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Never satisfied with ukemi, episode 2

August 25, 2011

Last New Year I resolved to improve my ukemi (link to the origional poster here).  Like nearly all resolutions it fell by the wayside.  In the space of a few months I became quite lazy with the gymnastic exercises I’d set myself.  I don’t think I’m any closer to doing any of the spectacular feather falls.

Like every year I’ve had some small niggling injuries.   When I’m tired or feel aches in some muscles I find the judo/split-leg style forward roll more comfortable one side and the aikido/tucked-leg style more comfortable on the other.   I’ll check in with the physio to see if there’s some underlying cause for this and prevent it turning into an injury.   There are certain muscles and joint that maybe aren’t getting the maintenance they deserve.

Strikes:   Kicks and punches look and feel a little better in bag/pad work.  Strikes in aikido still wander a little, I should refocus on bokken suburi to rectify this.

Grabs and holds in aikido:  I’m still pulling/pushing/etc.  I think it’s improved a little but the big mistake is still withdrawing my centre and losing extension.  Part of the problem may be that I still think of the holds as just a way of facilitating my partner’s training.   I’ll try to practise some exercises where you progress the attack from the initial hold (like morotedori to yonkyo).  Hopefully experiencing these a few times will change my attitude to the holds.

Breathing:  This has improved since the start of the year.  I’m rarely the first to lag in training but being a more conscious of it has improved the feel of techniques as both uke and tori.  There were times in the past when taking ukemi from my instructor I’d be caught in a position not breathing in or out.  Mindfully breathing in before each technique has helped this but I’m sure it’ll happen again.

Extension:  This was highlighted to me in summer school as my weak point.  I see mindful practise and bokken suburi in my future to help this.

Flexibility:  I have lost a little range of motion.  I’ve been particularly feeling this in zazen (lack of flexibility -> compromised structure in sitting position even with props -> muscle spasms -> distraction/discomfort).  The once a month zazen discomforts are soon forgotten but a week of morning zazen hammers home the point.  A combination of arriving a little earlier to warm up and static stretching after/outside of training should help this.

Escaping:  In aikido I’m still trying to avoid techniques too much instead of keeping extension and following them.  I’m having fun playing with the wrestling in college, it’s amazing how a little hip mobility and a bridge can get you out of a lot of trouble.

Posture:  I’ve gotten into the lazy habit of rising up and taking the weight more onto my back leg.  I’ll try to exaggerate hamni for a while so putting the weight forward becomes natural.  Bokken suburi and mindful practise rear their heads again as the obvious tools or improving this.   Mindful sitting and walking are on the list too.

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