Little House In Ise

The Kids @ The 46th All Japan Aikido Demonstration
May 24, 2008, 23:36
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Family, Japan | Tags: , , , , ,

Two days ago we realized that the kids were expected to participate in the Aikido demonstration at the Budokan. We hadn’t really paid any attention to the leaflet that came from the dojo. We knew the kids weren’t eligible to test so didn’t read further than that. It turns out that we missed a quite a bit… Oops. So, the kids had their debut at the Nippon Budokan today. It turned out well. Ray knew the techniques and just did what was asked. Kokoro didn’t know what was going on so she just did ukemi the whole time. Her partner was confused at first but didn’t seem to mind once she caught on. Here are a few pics.

Ray, front row left, doing Shihonage from yokmenuchi.

Ray at 2008 All Japan Aikido Demonstration

Ray at 2008 All Japan Aikido Demonstration

Ray at 2008 All Japan Aikido Demonstration

Kokoro was on left side of the middle of the little kids mat.

There were other people demonstrating too…

I like this one of Doshu and his son.


A Note on Terminology
May 23, 2008, 20:00
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Japan | Tags: , , , , ,

The technique that I first learned to call jujinage (十字投げ) has long been a source of confusion for me even though the technique itself is pretty straight forward. Uke’s arms are crossed in front of their chest and the lower arm is used as a lever with the other (upper) arm as a fulcrum. The upper arm cuts forward like a sword strike as the two hands are stretched apart. The name comes from the cross formed by the arms which vaguely resembles the kanji character ju (十) and it is from the name that I have been confused.

In an Aikido context, I have also heard what I think of as hijikime nage (肘決め投げ) called jujinage.  I have heard what I think of as jujinage called udegarami (腕絡み) and recently, Doshu called it jujigarami (十字絡み).

This sort of confusion leads to a lot of head scratching on the part of students and teachers in many schools. So, what is right? As usual, my answer is whatever your sensei says is “right”. However, there has to be an element of what you think of as “right” too. In my mind this technique will always be jujinage and when communicating with compatriots from my former schools I will call it that. I still need to be aware that my current teacher calls it something else and I must remember that as well.

The real problem is that most of the things we think of as names are more accurately descriptions. “Crossed arm tangle”, “decided by the elbow”, “wrist return” are the way these things sound in Japanese. Rather than thinking of them as names Japanese instructors described movements or positions and some of these descriptions have been codified as names. Others seem to be more fluid. As an example, ryote tori (両手取り) and morote tori (諸手取り) both basically mean the same thing and some schools use ryoute tori to mean both.

The real take-away from all this is not Doshu says X and Sensei says Y (Waaaa!) but rather that understanding Aikido is not about knowing the name for a thing whether that is a concept or a technique. Knowing the names is important on tests and when chatting with others but real understanding of Aikido is in the body.

Ushiro Waza — 後ろ技
May 16, 2008, 11:18
Filed under: Aikido, Japan | Tags: , ,

After reading item #17 on autrelle’s list of 20 ways to enjoy your Aikido more (it really got me thinking) I have decided to focus my upcoming training on making my worst into my best. My worst is not a specific technique but rather my handling of techniques in general from ushiro ryou te dori (後ろ両手取り : both hands grabbed from behind).

Ushiro waza have been a weakness of mine. It stems from the period earlier in my Aikido career in which “martial integrity” was my most important criteria for judging techniques and principles. I could never really justify the way the ushiro techniques were practiced. So, I neglected them. Also, like the surgeons in the Far Side cartoon standing around a patient saying “I didn’t study spleens”, ushiro waza haven’t been emphasized in some of the dojo where I’ve trained.

So, with all that in mind, I was delighted to see that Doshu was focusing on ushiro ryote tori this morning. Since I am still sidelined I had to sit and watch. There was a pair of young men of similar height and build and of excellent technical proficiency upon whom I focused. Both were extremely clean in their movements and it was easy to see that one was concentrating on keeping his elbows in until some moment, clear only to him, when he could extend and unbalance the other. The other fellow was all about continuous fluid motion. Up and out, down and around, he was a wonderful example of movement and flow. I made mental notes of things I wanted to try the next time I get an opportunity. That will have to do for now…

What is you weakest technique or area? How will you improve it?

There is a very fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness.” *
May 9, 2008, 22:25
Filed under: Aikido, Japan, Work | Tags: , , , ,

I try not to proselytize about Aikido. Really, if my first thought is, “Wow, that person should try Aikido” I try to morph it into, “maybe they should try bujutsu” or even more generically “a little exercise would probably help their xxxx”. I do my best not to let those thoughts out lest I sound like a snob and an ass. The fact is though, I often think that people could help their bad backs (or bad whatevers) by making a habit of better posture and doing stretches… A little Aikido perhaps?

Even though I actively try not to sell the gospel of Aikido, it seems that I do talk about it quite a bit — possibly too much. Everyone and their cat knows that I am an Aikidoka. At home, having a pile of wooden training swords and staffs by the door is normal. In the neighborhood, nobody gawks when I pedal up the street in my dogi. At the office, people regularly ask if I am going to practice tonight and laugh when I tell them, “No I trained before work already”. Damn! I must be a boring conversationalist!

Anyway, the office jokes took an extreme turn today when I was attacked by a dude from Sales. The attacker was “BD”, an ex-Bosozoku (motorcycle gang member) and kendo yudansha. All in all, BD is a fun guy who is amongst the most willing to tease me about the silliness of my hobby — usually whilst pretending to swing a golf club. I was chatting with another Sales guy when I noticed a weird motion out of the corner of my eye. It was BD doing that weird Kendo gallop and swinging shomen at the left side of my head. I quickly but, I hope, casually, stuck my fist out to where his face would be if his course completed. My timing was on and as his downward swing started to accelerate, his head started snapping back out of the way of my fist. Before reaching his target BD was already stumbling backwards. We all got a good laugh out of that.

It’s the closest thing to Aikido that I’ve done in two weeks now. My recovery from appendix surgery is going well though I’ve another two weeks before I’m allowed to train. Just watching practice is frustrating!

* Dave Barry

Appendix A Deleted from this Volume
May 2, 2008, 13:40
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Family, Japan | Tags: , ,

I’m in the hospital library firing off a quick post.  Not a particulalry exciting one and rather annoying for me. The local docs (sensei) removed my appendix on Monday evening.  They’ve given me dire warnings about not training for a month.  It can’t be a month!  The Uchi-Deshi dudes are training with broken backs and crap like that!  This was just a useless little sausage casing!  Grrr!

OK, tantrum over.  I will be patient and report from the sidelines.  This may mean more pictures for folks who are interested in what Honbu looks like on the inside.

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