Thursday Night at the Dojo 6/29

Attendees: Raj, Keith, Robert, Sheila, Oliver and Kim (my lovely and talented spouse).

Ukemi: Left side was a little off again tonight.

Releases: Worked with Sheila. The vast, and I do mean vast, height differential (she's 5'0" and I'm 6'5") made this an interesting experiment. A lot of things have to be tweaked for the differences.

Techniques: Spent some of the time introducing my wife to the footwork for Shomen-ate. Fraught with dangerous possibilites.

Spent the rest of the time ukeing for Oliver on Shomen-ate. He showed marked improvement by the end of the evening and managed to throw me 3 times on the right side. We spent less time on the left side, but that's per usual. He's trying overcome TKD training and the footwork associated therewith.

Aftermath: I forgot about the big toe drag I had on a Shomen-ate on Wednesday. It really wrenched the toe. Walking without the support of a shoe adds a little pain to my life. On the mat it was ok, thankfully. Also discovered 3 bruises on my forearms. More than likely they are the result of Ushiro-ate work on Wednesday. Nothing else is likely to cause them.

Kim's aching all over apparently.

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Wednesday Night at the Dojo 6/28 - Yonkyu!

Attendees: Randy, John, Raj, Keith, Robert, Stanley, and Oliver. A big crowd.

Ukemi: Not too bad

Releases: Worked with Stanley and Keith. Full sets with both.

John came into the dojo and asked, before the session started, if I was testing for green belt. I told him: "Not to my knowledge." My knowledge was faulty.

They wanted me to demonstrate for my green belt. Ack!

I spent most of the evening going through the 5 techniques with Keith, who was to be my uke for the demonstration. We must have gone through all of them 10 times each. Keith's main suggestion was to get the first off-balance, and it helped. My Gyakugamea-ate was pretty awful, I hope I wasn't killing Keith. I was getting some nice elevation of uke on Agamai-ate, so my timing was on.

I did a dress rehearsal, then they gave me 15 minutes to work on anything I needed to, so I spent the time on Gyakugamea-ate and Agamai-ate. Then Keith had me go through all 5 a couple more times.

The demonstration. I had to demonstrate the Walk, the 8 releases, and the first 5 techniques. I got through the walk okay, thanks to Keith joining me in the demonstration. My mind was blown, so I needed a little help.

The releases went ok. I mucked up one, but did not improperly react and subsequently successfully executed what I was supposed to do.

After I was done, the black belts got together and talked for a long, long time. at least it seemed that way to me. They eventually bestowed the rank of Yonkyu upon me. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to wait for the belt as the dojo did not have one in my size.

Aftermath: Tired and sweaty, but happy.

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Rocky Mountain High

Spent the weekend in Estes Park, Colorado celebrating Kim's parents' 50th wedding anniversary. The folks at the "Y" wanted to throw a little part for them, so we flew up and joined in the festivities.

MIL is still a little under the weather, so she and FIL were not able to join us for as many activities as they would have liked.

We flew into Denver Friday afternoon, grabbed a rental car and drove into the mountains. They were gorgeous, as always. We visited with MIL and then grabbed dinner at Sweet Basilico Cafe, a great Italian joint in town.

Saturday morning, we went geocaching around the area and found 8 caches. We tried a couple more, but didn't realize they were disabled until we'd driven to the general area.

Saturday evening was dinner at Orlando's. My steak was good, the lobster was not terribly impressive. I've got to stick to my usual prohibition of eating seafood too far from the coast.

Sunday noon was brunch at the Pine Room on the "Y" grounds. Quite nice.

A relaxing afternoon, and then the party at one of the lodges on the "Y" grounds. 60-some-odd folks signed in, so we think around 80 or 90 folks were actually there. Cake, ice cream, etc. were served. Tons were left over.

Monday morning: packing and visiting with the folks.

Monday afternoon: drive to the airport.

I had a nice, pleasant encounter with TSA while going through security. I was in my minimal travelling set up: shorts, t-shirt, and Teva sandals. I had no keys on me. No wallet. No coins. Just driver's license and boarding pass. My carry-on luggage was a computer and passed through the scanner just fine.

The lady directing folks through the scanners recommended that I take off my shoes. Having gone through the scanners in Houston in the same getup with no problems, I said "no." She told me to walk through the scanner, and no beep occurred. She then directed me to the wanding prison and called for someone to "wand" me.

Kim heard the guy, as he was walking over to me, state: "I'll make him take off his shoes" in a rather aggressive tone of voice.

He came over to the prison, escorted me out and told me to sit down in one of the handy-dandy chairs. He then told me to take off my shoes. When I did, he handed them off to one of his flunkies to run them through x-ray. After handing over my shoes, he instructed me to lift both of my feet so he could see the soles. Next came the standing wand session. He ran the wand over me a couple of times, getting nary a blip on the wand. He looked disappointed.

My shoes were returned to me and I was allowed to put them back on. I should have grabbed the guys name and badge number, but I didn't think of that until later.

What I thought of to do for future travel is to write, on the bottom of my feet, "Hey Sexy" just in case it happens again.

At times during the weekend I felt like an aikidoka: we kept driving around in circles. (aikido humor)

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Yoji Kondo seminar

This is just too cool!

We're going to have Yoji Kondo at our dojo for a seminar on July 8. The seminar will run from 9am until 5pm, if not later. The cost is $50. He will be discussing the relationship between judo and aikido, among other things. It will not be a discussion only seminar, so bring your gi.

We hope to videotape the seminar, or at least portions of it, but I don't know if we have Sensei Kondo's permission yet.

Not only is Sensei Kondo an aikidoka, but he's also an astrophysicist and a science fiction author. An amazing triad of interests that parallel mine fairly well.

Sensei Kondo was the translator for Karl Geis when he was communicating with Kenji Tomiki while setting up Fugakukai Aikido in Houston. He was also an instructor in my hometown in the 70's, so this area is not unfamiliar to him. He was actually employed by JSC for a number of years. There is the chance that he worked with/knew my father.

He also taught judo with a man named David Drake. I'm not certain that it's the same D. Drake who is a science fiction author, but I'm going to look into it.

If you want more information on this, drop me a line. The short notice could not be helped.

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Wednesday Night at the Dojo 6/21

Attendees: Tim, Keith, Robert, Stanley, and Oliver (a friend of Keith's that has decided to take up the art).

Ukemi: Left side was a little off.

Releases: Worked with Stanley. He gave some good suggestions: need to get down lower on 5 and 7.

Techniques: Spent most of the evening working with Stanley. We went throught the first 5 twice each on both sides.

I spent a good portion of the night as uke for folks attempting a shomen-ate. With my height, the safe off-balances are different. The approach to use is to take control of my arm at the elbow instead of the wrist. This allows tori to actually get an off-balance and be able to throw me quickly. The throw happens fairly quickly with this approach.

Robert threw me on his second attempt with this approach.

I was improperly prepared for a couple of the falls I took, but I managed to make it through the evening without too much damage. I probably uke'd for 30 or more attempts at shomen-ate.

Aftermath: A little head snap on a couple of falls, so I took some naproxen when I got home. No real problems, just some overall aches that are related to not stretching enough before volleyball on Tuesday.

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Another season down the tubes

Another volleyball season has come and gone. It was a disaster results-wise, but still a fun season. 6-21, counting games and not matches.

Last night we lost 19-21, 16-21 and 14-16. So it was very close, especially considering that we were playing with 5 players and the other team had 6 and the other team was the first place team.

I don't know what it was, but my hits were fairly effective. I think I had 5 or 6 and most of those landed in front of the 10 foot line. I only hit one down the line, the rest of them were cross-court shots.

I dug a couple of hard hit spikes as well. My serving has not been good for a couple of seasons. I think it's because of a strained muscle in my forearm that never gets a good chance to heal.

Next season starts in a couple of weeks, I think.

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Monday Night at the Dojo 6/19

Attendees: Sensei Randy, Keith, and Stanley.

Another different night at the dojo.

Ukemi: left side was a little off, but not too bad.

We started with the Walk facing into the center of the mat. Then we did another cycle, facing 90 degrees to the right of the center.

The rest of the evening was spent in multiples: everyone against the man in the middle. I think I'll probably shorten that to MITM if we do it again.

The first cycle was defending against strikes and grabs. Mind-blowing stuff even when you know who's attacking next.

The second cycle added knives (rubber) into the mix. I always got cut. OR would have if they had been real knives.

The third cycle, I think, was more of a free-for-all style. Attackers attacked in no certain order, as soon as the previous attacker was engaged the next attacker could start his attack. Once I got a feel for it, I really liked using ushiro-ate when I could.

We ended the evening with some hand randori. I did not do well in that. Maybe showing lack of exposure, or maybe brain fry from the rest of the evening.

Aftermath: Sweat. Lots of it.

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Weekend Woodworking

Kim was off at work on Saturday, so I spent some of the day on hurricane preparations. Cutting 1/2" plywood for all but our two biggest windows. The approach I use for window prep is to use Plylox clips. I know the guy who invented them, I worked on their web site, and even did a presentation at a local city council meeting for them about 10 years ago. So, I'm not unbiased.

Anyway, I had to cut the plywood to size for the windows. The instructions say to cut 1/4" shorter than the dimension of the opening, but for my windows it had to be 1" shorter. My windows aren't set into the brick far enough. A lot of my windows are the same size, so I was able to stack playwood sheets and cut out multiple windows at the same time.

After the plywood, and with the plywood scraps from the work, I started working on a dog house for our "boys".

The odds of them using it when it's complete? 10:1 against. If they don't use it, the cat probably will.

I've got all but the roof done and I've got to figure out how I want to put that together. This was an off-the-cuff, design it as you go project. And there are no *major* flaws so far.

Sunday was a day for turning some bottle stoppers on the lathe. I managed to get 5 done in about 2 and 1/2 hours. I'm happy with most of them, the one in blood wood turned out nicely. I do need to sharpen my small gouge, but that means firing up the Tormek and it's under a couple of layers of stuff at the moment.

Oh, I also had to clean up a dead rat that was starting to ferment in the garage. Ugh. The trashmen took it away today, I hope.

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Friday Night at the Dojo 6/16

Attendees: Tim, Randy, Keith, and Robert.

The spouse and I stopped by the dojo after running errands. The folks at the dojo have been trying to get me to get her to the dojo to start learning, so I brought her by to watch.

This was higher level class and we got there late, so she didn't get a good taste of what an actual class would be like. But, she's thinking about it. I'm going to try to get her to a semi-normal class next week before she commits so she knows what she's getting into a little better.

Dinner was at Durango's, our favorite Mexican joint. Mmmmmmm, margaritas!

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Wednesday Night at the Dojo 6/14

Attendees: Tim, John, Keith, Robert, and Stanley. Sensei Raymond was there on the sidelines, a day before some surgery.

Ukemi: no major problems

Releases: Dang. Can't remember. That's what I get for waiting so long to post.

Techniques: Spent most of the evening working with Robert, most of the time as uke. Giving him a tall target to work on his techniques. I did some work on my five, with Robert telling me to work at my level. Tim was correcting my ending foot positions. I tend to not end in a "strong" position.

Aftermath: A little twinge in the left shoulder area, but that is a usual ailment and not related, too much, to aikido.

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Monday Night at the Dojo 6/12

Attendees: Randy, Keith, and Robert.

Spent some time with Randy, working on releases.

We spent a good portion of the evening working on getting me ready for my demonstration - still no set date. Keith and Robert were uke for me to work on techniques 1 - 5. Keith was uke for left side and Robert for the right. Then they'd switch the side the uke'd for. I think I ran through each technique three times on each side. I had a little trouble dealing with Robert, as there is a large height difference between us. I had trouble with him on Gedan-ate and Agamai-ate.

I think we did it twice going from 1 to 5 and once going from 5 to 1.

We spent the last little bit of the session doing some hand randori. Trying to change my thinking from trying to spot techniques to trying to spot releases.

Aftermath: Nothing of note.

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Saturday Night at the Dojo 6/10

Attendees: a whole bunch of folks

This was the date of the dojo's semi-annual party (summer version). All dojo students were invited, along with local aikido experts and significant others.

I spent the morning, and most of the afternoon, smoking brisket and chicken. They turned out great. I wish I'd picked up a better quality brisket. It was kind of tough, but it tasted great! So did the chicken. No leftovers. Bummer.

We folded the mat over itself so that we had a large amount of floor space for chairs and tables, yet had room for kids to run and play on a nice, doubly-cushioned mat. Carla and Mike, from the recent seminar were there and they conducted some mini-sessions after everyone was sufficiently lubricated with alcohol.

Unfortunately (not really), the thing most folks wanted to see was how to deal with someone of my size. So, I was uke. Luckily, I was not subjected to falls I hadn't done in the past. Taking falls with a slight buzz (1 beer and 2 alcoholic ciders) was unusual.

Mike presented an interesting technique that I will attempt to describe.

Start to execute a shomen-ate. After the entry, when the off-hand is holding uke off-balance and the strong hand is rotating over to uke's face, move the strong hand under the uke's arm. Place your thumb just inside the elbow, catching the top of the arm with the thumb.

Now, pull your thumb to your center, while allowing your off-hand to move more toward your center, bringing uke's hand with you. As this continues, uke's arm will fold at the elbow and your strong hand will be in a position to catch uke's wrist. Your off-hand will be guiding uke's hand and keeping it in position until your strong hand can secure a hold.

I think this is an alternate entry into shihonage, but I'm not certain if that's the correct name for the technique or not.

Mike did it to me and my first thought was "Sweet!" It was just so cool. The alcohol may have been doing some talking, I don't know.

The party lasted for about 4 hours and a good time was had by all.

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Wednesday Night at the Dojo 6/7

Attendees: Tim, John, Keith, Robert, and Stanley.

Ukemi: did fairly well on both sides.

Releases: With Keith. He's always finding things to fix on my releases because there *are* always things to fix on my releases.

Techniques: Worked on stuff for my demonstration with Keith for a good portion of the session. Took a breather in the middle and uke'd for Keith. We worked through some approaches to dealing with a substantially taller person when you're tori.

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College memory

One of my profs at college told a story about an exam he gave to one of his classes. This was a calculus class, probably 3rd semester calculus.

There were 10 questions on the exam.

All of them multiple choice, with 5 choices.

All of the answers to the exam were "E".

All of the answers to the exam were "None of the above"

Would that, or would that not freak you out?

You're happily going along, figuring out the answer to the first question. You're pretty sure you've got it right and look at the available answers. Hmmmm. It's not on there. Ah, a "None of the above", cool. I'll mark that.

Second question. You're happily going along, figuring out the answer to the first question. You're pretty sure you've got it right and look at the available answers. Hmmmm. It's not on there. I wonder if I'm doing this right? (go back and check first question) (go back and check second question)

etc., etc.

I'd be a basket-case.

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Monday Night at the Dojo 6/5

Attendees: Sensei Ray, Keith, Stanley, and Robert.

A different night at the dojo. Randy sensei was still out of town, and Ray had a headache, so he directed us from off mat.

We did a little of the usual stretching: rolls and falls. We were then directed to spend a good bit of time on the Walk, taking it slow and working on various parts that were giving us trouble. It was good to spend the time working on a couple of the moves and getting the pattern down a little bit better.

Next up was working on some of the releases and figuring out what techniques are possible from each one. I didn't do too well on that.

After that, I paired up with Keith and worked backwards through the techniques I know.

Aftermath: Nothing of note.

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A video I forgot to put up earlier

TenkaiKotehineri. Demonstrated by Robert and Keith.

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It rained most of yesterday.

I was awakened around 4:10 am to the sound of serious rainfall. When I got outside to go to work, our 5" capacity rain gauge was full, so I emptied it. The roads on the way to work weren't too bad, although there were a couple of places with water standing at the curb.

It rained while I was at work, and when I got home, the rain gauge read 1.5". When I left to go to aikido at 6pm, it read 4.5". 3" in about 2 hours.

Most of Houston received around 4" of rain. It appears the Friendswood area took the brunt of the rainfall. We needed it.

It has rained some today, but not nearly as much as it did yesterday.

Mosquitoes should be enjoying this. sigh.

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Wednesday Night at the Dojo 5/31

Attendees: Tim, Randy, John, Keith, and Stanley.

Ukemi: did fairly well on both sides. Senseis are apparently pleased. More on that fruther down the page.

The Walk: Went well. Did it in a circle formation, everyone facing the middle. Strange

Releases: With John. Nice to work with someone my height.

Techniques: John worked with me and introduced me to 3 new techniques: Oshi-taoshi, Ude-gaeshi, and Ude-hineri (respectively, 6, 7 and 8 in the Ju Nana Hon Kata. 6 and 8 require belly-flop falls from uke, so they aren't terribly fun to take. It really helps if you breathe out as you're taking a fall. After working on those for a bit, we went through the first 5. I also went through some of the Bhakwas and through John on one of the moves, but left go of his arm when I should have held on to it. Oops.

After working through all of that, Senseis Tim and Randy wanted to see me go through the 5 techniques in front of them, sort of an impromptu "demonstration." Keith and Stanley sat quietly off to the side of the mat while I was doing this, so it was the atmosphere of a demonstration. John was my uke for this. He threw me a twist when I was supposed to be doing Gyakugamea-ate and blocked it, forcing me to go for Gedan-ate. We also went through Oshi-taoshi, Ude-gaeshi, and Ude-hineri on just the right side. Tim and Randy commented afterward that maybe I should get a green belt with a brown stripe, or some sort of puce colored belt, since I demonstrated some of the nikkyu techniques. lol.

It looks like my demo for green belt will be before the end of June and I'll be working with Keith for my uke. Plenty of time to get nervous.

Aftermath: Left lower back and left ankle are a little sore from volleyball, I think. Almost busted a toe walking around the house after aikido. Need to have the house covered in mats.

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