New Kenshusei

Another year has begun here in Japan, with the coming  of the Sakura flowers and 4 new Kenshusei.

They have already been going for a week and still holding strong, so that is good to see.

They are pushing hard, and there is already some improvements to see, but we all got a long way to go.

Please wish them good luck and ganbatte.

Have a safe journey

Progress report nr. 23

I can’t believe it’s over, when I woke up this morning I was almost sure there was something wrong. But now the course is over for this time, and we are all looking forward to a little rest before it starts up again. I’ve chosen not to call this post ‘the last’ or ‘the end’, because this is only the beginning or a continuation of the circle, so that’s why I’m sticking with my reports.

Actually I can’t really say much about this week almost all of it is gone from my memory. To say that there has been too many things on my mind might just hit it. I really had to bugle down with the Japanese, it has really shown how lacking I actually am in this area, but I’ve improved a lot and hope to improve more in the near future.

Also I had a lot of doubts about all of the waza, the jiyu waza and ofcourse the teaching. All of that mixed with a pretty busy schedule, doesn’t really make for a healthy mind. So since Friday I’ve had to have a few low days of just letting the mind flow, to help get back on my feet, plus some actual sleep have actually helped quite a bit.

Anyways the high ( or low point) of the week was our final examination, which went somewhat well, but was a disaster for me. I was lucky enough to scrape it through, but made some really bad mistakes, that I still feel terrible about. I totally forgot ryotemuchi kotegaeshi and did the wrong technique in katatemochi yonkajo. I’m really glad that I passed, but at the same I time I feel I a little like I don’t deserve it. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is to be taken as a challenge, I messed up so the only thing to do is to do better next time, to study harder and become better. I believe this is the reason sensei let me pass, so that I can show that I deserve it, so I will do my best.

Last week I kept my focus on my feet for various reasons, but one was that I did not see any way that I would have the extra energy to spend on something intirely new. So this week I finally have the time to try and get my hips straight, a goal I’ve had since the beginning of the course. I believe that there is some kind of interplay between my posture, my feet and my hips, because in some positions I’m actually cababel of getting my hips straight, but a light movement and I’m out. And so the search begins.

Have a nice week.

Progress report nr. 22

So I’ve been a little stressed over the last weeks and haven’t had much time that is also why this report has been delayed with a week. I still have a lot to do, but one of them is to look into my goals for the week.

I’ve kept to my promise and made a few notes almost every night before I went to sleep, so that I’m really proud of, for this is really an opportunity to learn and it only comes ones in a lifetime, so I better spend every minute I can learning. 

So from these writings came up a few points that I find really on point when it come to these weekly goals. It has to do with the focus that I’ve been so focused on over the last few weeks, it turns out I’ve actually spread my focus too thin, so that is something to improve upon, so I’ll focus on only one point at a time, like I was told to begin with, and go from there.

I have three major points that I’m working on, one is hips forward the other is keeping connected with the floor and the third is posture. This week I finally got my hips forward, with the help of Payet sensei and found a way to maintain it somewhat without twisting, I really want to do this.

But for this week I find it more important to focus on releasing the last bit of tension that I’ve found in my left knee that is hurting me. So this week I’ll work on that, then next week I’ll have total focus on keeping my hips forward.

Have a nice week.

Progress report nr. 21

So this week has been a little crazy to say the least. First of all its Kan geiko, which means we have special training early in the morning, which isn’t so bad since we get off a little earlier, but very tiring since I have to get up at around 5.30 every day. At the same time I’ve had a lingering cold since last week, with some bad outbreaks at the ending of last week and this week. I’m still not on top, but trying my best not to make it affect my schedule too much.

So what are the important points for this week, well they aren’t so different from all the other weeks, they are about finding balance between the two legs, keeping posture and learning to relax when under pressure. 

But before that I’ve come to realise that my ukemi still is bad, I made some inquires into basic ukemi for kihon dosa this week and realised Ive been doing it wrong specifically hirikinojousei 1 and 2. The most important point is that I’m not going for the connection, but merely for the feeling, which translates into me having a lot of trouble taking ukemi on turning techniques like kotegaeshi. On that I’m also incredibly stiff so everything really hurts me.

I’ve been playing with my balance over the past week and it’s really interesting how small things can make a big difference. Simply by connecting my upper and lower body in the center I can get my feet rather staple, but the back foot is still light when I move. 

The back foot seems to be fixed by pushing in with the lower back, trying to sink the hips into the ground, but is really hard for me to maintain. But that’s the main point, by now I am able to get into a somewhat stable position but if I move I lose it, and if my feet are off by just a few cm I can’t get stable. So for now it’s a matter of 1. Finding the position and 2. Maintaining it.

At work I’ve also paid attention to my posture, and its interesting to see that I actually go into a position that is more demanding on the body simply because I’m tired. I know that if I keep good posture and breath, that I can do my work with very little effort. But my mind is tired so I revert back to what I find comfortable, which usually also requires some twist of the spine and from that more effort. There is not much to be said on that point exempt that I got to keep working on it.

On the last point it might be clear from my opening statement that I’ve been a little under pressure the last couple of weeks, I basically don’t have time to eat nor sleep, so everything is pushed. The point is that as soon as I get pushed I loss contact I forget everything I’ve worked so hard at, like the posture at work, I revert back to using force, to being unaware. This is by no means a new point but it’s something to work on.

So I’ll continue my research into balance and posture for the next week, but also add the object of writing at least a page in my journal everyday, this is something I’ve negcleted for a little to long.

Progress report nr. 20

Another week and more things to work on. So far this week I’ve become aware that I have a hard time keeping the back leg heavy when I move forward, that I don’t make enough of a circle when I move forward in certain teqnicues, which also was apparent in my tainohenkou 1. My hyaku ukemi still needs a lot of work, not to say my Japanese.

On that note I just got the results back from the N5 test, I failed. The written part didn’t go very well but listening seems to have gone a little better. So I’ll have to try again in June, my hope is to do so well that I can take the next level in December. 

On hyaku ukemi I can only say that I need to work more, for I know what needs to be done, I need to extent my arm more, I need better timing on my jump, and I need to land correctly with my feet, I got into a bad habit while my knee was injured and it has stuck, so there is some way to go.

The circle of the foot seems to be related to my grounding problems, I have a hard time keeping connected to the floor when my foot moves in a circle, or more accurately I move only from my leg when I go forward like this. It shows in my tainohenkou 1, where I again at certain points move only from the leg, especially in the forward circle and the movements back. So here is some grounding to be worked on while moving.

The last thing was a observation by sensei. in hirikinojousei 1 my back foot has a tendensy to come of the mat when I move forward and on the way back. Through working a little on it this week, I’ve come to to see that my balance still needs a lot of work. What is happening is that I push of forward, with all my weight on the back foot, this makes the front foot land at some point a little further ahead, but the momentum is still going forward so I have to stop it by pushing with my front leg. This momentum and the push from the front makes the back leg light and some times even floaty. I’ve tried some different ways to make this better and so far the best result has come from dropping my weight downwards onto the bag leg, this naturally makes the front leg go forward and down, the problem is it does not create a lot of forward motion, so I still need to work on it.

It’s getting more and more interesting playing with how different motions affect my body. But actually i feel like I’m starting to lose focus a little bit. You can say a lot about pain and that it’s a sign of injurie, and that in general we should not strife for injurious pain. But the thing is pain is a really good teacher, it keeps you constantly aware of your body, and that you have to move in a way to not make it hurt. I’ve noticed that my seizaho has been getting sloppy and that in general forget to move from my center, this has always been something I’ve had trouble with but that should just be so much more incentive to do it all the time.

Just today we were doing some basic training, where my weaknesses were addressed in a straight forward manner. And it’s something that I’ll have to make a regular part of my training from now on. One of the tools was simply not to slide up the back foot when I step (which is the basic), this allows me to stay heavy on the back foot, and from there slide it into position for next step.

Another exercise that showed some need of improvement was stepping forward with a partner. It gives a good indication of center, but when I do it I can’t move, either the legs go farward or I push with the upper body, so I’ll have to do more work on this.

On a brighter note, today I was training with a beginner, and realized just how far I’ve come since I started. but mostly I was startled by his seizaho, from which I now understand why I was constantly having bad knees in the beginning. I used to sit down like him, to flop from side to side a drop straight down on my knee and then use the force in my knees to sit down. I still have a long way to go as I’ve already said, but sometimes I think it’s good to look back and see how far you have gotten.

Focus points for the week, if it isn’t already apperent from my post I need to work on moving from the center, to be relaxed and strong at the same time. I really want to be able to slide the feet and to keep my back foot heavy, so I’ll be working on the previously mentioned exercise and build up to full shakkoho.

On a site note I also have to work on my posture during the day, it has been getting quite bad.

Progress report nr. 19

This week has gone by very fast, and it fells like there is very little time left, though I know the next couple of weeks are going to be really hard.

I have had many plans during the year for what I could do for my vacation in March, but have finally come to the conclusion that the best plan, is for me to stay here to work and train. Going home would be way too expensive, and going anywhere else would just be wasting valuable time. I have made a list though of places that I wish to go in the future. This includes, Hokkaido, Taiwan and Thailand. So there is plenty to look forward to.

this weeks training has been focused on relaxing into balance. Which has been a good choice, because I’ve made some progress in getting my back foot heavy, but I’ve also seen some major weak points in my concentration, especially when I try to move fast, such as when I get stressed or just want to get something done. This week sensei said something that hit me in regards to this. Because of my training in grounding, I’ve found that relaxing is a good way to go about life and that it gives me a lot more energy. The problem arises when you only know how to relax, if you’ve never learned to extent or to push, then once you meet real opposition you will buckle under the load.

basically what he said was, that before you can be soft you must first be strong. And so far I’ve focused so much on being soft that I could never be able to develop some of the more important aspects of aikido, such as focused power, which requires a movement of the entire body to manifest in a single point. And that my connection of whole body or center never would be strong enough to move anything. These are just the implications I can think of, but there are plenty more.

so I still need to focus on relaxing but also on pushing on always going a little deeper then I find comfortable. I still have a lot to learn.

Progress report nr. 18

It’s good to be back but it’s also hard since I’ve lost a bit of the focus and skill that I’ve accumulated before the break so it’s time to shape back up and get back on the horse.

so coming back I wanted to start by having focus on my center, which is great since I have a hard time getting it. People seem often to describe it as a ball or tightness in their lower belly or back, but I do not fell this, so maybe I’m looking in the wrong place. What I came to realize in the beginning of the week is that, maybe I should just let go of the ideas I’ve been told and look for my own definition.

Ive had a felling of center before but it was mostly during rotational movements, such as round kicks and punches. So I started thinking back to what I actually fell while doing this and it’s not a ball, or energy, it’s the simple felling of the muscles being connected, or rather that there isn’t any looseness. So basically my definition of center has become a part of connection, just as in connecting with your partner with your hands or connecting with the ground with your feet, now there is also connect your body together, an internal connection.

this felling is hard to maintain, since I’m tight in all the wrong places, which means I’ll have to push myself a little out of connection to reach optimal posture, but I believe that this will be corrected with time and stretching. so in my own words I’ll have to find a balance between extension (structure) and connection. The one requires a slight contraction of the muscles the other a slight relaxation.

Sensei has given me some great insights this week into what I need to work on,the first is that I have no balance the other that I don’t move with any power.

The problem with balance I believe is associated with my previous point. When I was in school I was always mocked for being tight and rigid, so it only makes sense that I have trouble with connecting, this is the point I’ve been working on for the longest but also the one I believe to yield the greatest results since it keeps me from hurting myself with tension and bouncing of the mats.

i do not know how to move with power goes back to the center I believe, I simply have not found a method of moving where I can stay grounded and move from the center. Instead what happens is that I tense up, and jump, using only muscular force. This isn’t bad per say, but it’s not the road that I’m on.

so in my simplistic logic the only solution I see is to keep working on the balance between keeping my posture and relaxing into it, to find a balance of tension that will keep me grounded jet propel me forward with power. At this time I believe the best road for me is to learn to relax more into it and find my true balance, then from there work back into the posture, going back and forth like a swing, constantly trying to make the swings smaller, searching for the middle.

take care

 

Progress report nr. 17

A light start to training this week, but I’m already tired, so I’m looking forward to next week…

so over the holidays I’ve had my attention on focus, and do think I’ve made a little progress in that area. I do realise that I need time and space, and that requires that I find a room to be by myself which is not always possible. That is why I’ve made it a point to train my focus while at work, by trying to relax even though there is a constant need for being on in some way or another.

Keeping focus is good and all but what am I keeping focus on, the moon might be ever so beautiful but that won’t help if you’re staring at the ground. so what is it that I want to get better at?

now that it’s a new year and a new beginning I believe in going back to what got me started on all this, which is my search for mastery over movement quality. basically you move with your body, but it’s the mind behind the movement that gives it an impulse, from there it’s given an image through the body by what the body is capable of and by the space you move in. but it is not really the expression that interest me as much as it is the movement itself, for what makes for an efficient movement, is my question. at what point are you moving too much or too little, some ways destroy the body while other builds it up.

The concepts that I’ve learned so far that are important is structure (body alignment or balance) and connection (for now I’ll call grounding, connecting to the ground, but connection is also connecting with the hands or body). these are concepts that I’ve worked on, and have found a great use of in my search.

One concept I keep being told about is the centre, some call it Hara or tan-tian, but this is one I find hard to find, I believe it has something to do with my tight hips, so it will be something to work on with even greater termination this year.

So for next week I’ll be focused on moving from the centre, while paying attention to my attention of my centre.

Have a nice week.

New years report

i can’t exactly say that training has been of the frist priority during the break. For some reason the time has gone so fast and so many things to do, and I’m still not done, so the last couple of days will probably pass by just as fast.

actually I’m a little scared of returning to training, since I’ve done no training, and I fell like I’ve lost all of the connectiveness I had with my body before the break.

Ive tried to keep my focus on my mind, but what I’ve realised is not the way to keep up focus, but an area in which I could stand to improve. It is easy to keep your focus when you’re by yourself in a quite room, to stay connected to your body while laying still on a floor, but the real challenge is to do this while in motion, while you’re surrounded by noise and people.

this has always been very hard for me, I can’t say whether it’s because i have a small attention span, or because I can’t close out sense impressions, what I do know is that when I’m alone I can concentrate very clearly, but when I’m surrounded by people my focus, goes out the window, and everything becomes a blur, I become tense and my mind stops working.

of course it is nice to be able to concentrate while in quite surroundings, but it will only serve you in those surroundings, as soon as you step out in real life it is not like that, so I’ll have to learn to carry over the same relaxedness into my everyday life as I have when I’m by myself. So this week I’ll look into this, and try to keep relaxed while in company or when life knocks on the door.

happy new year.

Progress report nr. 16 and Christmas in japan

christmas is upon us, and we have holiday but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvements. As I said last week my focus has been lacking and this week I’ve merely spent paying attention to my lack of attention.

it seems that my lack of attention has some relation to my personal life, but also to my knee pain. When we are training sometimes a thought appears in my head of things that I’ll need to take care of, or of a problem I’ve been having, this of course is a distraction that keeps me away from the lessons we are being taught. Another really annoying thought is when we’re being taught, and my mind goes I know this, or have some other idea about how it should be done, instead of listening to the advise and guidance I’m being given. It is interesting to see this arrogance from my own site, I do believe that the teachings should be transcended at some point, but at this point I’m still only a student, and will have to learn a lot more.

My ideas of how the mind works are not clear enough for me to find a direct conclusion to how to get ride of these thoughts, so I’ll just keep paying attention to them, and try to find their origin. I do realize that most of them come from my busy life, but also from an arrogance that I was not aware of before. This is something I’ll have to look deeper into.

The othe thing to distract me is my pain, or more like my fear of pain, for I’m almost free of pain now, but am constantly reminded of it by my lack of stability in my left knee, and twisting of the right, this makes me incredibly scared, and from the point of scaredness I try to protect myself and hold back, which does not help me learn, and usually ends in pain because my ukemi becomes slow and overly thought out. This might be something I’ll have to learn to live with, the pains and twists in my knees are warning signals for sure, it tells me that there is room for improvement in my movements, but the scaredness I’ll have to learn to turn into inspiration, so instead of closing of, to open up and see what I can learn from this experience.

 

this week we also have christmas break which has been a little hard on me being so far away from my family, but I’m really lucky to have a family that even though we’re far still fell like they are right there. So even though I had to celebrate Christmas in a foreign country, I could still enjoy the closeness of my family via Skype, email and a few presents.

so to all a merry Christmas and a happy new year.