About The Following Blog

The following blog has been written purely for those wanting a first hand knowledge of what it is like to step into the dojo for the first time as a complete beginner as a Martial Artist. Through practising a Martial Art, you will gain many things such as self-confidence, self-respect and life-long and good friends. I hope this helps you to see into an amazing world of which you have never seen before and that I have had the privilege of belonging to and knowing.
Although I have not put my name or any name to this blog, it does deserve a dedication- a dedication to those who help people to train, who teach, reassure and most important of all- those who never give up, no matter how many times they hit the ground or a mental brick wall, with themselves or others. But above all- those who are ready to begin their own journey, it begins with one step….

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Chapter 20: The Process Of Learning To Take Your Uke's Balance...Suddenly The Penny Drops About Aikido

One of my favourite parts of Tomiki Aikido is Hikkitat. I like it because it is usually during Hikkitat I usually find the purpose to a technique (and as an added bonus you get a really good workout).
At a recent session, one instructor was trying to illustrate how moving off your attacker's centre and taking their balance was a fudamental concept to Aikido. So, to illustrate this we started Hikkitat.
An interesting part to Hikkitat is trying to illustrate to someone who hasn't come across Hikkitat the actual principle behind it. The thing about Hikkitat is that as you effectively 'chase' your partner around the mat, there will be that magical point where as Tori you feel your Uke's point of balance being broken and.. down they go. Success! To be honest, until you feel that 'magic' moment of the point of balance being taken, you won't really understand the true priciple behind Hikkitat.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Chapter 19: Prevention Of Injury...The Responsibility Of Tori Or Uke?

At a recent aiki session we covered the concept of safety when practising as the attacker. The idea being that the person acting as the Uke is more or less entirely responsible for their own safety. I slightly disagreed with a Sengpai that Tori should only have around 5% responsibility for the prevention of injury to Uke, I see it as more like 10% but that's neither here or there.
The point is, injuries do and will occur in Aikido. Firstly, lapses in concentration can cause injury, secondly, resisting a technique and thirdly through Uke's stupidity. Yes, stupidity. Not often, but it does happen I've seen it. In fact, I seen all three of these reasons. One was when I saw a student go into a roll and dislocate their shoulder. Just a freak accident caused through a tiny tiny lapse in concentration really. Another time, I seen students breakfalling with injured backs. And yes before you ask, to date I have had two, no three injuries so far. The first was my own fault, I panicked when someone did Somenati and ended up with slight whiplash. The second, I cracked my shoulder when someone took me far too quickly into a technique, but strangely enough fixed my RSI so I ain't complaining and the third has been a cracked toe nail.
Yep, everyone has a list of injuries as long as their arm. When I was asked at the session if I thought as a beginner that a martial art would be injury free, I could truthfully answer no. I honestly didn't. The fact is my Dad used to do Judo, and had warned me of the injuries that would occur. And I thought, yep, cheers Dad, you're not selling me starting a martial art.
Anyway, I knew my Dad was right. That's why it took me about six months to start a martial art, I was frightened of what might happen. A hard thing to admit and I still am I suppose, given that I've been doing Aikido for 18 months and STILL cannot roll (probably to some fear complex) But Hay Ho.
So, injury. Yes, I entirely agree that I'm responsible for my own safety for injury prevention. But, I have to add, just because someone stiffens half-way through a technique, does that mean as Tori you continue with the technique knowing full well (especially if you are a higher grade then the person you are working with) that it may cause injury? Or do you stop? Where exactly should the line of responsibility of injury prevention be drawn? Personally, I think you should take care of your Uke but also take care of yourself and not lay blame at anyone's door should you be injured. Rest, and get back to training, not easy...but if you don't get back on the mat, you never will. I would never have got back on that mat after the shoulder and neck injuries if I hadn't have quelled the little voice of fear inside my head and just got on with training. And I'm glad I did.

Note: An interesting idea was brought up during Hikkitat at a recent session. If you find that as Tori you have an Uke that resists during Hikkitat it is YOUR responsibility to do another technique. Interesting concept really, given that it is primarily the responsibility of Uke for their own safety but I guess that as Hikkitat can get quite dangerous given that you and your Uke are fighting for technique this is a sensible idea to have.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Chapter 18: The Feeling Of Pain....An Essential Part Of Training?

I recently attended an aiki session where we had someone who was already an orange belt in Karate/Kickboxing start their first session in aiki. The immediate thing that struck me was how this student flinched when myself and another Sengpai started discussing the usual pre-session talk on different bruises obtained from the previous session. I tend bruise real easily, particularly on the wrists so this has become a natural part of life for me that at some point or another during the week I have several aiki-related bruises. Its no biggy, I see it as part of the package of training in a martial art.
But seeing this other student flinch made me wonder... how painful should a contact sport like a marital art be? In Aikido, the application of the different wrist locks make it impossible for you not to escape feeling some pain at one point during a session. To prevent injury obviously, you tap twice on the mat or body in submission when the pain appears. But I often wonder should this be done as the pain is felt or when it becomes unbearable?. To be honest, I do a mixture of the two and I will explain why.
Around two years ago, before I started Aikido I developed RSI in my right wrist so therefore wrist pain is something that I am used to. So, where to draw the line when dealing with pain in training?
I like to think that although pain is part of training in Aikido, it is important to LISTEN to your body, if it hurts, tap out. If injured, rest. You know, common sense things really.
A useful book recommended to me by a fellow student was 'Angry White Pyjamas' by Robert Twigger. I really enjoyed this book. It give an insight into what it is like to push yourself beyond your limits and the experience of pain alongside this. After all, isn't that what a martial art helps you to achieve, obtaining a new physical and spiritual level for yourself?