Monday, October 13, 2014

Dojo News

Dojo Testing:

We will be having testing in the 7pm class on Thursday, October 23rd.  Please come and participate in your dojos progress!  Following testing, we will have a social event.  We will watch the movie classic, Seven Samurai.  To make it more interesting, we found a crossword puzzle based on the movie to work on while we watch so we can be uber geeky.  It's a long movie and peope have to work Fridays, so we might do the second half the next week.  The mat will be open, but no formal class at 8pm.

Regional Practice:

Preliminary date is Saturday, December 6th, from 10:15-1:00pm.  There will be some upper kyu rank testing!!! We will be inviting Ithaca, Eastern Sky, and Albany dojos (and anyone else in Kokikai is welcome, too!)

Traffic Alert:

There will be new traffic patterns near the dojo.  St. Paul and Clinton will be converted to 2-way traffic.  Read more about the changes here.

  • Saint Paul Street — between Cumberland Street and Main Street — will be converted from one-way to two-way throughout the day on Thursday, October 16.
  • North Clinton Avenue — between Cumberland Street and Main Street — will be converted from one-way to two-way throughout the day on Friday, October 17

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A throw by an other name...

The Mask of Zorro (1998)

Don Diego de la Vega [indicating sword]: Do you know how to use that thing?

Alejandro Murrieta: Yes! The pointy end goes into the other man.

So simple.  So wrong. But Funny.

In recent classes we have touched on what it means to "throw" an attacker.  So what is the big question. Well, words mean things and they precondition the mind.  What does "to throw" mean to most people?  Well, let's start with the dictionary. (I think I just got points from Sam).

  1. propel (something) with force through the air by a movement of the arm and hand.
  2. push or force (someone or something) violently and suddenly into a particular physical position or state.

I'd venture to bet that the image that most people conjure when they picture "throwing" is a ball. That's definition 1.  But that's not at all what we do.  In our context, one might fall to definition 2.  But anyone who has been in the dojo for any amount of time has heard us talk in terms completely opposite to pushing and forcing violently.  Thinking in these terms, force, violence, movement of the arm, is contrary in every way to what we aspire to in Aikido.  However, the dictionary leaves us one more meaning of "throw" that brings hope to our discussion

 3. cause to enter suddenly a particular state or condition.

Here lies some level of redemption for this word.  A meaning devoid of conflict but still of intent and action.  We can work with this "throw".

Now that we have dispensed with our boring romp through some until now suppressed memory of a grade school English class, on to the show. 

I have always likened throwing in Aikido to the art of persuasion made physical.  We don't make (force) our attackers into falling down, we somehow convince them to through physical trickery.  Herein lies a trap for us as practitioners.  We, when playing the role of an attacker (uke), can't do so thinking or knowing that we are about to get thrown.  If we do, then we have resigned ourselves to the outcome and have robbed the nage (good guy) of the opportunity to make his case (throw).  As uke, it is not our job to fall.  Neither is it our job to go all Watergate and cheat the nage of his argument.  As uke, it is our job to attack, genuinely, even with some degree of ferocity (as appropriate for the level of nage).  Then and only then, can nage (the good guy) apply their tricks (read techniques) to cause uke to suddenly enter a state of falling on our heads.

What was the point of all this... just like sticking the pointy end in the other man is hardly a complete treatise on swordsmanship, we must be aware of how we describe what we do so that we don't unwittingly bring baggage from colloquial or cultural expectations into our learning process.  They can lead us to ideas that lead us astray from the principles of Aikido and significantly delay our journey up the mountain.

Spend a few moments and rethink how you describe what you do in Aikido.  It might just help your practice.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Some fun you have been missing...

Here's a synopsis of just some of the things we have been working on the last few weeks...

  • We got to explore the latest nuances from our seminars with Sensei.
  • We spent an entire class following the evolution of kokyu nage (at least the 18 years of it that I've seen) and how each stage relates to our current technique.
  • We looked at the timing of attacks and how it relates to practicing our ukemi.
  • We focused on what it really means to "throw" and the differences between actively throwing (incorrect nage), taking our own ukemi (incorrect uke), and convincing ukes to fall down (correct nage and uke).
  • We examined techniques and how they relate to our ki exercises.
  • We practice misogi breathing.
  • We had a ball! :)

What's in store next?  Come find out!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Labor Day - Classes Cancelled

The dojo will be closed on Mon. 9/1 for the Labor Day holiday.
Classes will resume as usual on Tues. 9/2.

Marcella & Harold

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Thank you Sensei!!!

From all of the Rochester Dojo, THANK YOU SENSEI!

We had another great weekend long seminar from our Sensei.  We had a full mat both Saturday and Sunday including visitors from our Webster program, Eastern Sky Aikido in Fairport, as well as from Kokikai Ithaca, MIT, Boston, and Garden State, NJ dojos.  Thank you to everyone who chipped in and made his visit a great success.

Sensei Maruyama visits the United States from his home dojo in Nagoya three times every year.  The Rochester dojo is extremely fortunate to be on the short list of stops during his summer trip.  It is exciting to see the subtle power demonstrated by Sensei and how his techniques becomes more and more efficient and powerful every year.  Sensei's awareness of his body and state of mind allow him to effortlessly cause people more than twice his size to crumble.  He is constant proof that brawn is not the answer and validates the entire construct of self defense.  He shows how smaller, weaker people can easily defeat an attack from larger and stronger assailants.

To learn more about Kokikai Aikido and the Rochester Dojo, see our full website.  Check out the Kokikai organizations website to find a Kokikai dojo near you.