Sunday, March 29, 2009

Aikido body armor?

I've wondered before when did I get old, but it seems like the process is accelerating.

I remember when I started aikido, I noticed the older guys in the dojo had a series of taping, bracing and padding they would go through before any class. I remember thinking at the time, "Boy, if I'm a careful student, that won't happen to me." Of course, this can only be seen now as quaint sentiment.

It all started with some mild repetitive stress in my elbow, ironically, not aikido related (those computers will kill ya), and I applied an elbow brace to combat it. Unfortunately, I think I over used the brace for a few days because suddenly, I developed upper back pain in that arm's shoulder.

Unlike the elbow pain, this was completely debilitating. It felt like someone had inserted a knife in my shoulder blade. Those of you familiar with back pain will know how ever-present it is, but for me it was a new experience.

After a course of acupuncture, tui na, electrical stimulation of the meridians and -- most importantly -- rest, I've managed to subdue the pain, but it was tough going for a while.

I was able to return to the mat on Saturday, and the shoulder held up well, but I immediately tweaked my knee! Just poor footwork on my part. I'll plead the 2-week hiatus took me out of proper form.

So Sunday I found myself dressing for class, I put on a fairly heavy duty knee brace on my left knee, and a lesser on on my right. Elbow pad on one arm and tape for my bruised finger on my other. I suddenly realized I'd become one of the "old guys" I derided early in my aikido career.

The next step is total body armor -- maybe a kind of modern-samurai with a dash of medieval...

Monday, March 09, 2009

Kaiten nage

I haven't hasn't been blogging for a while -- and that's to my detriment.

Blogging helps helps to solidify the concepts learned in the dojo. Giving them some sort of expression, or rather the process of giving them expression, seems to clarify and reinforce the lessons learned.

A lot has happened in the past few months, but I'm at a loss to list them now. Well, I passed my third kyu test. That's an easy one.

As usual, I was nervous and overanxious before the test. I was particularly worried about kaitennage ura (see above video) for some reason. I had prepared, but not as much as I would like and felt a bit overwhelmed. Even so, I decided to go for it and see what would happen.

For the test, I was partnered with a guy from Michael McNally's dojo in Hoboken. I was lucky to get partnered with someone who knew the techniques and ukemi! (The memory of one fellow's test about a year ago kept haunting me. He just didn't know the techniques and Sugano-sensei stopped the test to call him out on it.) I can't remember my partner's name now, but he did well.

One scary moment, though, was when I was thrown during kaitennage. I came within an inch of the table Sugano and Mike Abrams senseis sit at when conducting the test! I just saw it go by out of the corner of my eye. The next day, I ran into Mike. He said some nice things, to which I answered, "Well, the best thing I did was not hit the table!" He said he put his hand over the corner to offer some protection as I went by. Honestly, I hadn't seen it. Just thinking about it makes my temple hurt!

Anyway, getting past that, things seemed to have gone well for everyone. The second and first kyus looked pretty good. Soon-jun, in particular, impressed the Aikipenguin.

After the test, as I do after every test, I swore to myself I'll prepare better next time. Maybe this time I will.

A check of the calender tells me I can test in November if I go over 5 days per week. We'll see if I can make that happen!