Did the unthinkable (my Aikido journey)

kokoro

Protector
We're all deficient in one form or another. I can only imagine what these two had been like when they started training. They must have come very far from their beginnings. They were passed for a reason, and that is up to the Sensei. As it was put in another thread "aikido is not for correcting others, it is for correcting self".

PS: good to hear your ukemi is progressing, keep it up - despite the pain.

take care
kokoro
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
Feeling a bit depressed this evening about aikido.

We had another round of testing on Tuesday (I wasn't testing, not enough days). All ranks from 5th kyu to 1st kyu tests were held.

I was watching with particular attention to the third kyu test, which is supposedly going to be my next test.

I say supposedly, because I've just had a look at the schedule and realised a) I might not have enough days to test in March (I've been sick and also I've had to miss some classes due to work), b) I only have about 9 free practice days in which to learn and perfect all of the techniques (and there are quite a few) and c) there is not a hope of hell freezing over that I can do the ukemi requirements (they include ushiro my yoko kaiten, crossover forward rolls and armless rolls. I STILL can't do a simple forward roll, so I haven't even bothered trying these others. The armless roll in particular gives me the willies because you do have to get down so low to the mat, and my body just can't bend that much).

We did one of the 2nd kyu techniques tonight during class - han mi handachi shomenuchi irimi nage. It was a flaming nightmare. My hips were screaming after just two attempts. (For me, it's not the knees that are the problem, it's my hips and toes - they just aren't flexible, and I'd already pulled something in the neighbourhood of the groin earlier in the evening.)

I was practically in tears from frustration.

I'm very much afraid that I've had my last test. From here on in, I'm just coming to class to remain active and to keep my joints from seizing up any more than they already have.

Testing requirements for 3rd kyu in my dojo are as follows:

3rd Kyu (100 practice days)
1. Yokomenuchi Iriminage (2 ways)
2. Yokomenuchi Kotegaeshi
3. Tsuki Kaitennage
4. Ushiro Ryokatatori Sankyo (omote and ura)
5. Morotetori Iriminage (2 ways)
6. Shomenuchi Sankyo (omote and ura)
7. Suwari Waza: Shomenuchi Iriminage
Shomenuchi Nikkyo (omote and ura)
8. Hanmi-Handachi: Katatetori Shihonage
Katatetori Kaitennage (uchi and soto mawari)
9. Ukemi
· Armless roll
· Ushiro Mai Yoko Kaiten: from a stationary position and from a Tenchinage throw
· Breakfalls from a series of different throws
· Continuous crossover (opposite arm & leg) rolls
10. Bokken
· Happo giri
11. Jo
· Hasso gaeshi no bu

Learn all of that in nine hours? As if.

:(
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
Feeling better now that I've decided what's the rush, and I can take my 3rd kyu test in June.

We're on the "Christmas Holiday" schedule right now, so there are a few classes. (Couldn't go last night because it was Call Dad night.)

However, that's not what I wanted to comment on. What I want to comment on is, this, from another thread:

SweetChinMusic said:
...But since Aikido is a worthless martial art (sorry guys but it is)...

A lot of people make this comment, and I'm curious as to why people think it's a worthless martial art.

Is it because it doesn't have any aggressive moves? No fancy punches, flying kicks, neck-snapping - no, scratch that one, there are a couple of neck snapping moves that I wouldn't dare try on the best day I ever had - or other similarly flashy "action" set pieces?

I've come across this kind of contempt before - usually from people who haven't practiced - and I'm wondering, where is this disdain coming from?
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
Feeling better now that I've decided what's the rush, and I can take my 3rd kyu test in June.

We're on the "Christmas Holiday" schedule right now, so there are a few classes. (Couldn't go last night because it was Call Dad night.)

However, that's not what I wanted to comment on. What I want to comment on is, this, from another thread:

SweetChinMusic said:
...But since Aikido is a worthless martial art (sorry guys but it is)...

A lot of people make this comment, and I'm curious as to why people think it's a worthless martial art.

Is it because it doesn't have any aggressive moves? No fancy punches, flying kicks, neck-snapping - no, scratch that one, there are a couple of neck snapping moves that I wouldn't dare try on the best day I ever had - or other similarly flashy "action" set pieces?

I've come across this kind of contempt before - usually from people who haven't practiced - and I'm wondering, where is this disdain coming from?
 

tenshinaikidoka

Martial Art Student
TD,

I think that when someone makes these types of comments, they have not trained in Aikido and make assumptions, or they only take a few classes and do not get a chance to absorb what the reality of AIkido is.

People see these falls, flips and throws and dismiss it as "dancing" because, like you said, there are no flying kicks, or speed punches thrown. Each person can make thier art a good tool. Other people can make thier art a worthless piece of garbage. It isn't the art, but the application of the art by a person. At least that is my take.

I train very seriously for self defense and to improve myself. Others do not, they train for excersise, or whatever. Hey, to each his/her own. The underlying theme is the improvement of ones self in whatever way they see fit. But, I can thump someone if (and I have) had to!!!! But then again, I am a little more brutal in my training and teaching.
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks, tenshin.

A friend of mine recently left aikido and has taken up Brazilian jiu jitsu. He says it's more "real" than aikido and he feels that if he's confronted in a fight, BJJ will stand him in better stead than aikido.

He's also been unable to practice for over a month because of badly bruised ribs, acquired through being thrown down and pretty much sat on by a bigger, heaver, stronger opponent.

I've heard him describe his moves in BJJ and to me, it seems to me to be all about physical strength. I'm also concerned about him because BJJ is teaching him to tap into his aggression, and I have to wonder about that as a focus for a martial art.

It also occurs to me that a lot of martial arts - karate, judo, BJJ, etc. - the ones that have the competitions, it's all about strength and who's better and points and trophies.

Sometimes guys - especially the big ones - that come to try out aikido think that's it's all about strength. A lot of them don't come back because they want brutal, they want fancy flying kicks and they want to be the one taking the other guy down - and they want the black belt within a year.

I don't do brutal (though one of my instructors calls me "The Black Widow"), and I know I couldn't take brutal because of my physical deficiencies (I'm still nervous going down, despite my best efforts, because of my back problems). I think you're right about people seeing the falls, flips and rolls and think that it's dancing because it looks so easy, and yet, it's very difficult to get someone to go down, especially if they don't want to. And most people don't want to.

What people like SweetChinMusic see is the final product, so to speak - years and years of practice that make it look easy. I guess that's why people think it's not a real martial art.
 

Kotegashi

Master Of Disaster
Staff member
Everybody claiming Aikido isn't real hasn't studied Aikido the way it is supposed to be studied.

I know that there are some forms of aikido that focus more on the spiritual side of it and the techniques are not the main focus. These forms can indeed be "unrealistic".

But studying the more basic forms like aikikai (also mr. Seagals form), you can feel and undergo an energy that makes aikido work.

Of course Aikido is one of the most difficult martial arts to learn and it that perspective jiu jitsu or karate can be used in a fight sooner and more easily. But it indeed unleashes your agression and aikido uses a more peacefull path of harmony and tranquility.

For example, I knew a black belt karateka who almost killed his girlfriend with a strike to the face (she broke almost every bone in her face) when she tapped him on his shoulder when she saw him shopping and wanted to surprise him. This wouldn't have happened if the guy were a black belt aikidoka.

I've studied Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Kyokishin karate and aikido. And I prefer aikido as my martial art.

Peace
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
Just a brief update.

I'm continuing to practice, even though my back pain has come back. Sometimes going to class helps, sometimes it doesn't. I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago, and he tells me that the type of problem that I have isn't one that is going to go away with time. The only recourse is surgery.

I've been spending the last couple of weeks getting my mind around it.

One of the people practicing at the dojo has had similar surgery - twice! - and it hasn't stopped him from practicing, so I'm hopeful that with good results, I can continue to practice once the recovery time is complete. However, it takes one year to recover from this type of surgery, and at my age, one year lost is disastrous. But I will have to ask the surgeon about that if I ever find out when my consultation appointment is going to be (note to self: call physician and tell him to get moving on this).

Whether or not I ever achieve a higher rank is doubtful, however.

I have never, in my life, ever felt about anything the way I feel about practicing aikido. It has been a wonderful journey so far, and I hope that, all deities and spirits willing, I will be able to continue.
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
Haven't updated in a while, so here's all the latest news.

My back problems continue. I was in excruciating pain from just after Christmas to about the end of February, and then it gradually went away. I had acupuncture treatment, and I think that helped.

My doctor, however, insists that I need surgery. Laminectomy for the pinched nerve root, and fusion for the dislocated vertebra.

For sure the fusion surgery would end my practicing aikido ever again. While we do have someone in the dojo who has had fusion surgery, he's a much younger individual than I am, and healed well. I'm not so young, and healing is not something I do well. And it takes a year to recover from the fusion surgery; at my age, taking a year off aikido would pretty much finish me. I'd never be able to get back what I'd lose over the year.

So, I have choice: go through painful periods and continue to practice, or have the surgery and give up aikido.

I'm looking into alternatives because I don't believe this particular surgery will do me one bit of good. There's another procedure, called laminoscopy, that's less invasive than a laminectomy, which I might agree to; and there's also experimental disk replacement surgery, which I'll only consider having done once I've gone as far as I can in aikido and can no longer practice it. But, forget the fusion surgery. Everything I've read about it and the anecdotal stories about what happens post-surgery tells me it's the wrong thing for me. There's a 25% failure rate, requiring a second surgery to put right; there's no guarantee the pain will go away (which is the reason for having it); and it will produce reduced mobility, not something I need more of, thank you very much.

On the aikido front, I am continuing to practice, back problems notwithstanding (actually, aikido really helps with my back problems). We were supposed to have a seminar, but the visiting sensei's flight got cancelled due to weather so we had "fill-in" senseis from around town teaching. That was fun. I actually performed a perfectly acceptable and properly executed forward roll (they seem to be happening more often lately, though only on one side at the moment), so I'm hopeful this is something I'll continue to improve in.

Now being considered as a "senior" student, I'm obligated to work with the new students. The good news is we have quite a crop of new students this year and many of them are continuing past the initial 3-month period. The bad news is, my own practice is suffering because I'm not working with students more senior to myself, and so my own progress in techniques is starting to suffer.

Last night I was working with a 6th-kyu student, someone I was never comfortable practicing with. He's six-foot-plus, about 230 lbs, and strong as an ox. I don't have sufficient skill yet to deal with his physical strength with proper application of technique. At the same time, he is someone who refuses to let go of his physical strength; working with him last night, he came very close to breaking my arm from the brute strength he was applying to it, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I slapped the mat, I slapped my leg, anything to get him to stop, and he would not stop (mostly because he doesn't pay attention to the "stop slap").

I was so rattled, I did something extremely rude. I walked away from him.

I did go to the sensei teaching the class and told him I could not work with this guy, and then I went into the ladies' room to calm myself down. I was trying to figure out what it was I was feeling: rage at the inadequacy of my weakness, my inability to execute technique well enough so that he could use his strength against me, the utter feeling of helplessness when I couldn't get him to acknowledge my request to stop, knowing that no matter what I did, he had complete control over me because he had something I didn't - brute strength, and I didn't have what I needed - good technique to counter brute strength - it was all these things.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked the sensei who teaches the advanced class on Sundays if I could join his class with the caution that I can't be bounced around like the black belts (usually, the prerequisite/restriction for this class is 5th kyu and "good ukemi" and while I'm 4th kyu, my ukemi is not good by a long shot). He agreed to let me join the class; so this Sunday, I'll be on the mat with the senior students and black belts.

I'm not going to let that big guy intimidate me again. I'm going to practice with senior students and black belts until I'm no longer afraid of him and what he can do to me with his brute strength. And by then, it won't matter (I hope!).

Oh, and I'm going to take my 3rd kyu test in June. If my back lets me.
 

kokoro

Protector
Courage

Hi ya TD,

well, when first reading your last post, it sounded like you were going to give up. But, towards the end, your determination came through, and thats great to see.

Dont let your limitations get the better of you. They only prevent you doing certain things, not everything. I once had a Kung Fu Sifu that had spinabifida. He was wheelchair bound when he started, there was plenty he was unable to do, but he eventually, after many years, gained his Black Sash, and assisted in Instructing. One day, he got out of his wheelchair, walked across the room up to me and corrected my punching. I felt a little strange, but his punches were allot faster than mine, and his locks were very handy. He looked uncomfortable standing, but he felt it neccessary to correct me, and I appreciated it, especially since I realised he didn't have too many limitations. He was poficient with weapons too, so although he appeared disabled, it wasn't quite what you would expect from someone with his condition. He was well repected throughout the organisation.

When I instructed Aikido, I had a girl with a fused arm. Her elbow and wrist would not bend. But she did not let that limitation get the better of her. She did the best she could, and the things she could do, she did extremly well after much practice. I also had a young lad in a wheelchair, he could not roll, or walk, but he could lock you up extremely well if you got too close, and deflect puches and kicks well. His weapons technique (jo, tanto) had to be modified a little, but he gained confidence and did etremely well. He even showed up to class after an operation, as he was so upset to miss his class. On some occassions, he managed to lift himself out of the chair and onto the mat, so he could bow in with the rest of the class! It really put lumps in my throat big time!!! It really showed the rest of us how limited WE were in what we did.

I can only hope, that what ever direction/path you take, you stick to what you have started, as you already have come so far

What ever you decide to do with your body, don't stop learning Aikido just because some things you cannot do, as there is so much more you can do!!
I know your pain is difficult for you, and wish you better health. good luck!!
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks, kokoro.

I've had another setback - I've done something to my knee. I've been ordered to stay off the mat for at least a week. If I go back on the mat and the pain is still there, then it's likely a bone chip has worked its way in between this and that and I'll have to have surgery...

That, in addition to the problems I've been having with my left eye (vision, possible loss of), and one could say this has been a very, very bad week - hell, it's been a bad year so far, and I'm about due for something good to happen....

I don't think I can take much more in the way of bad news.

:(
 

kokoro

Protector
TDWoj;174900 said:
Thanks, kokoro.

I've had another setback - I've done something to my knee. I've been ordered to stay off the mat for at least a week. If I go back on the mat and the pain is still there, then it's likely a bone chip has worked its way in between this and that and I'll have to have surgery...

That, in addition to the problems I've been having with my left eye (vision, possible loss of), and one could say this has been a very, very bad week - hell, it's been a bad year so far, and I'm about due for something good to happen....

I don't think I can take much more in the way of bad news.

:(


Well TD,

as you stated...setbacks! keep us posted huh.

Good luck!!:yin:
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
I see the doctor tomorrow about what's wrong with my knee, and it doesn't look good. I'm seeing both my family doctor (who gave me the wrong diagnosis) and the sports medicine doctor. I am afraid that because of the delay in treatment because of the wrong diagnosis and not getting the right treatment for it right away, my knee problem could permanently put me out of commission regarding practice.
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
A setback, not a cessation.

Oh, thank goodness.

By the way, I hate doctors.

They were saying surgery; they were saying that if my knees don't hurt when I walk, that's all that matters, and why do you want to continue taking martial arts at your age, anyway?

They were scaring me to death, mostly because I couldn't make them understand how much aikido means to me. To them, the only thing a middle-aged woman should be doing with her knees is using them to walk on. Martial arts? Forget it.

Wrong diagnosis; wrong treatment.

Not irreparable, as it turns out. More visits to the phsyiotherapist and massage therapists are required, however; where I'm going to get the money to pay for that, I don't know.

For now, I'm not taking any hard ukemi; it'll be a while before I know for sure if my knee is going to get better or not.

In the meantime, my aikido journey continues, albeit at a slower pace than before.
 

ORANGATUANG

Wildfire
What an quack..that means doctor who doesnt know what he is talking about TD iam sure you feel in your own body who much you can and cant do so to that doctor go bite your butt and leave our TD alone...i know TD you should have turned around and said god are you still qualified to be an doctor..thats when second oppinions are an good idea..
 

tenshinaikidoka

Martial Art Student
If it were me, I would continue to train until it was physically imposible to do so. I hate doctors too, and cannot listen to half the things they say. Keep it up TD, oh yeah, long time no talk!!!!!!!!! :)
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
ORANGATUANG;175890 said:
What an quack..that means doctor who doesnt know what he is talking about TD iam sure you feel in your own body who much you can and cant do so to that doctor go bite your butt and leave our TD alone...i know TD you should have turned around and said god are you still qualified to be an doctor..thats when second oppinions are an good idea..

Thanks, Heather.

I've been doing the stretching exercises the physiotherapist gave me; makes my legs hurt like hell, but I think that's good... I figure it'll take about a year before I see any positive results.

In the meantime, it's practice, practice, practice... my 3rd kyu test is only a couple of weeks away, and I'm still a bit shaky on some of the techniques. Unfortunately, I've only got two free practice days left! I guess I'll see if I can sneak in a few extra minutes of practice before class. I want to "wow" them! (Seeing as this test will probably be my last one.)

My knee still hurts, though. Grrr!
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
Well, now.

Had my 3rd kyu test tonight.

Passed my 3rd kyu test tonight.

(I'm too tired to yell "yay" so someone is going to have to do it for me.)

Things to work on:

  • breathing
  • han mi during randori

Oh, yes. A word about the randori. I wasn't expecting to do it. They didn't for the last ones who tested for 3rd kyu, so I thought I was off the hook.

Nope.

"Let's have three uke", sez Sensei. "Oh, what the heck - let's have four."

Oh, dear God.

Randori lasted about 2 minutes (Or maybe it just seemed like 2 minutes and it was really only 30 seconds, although I'm fairly certain I threw each uke at least four or five times). I thought I was going to die - I was already way winded from the techniques - which, by the way, because of the problems I've been having with my knee and earlier, my back problems, I only practiced a couple of times since January. And I had had no randori practice AT ALL in the past couple of months, either.

Basically, I was winging it. Apparently, well enough that the only comments I had were about han mi and breathing. Oh, yes - and I have to learn to "love my uke" because, it's true, I did hammer my poor uke into the mat - wholly unintentionally, I assure you. It was just nerves and trying to remember what the techniques were! (I realised afterward that not only did I do the 3rd kyu requirements, I also did requirements from previous levels. And "another technique against..." various attacks.)

I was going to have this as my last test, but one of the instructors said to me this evening that I was well on my way towards my shodan test, so maybe....

But not until I conquer the forward roll (which is STILL a problem, moreso now that I have this knee problem that's not going away as fast as I'd like).

Forward ukemi. Han mi during randori. Breathing.

200 practice days to 2nd kyu....

What do you think? Should I go for it?
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
GlimmerMan;176440 said:
Does that mean you have to practice 200 times (ie - go to 200 lessons) until you can take the 2nd Kyu test?

Yes, more or less (i.e., if I went to class in the morning and then again in the evening, it would still only count as one practice day).

I want to do the test, it's just that I think I've reached my physical limits in terms of how much my body can take. At this point, I'm in no rush; I just want to work on healing my knee, and seeing if I can get away without back surgery for a few more years. If I have to have the back surgery, then that's it for aikido.

We'll see.
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
Okay.

After some due consideration, I've decided to, um, expose myself.

No, not that way.

Here are a couple of photos from my 3rd kyu test.

One is shihonage han mi han dachi, the other is me getting killed during the randori.

I have other photos (which you'll never see) but I see from the photos that I do indeed need to work on my han mi, as per what the judges said.

Enjoy. I may not leave these up for long. It's embarrassing enough to see that my gi is shrinking faster than my weight loss can keep up to.
 

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