Monday, January 31, 2011

Out of Action

I haven’t posted for awhile due to my busy schedule, but mostly because I haven’t been able to do anything since I’ve been back from the Big City.  While I was there my Doctor swung through and while we were hanging out I showed him some problems I’d been experiencing.  Primarily my right leg seemed to be week in a couple of spots.  I was unable to do a calf raise on my right leg and this caused him some concern which, in turn, caused me some concern. 

I got back into town last week and the doc did a repeat of the evaluation and I hadn’t gotten worse, but neither was I better.  His first thought was to get me to a MRI a.s.a.p, but with a few exercises I noticed a small amount of progress.  So we are hold for the MRI, but Beatings has been put on the side line until I can do more physically.  This is especially frustrating as I’d hoped to go to class and do a modified workout, but the doctor wants to hold off.  I was wondering what I can accomplish, but I’m afraid to go backwards.  So I think I’ll watch class and see how everyone is doing and eat bitter. 

Diagnosis – injured disk.  Pressure on sciatic nerve lead to calve and foot weakness; pain in areas of range of mobility.

Treatment – traction and specific exercise to increase fluidity of nerve channel around hip joint. 

Prognosis – ?  I guess we wait and see.  In the mean I’m a half a man (I can kick on one side with no problem, but barely on the other). 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Aikido 5

My last night. I was extremely tired and really was thinking about going to bed early, but I needed to get motivated and get to the dojo if for no other reason than to pay for my classes.

In that vein I called Greyhound to see if he was going to the Gojo Ryu class just see if he could motivate me to go to two different classes in one night. He had a presentation so I was right out.

I drug myself out and got there early to watch the kids class which is an entertainment in itself. There was youngster who insisted that she was not sucking her thumb all the while plopping her thumb in her mouth whenever sensei turned his head. He knew it was going on making the few onlookers teeter with stifled giggling.

Sensei seemed to be speaking louder so I had an easier time understanding what was being said and it also meant that I didn’t have to lean over, struggling to understand what he was saying. I was under the impression that leaning over the kneeling line was frowned upon, but I couldn't hear anything if I didn't. Sensei is a very quiet spoken, 6th degree black belt who imparts lessons concisely. As one of the Nidans told me, “his gift is that he knows what to tell you and when to do it.” I was the recipient of this over and over. Just a simple correction of the placement of the arm or correction of center and I was instantly better.

That evening’s class placed an emphasis on taking Uke’s balance via a very minute correction from myself (as the Nage). I really had a hard time believing it, but it was immediately shown to me that it was valid. I was partnered with a 5 foot, 60 year old woman (in Hakima’s – I should have known) whom which I had both hands around her forearm. Through settled her stance and moving a finger she had me moving into a throw position. I think she was literally only half my weight. Unfortunately, I left bruises on her arm. That made me feel uncomfortable.

I mentioned before that the degree of theatricality that seems to accompany Uke’s intended fall makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m not totally over it even on a good day, but getting thrown by a little old lady certainly did lend credence that there discomfort in some positions. If I'm going all in on a hold I'm going to pay a price.

I partnered with a rather bulky guy and my height seemed to put him into a relatively difficult position to which he’d have to dance to get around me. When he’d grunt or make some other noise I’d immediately back off and give him space which would disrupt the exercise and really throw things off. He said, “dude, if it’s really hurting me I’ll roll out – just go through the whole move.” I’ll try. I’ll try.

Finally I get partnered with a guy that’s fully 6’ 5” and about 300 pounds. He was by far the most dramatic of the bunch, but at least he would talk a bit. In retrospect I think that’s what I found so frustrating. The absolute minimum of chatter at all times. I realize that is what is expected, but I’m really from a different mid set.

After class I asked the folks if they socialized together (since I felt rather ostracized) and they reported that some did and some didn’t. It depended on age or if they had family. No clear group whereas my class makes pains to be inclusive at the very least during the class.

In the end I realized that the sense of community was very important to me, but the quality of the teaching was excellent. It was definitely better to come the class with no prior knowledge as I keep dissecting instead of absorbing. Probably a better person would have a better experience. I’d go back though just because there seemed to be something more to learn right around the corner.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Aikido 4

After Gojo Ryu I wasn't sure how Aikido was going to feel. Sure enough the first 15 minutes felt alien and I kept losing focus, but we started the examples I felt more engaged. Of course I couldn't stop thinking about how much all the arts borrow from something else and try to refine it to a philosophy.

The Sensei at the school is very good and really focuses on centering on the Uke. This a concept that my school occasionally touches upon, but never in such concise fashion. It's the same with taking balance. They don't say that specifically (at least not to me), but everything in the class is predicated on some aspect of that. I did find myself taking umbrage with a lot of the moves that require the Uke to give themselves so fully to Nage. I know it's for building and such, but to have such drama put into it makes me want to puke. I'm like, "just stand up for god's sake and stop groaning and squirming." Totally not fair to the circumstances, but it was my mindset.

Strangely after all this I just wanted to do some Chi Sao from Wing Chun, but sadly I was never that advanced to do it and my only solace is videos on youtuber.

Gojo Ryu 1

This is week two in the big city and my enthusiasm for Aikido got a short side-step when they cancelled classes for Martin Luther King day. So my friend of many years (who I think participated in my brown belt test) talked me into trying out a free Gojo Ryu class instead.

We showed up early and got to meet our instructor. My buddy showed his normal annoying trait of not asking the correct questions. For instance, "Can we participate in class tonight?" turned into "Hi, I was wondering about Gojo Ryu and stuff." Urgh.

The class was lead in a very traditional Japanese style, but the floor was hardwood and seiza was brutal. Everything about the dojo screamed Okinawa and had all their pedigree out for everyone to see. The backwall was covered with makiwari and forearm weights. The other walls had tons of black and white photos of instructors in Okinawa doing all sorts of exercises with arcane gear.

Me and Greyhound shared the class with four kids and one teenager and got a quick introduction into the class. We got to shout "Oos" a lot and learned a huge amount of Japanese (about 10 words). Mostly stances, strikes and direction. Certainly more than what my class has.

As we went through the stances I got a huge flashback from two aspects of my martial arts history. The first was more recent. Teacher Slim used to have us do Sanchin, which to me was a very specific routine of foot works and strikes. Sure enough Gojo Ryu is all about sanchin! I couldn't help but inwardly giggle as one of the blackbelts corrected my stance.

After doing that we had to learn all the basic stances which really blew my mind. I took Wing Chun in 1981 or 2 and remember a lot of the basic stuffs and here I was a million years later doing the back foot stances and settling into the shallow-chested, rolled back stance from back in the day. Toes in, toes out and then toes back in and knees slightly in. Man, I was tripping hardcore in a martial arts class.

One stance I had never before was "shige" I think. A deep horse stance with the toes pointed out. I was concerned about my knees as always, but this stance was incredibly comfortable to me. What a nice surprise when so much of the stuff we normally do kills me.

When we practiced the strikes I was caught off guard about how little emphasis was put onto form. Our home class is about doing stuff so correctly to avoid bad habits, but I was in a class with kids so maybe that had something to do with it.

All in all a really fun class. A great change, but it told me how much I miss Wing Chun and how much we all study really goes back to China. Weird. I think this means that I've studying long enough now that everything can be seen to have connections. Wild

Friday, January 14, 2011

Aikido 3

Tonight I thought things were starting to come together because were worked on many similar techniques, but stuff where I take some pride really suffered. Specifically my rolls. I'd like to think I'm one of the better rollers in my class, but in Aikido I'm like a drunken elephant. Most of the time I go into the roll to fast and get a resulting boom whereas the seasoned practitioners enter and exit the rolls with nary a sound and always appear to be soft and comfortable.

Something that came up several times was when I was the Nage I would regularly forget to step out of line when the Uke attacked. This led to a lot of bad technique setup. Ironically I would say this was a problem I had at my TSD classes. So it was nice to have that corrected and I hope that it pays off in TSD.

The second portion of that problem was that I needed to be facing Uke with hips parallel, or being centered correctly, as they say it. I tend to enter the technique correctly but then get far beyond instead of blending. A fascinating concept for me since it's not something we do in TSD.

My third significant problem was my tendency to lean. This is something that comes up from time to time in TSD because it throws my balance forward and makes it easy to take advantage of me. No different here. Thankfully everyone is totally cool with pointing it out and I think it made it easier to not do it or, at least, reduce the incidence. I just really have to focus on my "carriage and posture."

A final note for this week. I was going into the class with a bit of a frown because I was expecting a larger experience earlier in the week, but exhaustion and the job were making it tough to enjoy afterwork activity. However, when I walked out I felt reinvigorated about attending and going back again next week. Clearly it's having an impact on things I know I need to correct and I'm getting to learn all kinds of new things.

Aikido 2

I wasn't sure how much I was going to enjoy the class since it was only an hour long, but the structure of the class is that you are to be ready to go when the clocks strikes 8. The Sensei gave us about 5 or so minutes to warm up, but it was enough as he structured the class around non-intense movement in the beginning to get the blood flowing.

After each movement we would sit while he demoed the next part. In this class the exercise was always following by the same thing except performed on the knees. Walking on the knees is call shikko (which I immediately dubbed "sicko), but I think everything combat related on the knees is called suwari (not sure I heard that correctly). By the half hour mark was groaning from the activity. Worried that my tender knees would really be acting up I would occasionally stop to stretch them behind me. It really didn't work, but my partners never indicated that it was a problem.

One of my favorites was an updown. When the person comes in for a double handed grab to the gi (to the shoulders for instance) the nage steps to side, one hand pushes an elbow and the other hand pushes the other elbow down. The Uke bends over and, boom, the Uke gives a slight shove forward and the Uke rolls out. We can definitely use this in TSD. Even though it's predicated on a grab, the grab didn't actually need to occur. Sweet.

At one point we were doing a shihonage. This is a wrist twist that we use in my class so I was somewhat comfortable and didn't think much about that portion since i was trying to learn the footwork and everything else. My partner for the exercise thunked down and said, "apparently you go to a different syle school" with a big smile on his face. I'm not sure what I did differently, but I'm betting he wasn't used to his partner putting that much energy in the wrist lock. This class doesn't put an emphais on that - as far as I could tell.

This class was a great deal more populated. I think around 12 folks all together.

This class was also very quiet. Questions aren't forbidden, but it's either frowned on or something along those lines. I will say that questions weren't really required becuase the instructor was impressive in being everywhere at once and correcting what needed to be worked on. It was still a tough change from our class where it's questions and answers all the time.

Aikido 1

I got into the big city Sunday afternoon and checked in at my hotel after doing the rental car hustle. If you get one off airport property it's half price. But you have to be there by 6pm and, of course, my flight landed at 6! I was able to make it and the hotel turned to be really nice.

So I finished work and ate a hurried dinner and went early to the dojo. Since I've been there before ( 2 years ago)I could join class directly, but they are very traditional and I struggle with the Japanese and timing of the beginning of the class.

However, they all seem fine with my lack of ability and mumbled Japanese (domo origto oh my god mmymmmbbyby).

I wanted to keep my mind on anything that could be used in our class (moves that are not predicated on the Uke grabbing and holding the Nage). The nice thing is that everything in class has a proper name, but I have no paper to write down what the Teacher is saying.

Two hours was a bit tough with a poor night of sleep behind me, but it was a lot of fun. The best part being that their were only two instructors and me. About a half hour in, another fellow joined, but I was loving the attention. One of the blackbelts seemed to be struggling with things, but I think it was his knees. Hard to tell with everyone focusing on their own bodies instead of the guys attacking.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Post Vacay

I went on vacation to the mid-west for two weeks with the wife.  However just before I left my hip starting acting up.  The pain never cleared and I finally went and saw the doctor a few days ago.  Apparently I’ve got a pinched or enflamed sciatic nerve that makes it very difficult to bend over.  I’ve got to go to PT for a bit and stop stretching.  Apparently that was making it worse. 

Work has decided to send me over the big city for some extra work and training.  While I’m there I can attend the Aikido School for two weeks fairly regularly.  Can’t wait.  I had visited a few years ago for two days and loved every bit of it.  This time I’ll remember to wear my white belt and try not to look like a dork trying to remember the ceremonial steps.

Bassai in the park

Holy Cow!  So much time has passed since I've sat down and collected my thoughts for a quick update about my martial practice.  March wa...