ironphoenix: (pirate)
( Jun. 6th, 2017 04:24 pm)
After a hiatus of a few weeks, I'm back to my martial arts practices. The break was enjoyable in some ways, but it's good to see everyone and catch up, to move that way again, and to experience (and contribute to) the energizing effects of the space and practice.
ironphoenix: (slicktory)
( May. 17th, 2015 07:00 am)
I passed my shodan (first-degree black belt) test in aikido yesterday, after about 15 years of practice! I'm still in Montreal for day 2 of the seminar where the tests are held, feeling a bit stiff and sore from the 5 hours of practice yesterday; it'll ease up once I get back on the mats and moving, and I have tomorrow to recover.
ironphoenix: (slicktory)
( Aug. 5th, 2012 03:20 pm)
I'm back from Aikido Summer Camp! I made it thorough uninjured, although pretty much everything is sore, stiff, abraded, and/or bruised. Over the 6 days I was there, I attended 28 classes, taught by senior instructors from Canada, the US, France, and Argentina; my body surprised me by being up for more classes than I expected. A quarter of those were weapons classes, which are a bit easier on the body because they don't involve throws and falls; these were held outside in a large gazebo-like structure.

The venue was quite pleasant, with nice rooms and good breakfasts and dinners (included in the package price). The optional, non-free lunch buffet was a bit disappointing, but it was a minor issue. The pool and hot tub were very welcome at the end of the days, too.

My traveling companion was pleasant and helpful: he had been there the previous year, and was quite well-connected, particularly with the crowd from Montreal, so I had an "in" for some of the social groups, including the evening suite parties of one of the senior instructors. He also guided me in which courses to attend, and encouraged me to keep going when my body was somewhat sore.

All in all, it was a great experience; how much I learned will only really be apparent once I get back to my usual practice, since so much of what I was doing there was new and so many of the other students were well beyond my skill level. I'm guessing that I'll go back every couple of years, schedule and budget permitting.
ironphoenix: (slicktory)
( Jul. 28th, 2012 06:25 am)
Off to aikido summer camp... see y'all in a week!
ironphoenix: (no return)
( May. 5th, 2012 10:42 am)
I've just registered for the US Aikido Federation Summer Camp: a week of pretty much flat-out aikido, at the end of July. It promises to be intense!
ironphoenix: (flaming)
( Mar. 18th, 2012 10:39 am)
My ikkyu (what would be brown belt in most arts that use colors for ranks) test in aikido is scheduled... Wednesday the 28th. This is the last one I'll do here; black belt tests are done out of town, at seminars.

It has been a long time coming, in large part because I've put it off.
ironphoenix: (flaming)
( Feb. 20th, 2012 10:26 am)
I think my test time at aikido is coming soon... I should skip Wednesday evening games at Carleton more to practice up. My "grid", as it's called, is pretty much settled, and now I'm just trying to drill the specific techniques into my hindbrain. The grid is a matrix of five basic throws by a dozen basic attacks; one constructs a set of techniques for each combination which cover the different directions and basic variations of the techniques. The particular choices made here are quite individual, and they become one's "hip-pocket" techniques. The other bits are mostly okay, although I still could use more multiple-attacker work and maybe a little disarming practice against staff and sword as well, just in case. There's one hip throw that I really want to get right, too... the fellow who showed it to me nicknames it "the choo-choo train", because of the circular motion of the hip used to drive the throw. It's a throw in a style favored by one of our senior instructors whom I see too seldom, and I'd like to drop it in on my test as a bit of a tribute.

The recent change of Friday evening classes to kenjutsu makes things a bit tricky, since that has long been one of my usual practice nights, and now I can't really use it for aikido test prep. On the flip side, I think I may have more of a talent for kenjutsu than for aikido, so the sense of relatively rapid progress is a welcome change. Of course, it might also be that my aikido practice has trained me to be better at learning this kind of stuff.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Dec. 22nd, 2011 12:43 pm)
It's simultaneously flattering and humbling to have so many folks at the dojo willing, nay eager, to help me with preparations for my first kyu test, which I expect to take sometime around March.
ironphoenix: (ninja)
( Dec. 6th, 2011 03:04 pm)
I'm working on getting ready for my ikkyu test in aikido; this is the last test before shodan (first degree black belt), and the last one I will take at my home dojo. It's a technically demanding test, and a psychologically tough one too: there have been a lot of hard acts to follow at this level. My "grid" of techniques for each possible attack is becoming more settled, but I haven't fully internalized it yet. I may be ready this month; if not, hopefully in the spring.

Friday evening classes at the dojo have recently been converted to kenjutsu classes: a student from Edmonton is teaching Shinkage-Ryu Kenjutsu, a style of Japanese weapons technique which dates back to the Warring States period of 450 years ago. It's quite different in flavor from aikido, but there are many connections as well. Our aikido weapons practice is now mainly integrated into the other advanced classes.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( May. 22nd, 2011 12:28 pm)
I must really like aikido.

I got up at 05:00, and left Ottawa shortly after 6 with a friend to head to Montreal for a seminar. It took just under 2 hours to get there, but then about 45 minutes to find a parking and walk to the seminar, which had changed location slightly from previous years. Register, change, and get on the mats for 9, and then the fun began.

We had an hour with each of three Shihan: Yamada Sensei from New York, Bernath Sensei from Florida, and Fukakusa Sensei from Thailand. I got to practice with new folks from all over the Northeast of the continent, including the renowned Robert Zimmerman Sensei from Toronto, whose style is reputed to be extraordinarily hard. I found him forceful, but not excessively so; of course, he may well have been going easy on me as a white belt he hadn't met before. By the end of the morning, I was pretty tired, and looking forward to lunch!

After showering and getting back into street clothes, we strolled down to a nearby mall, where I ate about half of an immense serving of pretty good pad thai, then went back via the car to get my other backpack with a fresh gi etc. for the afternoon.

In the afternoon, we had another hour with each of Fukakusa and Yamada; by the end of the second hour, I was having a hard time getting up, and my thigh muscles were starting to spasm, which is new! After that, I handled a camera for filming our dan-rank tests. The tests ran for a bit over an hour, and then we were done for the evening.

Showered and changed again, the crowd from our dojo, about twenty of us, went off to a nearby Indian restaurant, where I got into a Taj Mahal draft beer (an ale which goes quite well with the Indian spices), some onion bahji, and a very tasty balti goat curry. The mood was quite celebratory, as we had all our candidates pass: 2 new shodan (first-degree black belt) and 3 new sandan (third-degree black belt, the highest rank generally given by examination).

After dinner, a few of us went off in search of dessert, and found a little place nearby with a convenient cluster of couches, so we hung out for a while there, taking the rare opportunity to socialize and hang out. After classes back home, there's always a reason to rush off, so we don't get to relax together as much as we'd sometimes wish.

Around 10:00, we figured it was time to head back to Ottawa, so we hobbled our way back to the car and drove back home. I unpacked my rather damp gis and crashed into bed somewhere around 12:30, and then slept for most of ten hours. Today will not be a very active day for me... I'm sore everywhere.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Aug. 16th, 2010 04:23 pm)
The Ottawa Shambhala Centre is hosting a qigong levels I and II seminar on September 25-26. My understanding is that this is quite basic stuff, but opens the door to doing the higher-level courses, which get somewhat more substantial. The head instructor at my aikido dojo is a fan, and I trust his judgment in these things, so I plan to give it a try... anyone else interested?
...and I like at least half of you half as well as you deserve.

I have, however, a fair number of obligations on my time these days, so if I haven't seen you in a while, it's likely not because I don't want to see you, but because I am busy. Admittedly, some of my busy is fun stuff, but it does keep me from seeing some of you. Things will be slightly less frazzled come the fall, and perhaps even less so in the winter, Insha'Allah.

So what's going on?

Aikido continues to keep me busy. I have finally started serious work on my ikkyu test in aikido, having procrastinated quite long enough thanks. The head instructor has given his blessing, and I'll do the test itself either in late September or mid-December; we'll see how he and I feel about it in a month. I'm still coordinating seminars; the next one is at the end of October. There is some uncertainty about our space, as the building may soon be bought (the deal is still conditional, afaik), so I'm hemming and hawing about setting up the seminar after that.

In other news, vacations are winding down, but next weekend, we have a little trip to Montreal planned, the RPG I play on Tuesdays is back up, and [ profile] soul_diaspora's and my parents are all arriving in town just after Labour Day, so there will be lots going on for a while yet!
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Apr. 13th, 2010 02:28 pm)
A few weeks ago, I took on the post of Seminar Coordinator for my aikido dojo, since nobody else was stepping up to take care of it. The coming weekend is a seminar for which many preparations weren't done, so I've been rather hectically getting stuff ready.

I think it's under control now. Volunteers are always the most fun to organize!

Hopefully, the advance work we're doing for future ones will pay off, both in terms of being less panicked in the lead-up weeks and in profitability. We have to stop losing money on these things!

I'll be happy when the doors close behind the last student on Sunday, though.
ironphoenix: (flaming)
( Oct. 27th, 2009 11:37 am)
At aikido, I know I've asked a good question when all the black belts in earshot sit down to hear the answer.

(In this case, I asked why would one convert a technique from an ikkyo control to a yonkyo one; the answer had to do with how the attacker's elbow would naturally rise if they tried to come in under the ikkyo control, and how that led naturally into the yonkyo.)
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Jul. 9th, 2009 01:06 pm)
Starting next week, I plan to begin training seriously towards my first-kyu (what would be called a "brown belt" in some arts) test in aikido, which will take place (I hope) in September or (if I or my sensei think it wiser) December. This means that I'll be doing at least 3 classes a week, preferably 4 or 5, for the next few months (although some of them will be consecutive classes on the same evening).

Weeknights will thus be hard to catch me on during this period, since I already have 2 weekly commitments, leaving 3 weeknights available for aikido classes. I know that some of you are away or busy during the weekends, so I won't be seeing you as much as I would like; rest assured, it's not a snub!

This test being kind of a big deal, at least to me, and the last aikido test I'll do in Ottawa (dan-rank tests are done at seminars in Montreal or Toronto), I'll likely invite any interested friends to come and watch it when the date is set.
ironphoenix: (ninja)
( Apr. 13th, 2009 08:31 pm)
It was a small group at aikido today: just 5 of us.

5-dan: qty 1 (Sensei D.)
4-dan: qty 2 (Senseis W. and L.)
1-kyu: qty 1 (M.L.)
2-kyu: qty 1 (me)

It's a great way to learn, but good heavens, the energy was intense. I don't often get to be the kohai for the class these days. Also, I haven't been that winded in quite a while!
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Oct. 27th, 2008 10:55 pm)
Tonight, at the direction of our head instructor, I started practicing in earnest for my ikkyu test, the last one before shodan, and so my last one at my home dojo. (Black belt tests are taken at seminars under the aegis of very select senior instructors.)

I did some randori (multiple-attacker freestyle), and got over a bit of my neurosis that my randori sucks. It's not good, but it's not as bad as I had psyched myself into thinking it was. Doing several in an evening is good for getting a sense of progress in what can be a very daunting activity.

I also started working on "the grid," a matrix of techniques which consists of five different throws for each of about a dozen standardized attacks. The attacks and the eventual throws are specified, but the stuff in the middle is left as a proverbial Exercise For The Student, and there are an infinity of options available. The challenge is to find a collection of techniques which are reasonably straightforward (it's not time to be too flashy), well suited to me, and diverse. Tonight, I figured out a possible set of techniques for a particular attack, "shomenuchi," which is an overhand striking attack.

aikido geekage continues in detail... )

Overall, it's an exciting time, although it will probably take me out of the comfort zone I've been in for a few years, since now I'll probably start getting stressed out about "making progress" instead of just practicing without much thought for the long run.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Nov. 22nd, 2007 03:31 pm)
I think I'm going to take a sabbatical from aikido this December. Not that I don't enjoy it, but I want to give myself a bit of time to think and do a few other things for a while. The New Year's Day traditional practice of 108 repetitions of a technique (based on Buddhist practice) will also make a perfect time to go back to it, fresh and hopefully unencumbered.

This also means that I'll have more time to get together with people, so if you're interested in doing something together, drop me a note!
ironphoenix: (gear)
( Sep. 29th, 2007 10:46 am)
It's been a while since I practiced aikido four days in a week, and my body is voicing its concern. Coupled with a hike last Sunday (Wolf trail in the Gatineau, 8.2 km) and more walking than usual due to work (tests taking place in a nearby building), I think this may be the most exercise I've gotten in quite a while. It's definitely doing good things for my cardio fitness and mood. Hopefully, the ache in my elbows and knees is mainly due to the extra stresses put on them while taking ukemi1 for gradings on Wednesday.

I should say more about the gradings. We had a fifth kyu2, two thirds, and a second. I took ukemi, including suwari-waza3, which I generally avoid because of knee issues, for one of the third kyu candidates, and for the randori4 for both third kyu candidates (simultaneous randori, which was somewhat chaotic) and the second kyu candidate. All of them passed; our sensei won't invite someone up for a test for which they aren't ready.

All told, a good week for my body, but one that I shouldn't repeat too soon!

1: "Ukemi" is taking the role of "uke", the person who "receives" a technique; learing to do it well is as difficult and as important as learning the techniques.

2: The highest rank before black belt is first kyu (ikkyu); increasing numbers in kyu ranks (nikyu, sankyu, yonkyu, gokyu) refer to successively lower grades.

3: Suwari-waza is technique done while kneeling; it is practiced because in polite Japanese usage, it is improper for a vassal to be above his lord, and since samurai might have to dispatch an assailant while their lord was seated, and it would inconvenience the lord to rise, some "upper-class" Japanese arts such as iaido and aikido teach techniques which are done from a kneeling position.

4: Randori is freestyle technique with multiple attackers. It requires a good deal of technical skill and strategy to do well. Ukes have to be on their toes to avoid collisions and injuries, since throws are sometimes not well-delivered or are directed towards other ukes or obstacles.
ironphoenix: (so deep)
( Aug. 24th, 2007 08:19 pm)
Well, that's interesting: I just taught my second aikido class in as many weeks, this one a weapons class with three other students. (The previous one was a basics class with only one other student, during which we worked on techniques for his upcoming grading. Before that, I'd taught once, about two years ago, with four students.) I taught a few staff disarms (jo-tori) and throws (jo-nage); it seemed to go over well enough.

I'm still processing the experience of teaching in this context. Overall, I think it's a good thing; I'm just trying to understand the effect it's having on me and on my practice.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Jun. 16th, 2006 09:15 am)
Well, I upgraded to the new version of the Quartus software yesterday, and my simulations are running. Yay, I can do productive work again!

I bruised a lower rib or something yesterday at aikido, so it hurts to laugh or sneeze. Nobody say anything funny today.

[ profile] soul_diaspora and I are going to see Cirque du Soleil's show Quidam tonight, and we've been led to expect great things from those who've already seen it.

And, in a little while, my department is doing a whirlwind "everybody explain what you're working on and how it helps the company in 3 minutes or less" meeting. It should be interesting, but I doubt it'll finish on time.


ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)


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