has shodan syndrome, but he really is becoming something. I plan to keep my eye on him in the coming years.

At one point, Mike came over and demonstrated for me on my partner. When I took it up again, she said to me, "Oh, he was much stronger." Yeah, no kidding, Honey.

And just for the heck of it, since we mentioned Eran, here he is doing morotetori sankkyo, though not exactly like we did it yesterday:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stay tuned

I took the night off yesterday. I had to finish my taxes. Boy that was fun. It was good to rest my shoulder, actually. I had tweaked it a few days ago. Nothing major, but the rest probably did it some good, too.

I'm ready to get back in action tonight, probably in Luis' class. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I've had some questions about the context of the quote at the top of the page. Here's the full statement:

"The Art of Peace is medicine for a sick world. There is evil and disorder in the world because people have forgotten that all things emanate from one source. Return to that source and leave behind all self-centered thoughts, petty desires, and anger. Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything."
- Excerpted by William McLuskie from The Art of Peace a collection of quotes by Morihei Ueshiba translated by John Stevens.

The idea that " all things emanate from one source" appears to be the crux of the idea. This concept is very familiar in Eastern philosophies. Scholars may quibble, but the idea exists in Shinto, Buddhism and Taoism, for sure.

But what is that source? Simply, the source is you. If the universe if infinite, every point is the center, so your "center" might as well be, too.

It's with that realization that we can "return to that source and leave behind all self-centered thoughts, petty desires, and anger." If one realized he is the source, he must, at the same time realize that everyone and everything else is also the source. So self-centeredness naturally falls away with such a realization. That's why enlightenment is always expressed in compassion.

I admit that when I practice aikido, I'm not usually thinking about how I'm the center of the universe, but maybe I can try just the center of the circle and work out from there. ;)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Between Heaven and Earth

OK, enough sucking at aikido. Back to business.

I had the day off so was able to attend the morning class. :) Steve Pimsler taught. We focused on ryotedori (Two hands holding two hands.) Starting with tenchinage, of course, and then branching out to other, more leading techniques. Tenchinage is translates to "heaven and earth throw" because of the way the hands open up, one up high and the other low to the ground. Like you are reaching for heaven and earth. It's poetic, isn't it?

Speaking of tenchinage, we did it both in the usual, get off line way and also a tai subaki way which I know I've seen before, but never really understood until yesterday. I guess you could call it a more advanced version. It's different, anyway. I liked it. Steve came over and helped me get it.

Whenever Steve points something out, it always seems so clear; and his aikido is so strong, too.

After class, I saw him working with a guy and before I knew it, there was a randori thing happening. Apparently, they do this often after the morning class. If I had known, I'd have joined in, but by the time I realized what they were doing, it was too late. Next time, for sure.

Here's Alberto demonstrating tenchinage in the more traditional way:

Monday, February 11, 2008

Kind of blue

Well, a busy weekend of aikido, but not much to report.

Actually, I'm feeling a little down about my aikido these days. I know I shouldn't and that is the wrong attitude, but all of a sudden, I feel a bit spastic. It seems all bad all the time! Just a mass of tension, and muscle...

I mentioned this to Mike and Andy over breakfast after the morning class this morning and they tried to cheer me up. Both of them seemed to agree one goes through such a phase before he's about to make some kind of leap in progress. I certainly hope they are correct! But for the meantime, I can't see it coming at all.

In a similar vein, on recent blogger said, "You always suck at aikido."

Anyway, we just keep plugging away, all the same. It has to get better eventually, whether it's a sudden flash or a slow, eventual grind.

I still love aikido, even on the days it doesn't love me back...

Friday, February 08, 2008


You can't hide your personality in aikido. Whoever you are, it all shows up on the mat.

I was ruminating on this last night after class as I was partnered with a particularly, shall we say, "headstrong" fellow. He's a nice enough guy, but he's a bit difficult to have a conversation with. Very opinionated on even the weather.

We partnered up last night and it was really difficult. He's stiff and muscles through every technique. I've long past the point where guys like that discourage me, however. I know what I'm trying to do and how I want to go about learning it.

During the first year of my practice, I would get very discouraged by such things. I would think, "Oh, great, my aikido doesn't really work unless the guy cooperates..." But I have since learned that is a very wrong way to look at it.

It isn't really aikido when one is using brute force to execute a technique, even if that works with less experienced uke. A higher level yudansha can reverse such muscling technique in an instant.

No, to perform an aikido technique properly, one has to be relaxed, centered and have the ki flowing well. However, this is very hard to do in the beginning stages. So one's partner should try to follow a properly executed technique. There are two good reasons for this. 1.) It allows nage to really practice properly. 2.) It also allows uke to be more responsive. This, in fact, makes uke more of a threat as he can adapt to changing conditions and keep his balance to a much greater degree. This aspect is often overlooked.

An uke that hunkers down with the attitude, "Go ahead, try and move me now." Is responding to the simulated situation in an incorrect way. Would anyone really ever attack like that? Of course not. He'd get demolished with a strike to the head or something.

Aikido is about handling and redirecting real attacks, not about wining a judo point or anything else. My point being, it is to uke's "benefit" as well as nage's if uke remains responsive and gives a line of attack.

And I realized I shouldn't be discouraged if a "non-compliant" uke "messes up" my technique. Someday, I'll be at a high level and I'll be able to move these guys, without muscling, whether they want me to or not. Until then, I'll appreciate my partner allowing me to practice and doing the same for him.

I am beginning to learn how to handle these guys, too. I don't let them dictate to me how I practice my aikido. Just because they resist, I won't get tense! I am learning to just slow up and relax and let my center get involved. Sometimes it actually works! ;)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Let's go to the hop... or not

Another Alberto class last night. Lots of kokyu, as usual. I think when we are doing the technique Alberto is standing there thinking, OK, that's good, they are moving. What can I do next to get them to move more? Haha.

We change partners every technique, at least. In the last few minutes of class, we change more often. About every minute. Then he'll shout out, "The last one does push ups." That's so Alberto.

Actually, he's a very inspirational figure. I heard he had a serious injury to his back and couldn't walk or move well afterward. I guess he used aikido for his rehabilitation. So, he doesn't let us slack off. :)

One thing I still can't do in his class are the bunny hops. He usually has us do them in the beginning or in the end (or both) of class. I really feel bad sitting them out, but my left knee just can't take them. Even though I can now use it again -- unlike last year when it wouldn't bend -- it still is not as strong as it should be. I have no doubt that 20 bunny hops would do some damage.

He called for 20 at the end of class. I stayed in a kneeling position. I guess he noticed because after the first 15, he said. "Come on, just 5 more, everybody." Of course, I felt that directed at me, whether it was or not. But I don't want to be sidelined off the mat for weeks, which is what happened to me last year.

The 6:45 p.m. class is a young group. In fact, I'm sure it's the youngest average age of any class of the day. It just seems to work out that way for some reason. At 38, I bet I'm the oldest regular attendee. Next time I get a chance to talk to him, I'll have to explain to him about me knee. Anyway, he's a good guy and he never singles me or anyone else out. I try to keep up with the push ups and sit ups, at least!

With all the changes in partners, I got with all four deshi. Mike is back on the mat after dislocating his toe. That guy's ukemi is just becoming amazing. He was taking ukemi for a kokyu throw, and his back rolls were utterly silent. I don't know why that seems more amazing that a silent front roll, but it is, somehow. At one point, I joked with him, "Will you please make some noise?" I have to figure out how he does that.

I also got with Sanji and the two Australian deshi. They just started this week and that can be quite an adjustment. Toward the end of class, poor Luke looked like he'd seen better days. I asked him how many classes he took today? "All of them," he groaned. Which is of course, the correct answer. ;) I don't know if I'll ever be in the kind of shape where I can take 5 classes per day 5 days a week and 2 per day on the weekends. Wow.

Speaking of shape, at least I got through all of Alberto's class, with all the partner changes and stuff, with out having to go get water. It's funny. That class was a lot more active than yesterday's; yet yesterday I could barely get through with a water break. Sometimes I just don't get it.

Anyway, onward and upward!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


We have two new deshi at the dojo. Luke and Tristan are a couple of yudansha from Australia and seem like good guys. They're set to be at the New York Aikikai for the next 3 months. I know Mike Jones, the senior uchi-deshi must be very glad they are here as he is a bit over worked with just him and Sanji to mind the shop.

I partnered with Luke in Dana's class. I have to say I got pretty tired again in class and this is really starting to frustrate me. I feel like I have less wind then ever. It seems especially since I stopped smoking, I just can't last for very long on the mat at all. I had to go out for water at about the 35 minute mark, and that really bugs me as I don't think I was moving all that much.

Last night also saw the return of my favorite sempai, Indra. She was away from the dojo for a few weeks and it was nice to have her back. We got in a group together and at one point she leaned over and said, "Just because you are tired, don't be sloppy. You can slow up, but if you're sloppy, it looks bad." This is of course, very correct and exactly what I needed to hear. These days I'm really trying to work on staying more relaxed and anyone who reminds me of this is doing me a big favor.

In fact, this year I have a mantra for aikido. It is very simply, "Relax and get lower." (Courtesy of Claire Keller.) Claire has pointed out, and I couldn't agree more, that these are the two points that would make a big difference in my aikido. Certainly, the more I can relax, the less energy I'll be waisting, so that's a big plus.

I'm having some success in the get-lower thing as it just takes constant reminding. But relaxing is not so easy. It tends to go away if I'm not thinking about it.

I was talking about relaxation with another sempai and she told me Harvey Konigsberg-sensei (7th dan, shihan) recently said to her that he was now happy with the way he was relaxing his shoulders. That comment is stunning. I mean, wow, that's 40 years.

I remember hearing a quote from Koichi Tohei where he said the most important thing he learned from Ōsensei was how to relax. So this is a recurring theme among those in the know...

If anyone who sees me at the dojo is reading this, next time you see me, please shout out, "Are you relaxin'?" ;)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Silent partner

I was late getting into Chuck's class yesterday and happened to partner with a yudansha I didn't know very well .

There are sometimes special moments in aikido when you can really feel the wave. I like the analogy of the surfer. The surfer has to catch the wave just right to ride it and that's what nage (and also uke) have to do in aikido.

A few times when we were doing yokomenuchi ikkyo and shihonage I really felt caught up in something -- just like riding a wave. It was a great experience and a a great ideal to shoot for.

My partner, Joel, was very strong and very quick. He gave me quite a work out! Yet, he was always in control and never overthrew or pounded me in the least.

Another great thing I noticed, although he was almost completely silent, he was very instructive. When it became his turn, he would stress certain movements from time to time. It didn't take me long to realize he was doing this for my benefit. I started paying attention to what he was doing and my techniques improved. Very cool. An instructive silent partner.

He did resort to a few words, however. At one point, I wasn't getting off the line enough. Probably he showed me that, too, but I didn't get it. So he just said it. (Not the first time I have been told that particular point, actually.)

Later on, when I was really getting exhausted, I was having a hard time getting back up. (He really was taking me through the paces.) Joel said, "Be like the Greek god who gets his energy from the Earth and comes up stronger." My only thought at that moment was
easy for you to say. Now that I've recovered, I did some research (with the help of my Aikido-L pal G.A.Miliaresis) and I've discovered that would be Antaeus. The son of Gaia and Poseidon, he was unbeatable as long as he could maintain his contact with the Earth, where he could get strength from his mother, the Earth goddess. The photo above is of Hercules defeating Antaeus the only way possible, by holding him aloft and crushing him. Hrumf. Well, I'll just have to not let anyone lift me up, that's all.

At about 40 minutes into the class, we mercifully went to groups for some projection throws so I was able to catch my breath a bit. (I was really out of it! Joel kept me moving, non stop.) Standing next to me, my ol' buddy Junya takes a look at me and says, "Come on, we're not even moving." Haha. Even though I was recovering, I was already "over the line" in terms of exhaustion, so after it was my turn to go, I came back to the line again breathing hard. Junya, in his dead-pan way of his, says, "Just don't pass out." OK, got that.

This was a really great class for me, despite the exhaustion. In fact, if I could have a partner like Joel, I'd take the work out, every time.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Dynamic duo

Debbie Crampton subbed for Ruth in the Saturday morning class. That was a fun change. I always like when she teaches. Her technique and explanations are very clear.

We started off with ryotedori, mostly tenchinage and kokyu type stuff. Then we switched to one had grabs (katatedori) and the real fun began.

I found myself in a group with a few sempai, including Junya, John, Mike Abrams and a few others. We did several techniques with an opening tenkan, as well as more kokyu type stuff.

Well, Junya and John seemed to be trying to out do each other with their speed and ferocity. As always, I got the short end of all that, let me tell you. I think guys like to throw me hard because I'm fairly big. They know I can take it and they see it as good exercise or something. Truthfully, I don't really mind, it's much better than if people felt they had to take it easy on me, right? It's a kind of compliment, I hope.

There were a few kokyo throws when those two did the put-the-knee-in-the-way trick. I think during tenchinage, also, they did that. I remember it was not so long ago I was petrified of being thrown that way, so I guess that's a sign of improvement. (Next I have to learn how do do that myself. I'm getting there. Haha.)

I don't often see John, I guess he practices at times I'm not usually at the dojo. I also heard he's in school. These days I'm seeing Junya more often, and that's a very good thing. His aikido is really strong and clean. I love to watch him and learn from him.

I mentioned to me once he spend a few months as an uchi-deshi at hombu (The head Aikikai dojo in Japan) and it shows. His form and etiquette are always perfect.

So I survived the dynamic duo to go back another day! (I guess that makes me the Joker...)