Monday Night at the Dojo 1/29

Aikidokas: John, Keith, Martin, Shiela, Kim, and Leonard.

I stayed off the mat tonight. I was tempted to get on it, but decided not to. I wondering if getting on the mat, doing the stretching, etc. would speed up the healing. If I don't get on the mat Wednesday, it'll be Monday before it happens. I've got to go to a Master Gardener Plant Sale Saturday morning to get some blueberry bushes.

So, since I wasn't on the mat, I videotaped the session. If I'm not on the mat Wednesday, I'll do the same. I'm kind of hoping to make a "what to expect from a night at our dojo" video. We'll see what happens.

Aftermath: Almost got my brown belt tonight, but it was the wrong size. :(



The day was gorgeous enough, and the cabin fever was high enough, that we went out caching. I had to reload my Palm completely before our venture as it had been without battery power for a good couple of months.

The weather was great, but the ground was still fairly soggy. We didn't expect Jack to be much interested in getting his paws wet, but he was quite enthusiastic about getting out in the wide, wet world.

We found 5 caches: One Degree of Separation - DocDean, The cache at San Joaquin, Spicy Pepper 1, B&B's Great Reception, and B&B's Prairie Dog Park. This was a nice turnaround to our previous poor showing the last time we went out.

Got home and Kim gave the boys baths. They'd gleefully tromped through the water and were very likely to start smelling soon. They promptly sacked out for the rest of the day. It's good to be able to tire out pups.


Saturday at the Dojo 1/27

Aikidokas: Tim and Rob.

I just went to photograph any happenings since I'm staying off the mat for a bit.

The results can be found here.


Cinnamon rolls

I tried to make cinnamon rolls a couple of time this week, but had had no luck. Testing the yeast revealed that it needed to be replaced. I use instant yeast, not the active dry stuff that most recipes call for. My usual cookbook, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, uses that in its recipes so that's what I buy. It comes in bricks similar to what you can get coffee in, so there's a fair amount and it lasts a while, so I've gotten used to buying it.

Anyway. I picked up a new brick after aikido on Wednesday and made the rolls last night. I'm, glad that the dough was just rising when my in-laws' car wreck occurred or it would have been another failed attempt.

They completed baking around 10:15 pm and we each had one. Everyone enjoyed them. I even thought they were half-decent. The dough was good. I probably should have put in more cinnamon-sugar and raisins would have been nice. I couldn't find any raisins while rolling them out, though.

I didn't try one this morning to see how they hold up. I guess I'll have to see if anyone had one this morning and get their opinions. I'd hoped to get a picture of the entire batch to put up here, but the wreck threw off my thinking.

At least they're not hurt.

My in-laws came into town yesterday for a 3 day stay to visit the dentist and join us at a meeting with the builder for the apartment. About the time I would normally head out to aikido, they were on their way to a local furniture store and then the grocery store.

While sitting in a center left turn lane to go to the furniture store, someone came along and ran into them head-on. My in-laws were stopped and the other vehicle was just getting started, so the impact was not high speed. Even so, their car will need, at least: a new front passenger door, right front fender, front bumper, radiator.

They, thank goodness, were not seriously hurt. The airbags did not deploy, so there are no related injuries. The only thing they complained about last night were one sore knee each. I hope today brings no further aches.

The lady that ran into them said she hadn't been in an accident since 2 months after she got her license which was probably about 20 years ago.

I'm glad I was at home and not at aikido so I could go pick them up and help them finish their shopping.


Wednesday Night at the Dojo 1/24

Aikidokas: Tim, John, Raj, Keith, Oliver, Shiela, and Joey. Not sure what brought Raj out of the woodwork again. Had to check a couple of times and make certain I was in the right place.

Ukemi: ok.

The Walk: we did one normal and then we did one where we went right side then left side instead of the normal left side then right side. It wasn't too bad until the last couple of stones. My mind blew at that point.

Releases: Worked with John.

Techniques: Worked with John. We worked at 3-step distance tonight. That made a huge difference in the techniques. My entries went to hell in a handbasket, throwing the rest of the technique off as well. On my entries I'd run into John's fingers, I didn't get around them for the butterfly. I think this was affecting my ability to "commit" to techniques.

Kotegaeshi: went ok. I need to lean on uke more as I make my pivot. Also need to push for gake, not yank.

Kotehineri: ran this once. Entry was bad, but the rest of the technique improved.

Tenkai-kote-hineri: Need to work on reduce the floweriness of the takedown pivot. And the transition from getting uke on his toes to the takedown pivot.

Shihonage: I had a tendency to do San-honage. Shihonage is a four-step technique. I need to complete all four steps.

Randori: John and I then worked on randori for a little while. It went ok until the end. John was using a lot of force and trying to get me to realize that and counter it by letting the force flow. I was using muscle. He then thought to "teach a lesson" by counter my muscle with his muscle. He got me into a bit of a wrist crank that got me to yell out.

I stepped off the mat to assess the damage. I guessed that I probably wouldn't know until this morning. And that's the case. Last night the wrist was a little sore. This morning the shoulder, arm and wrist are a little sore. The pinky and ring fingers on my left hand are a little numb. That indicates a re-aggravation of my long-time shoulder weakness. I had managed to avoid a repeat of this little injury for about 6 or 7 months.

Aftermath: I'll be off the mat for a few days. I'll guess that Monday looks like a good return day. It'd be nice to make it on Saturday, but the in-laws are in town so I might stay off the mat. Ibuprofen will make an appearance in my life for the next couple of days.

At least I'll be able to work on web pages and baking bread for a couple of days.


Tuesday Night at the Dojo 1/23

No aikidokas.

The weather was bad, but I went anyway, just in case one of the white belts showed up. Nobody showed up, so I used the time to organize and inventory the gis, belts, etc. that we have in the back.

Need to get some more rubber bands to tie up the belts.

At the movies

THX-1138: 3

George Lucas' first major film, I think.

It barely made a 3.

The story of a man trying to escape a very insulated, controlled, underground society.

Minimalist sets in some areas. I was impressed with some of the vehicles he used. They looked like high dollar sports cars.

I never felt I really connected with the plot. Robert Duvall had very little dialogue as the lead actor. I'm sure the minimalist dialogue was related to the fact that the society was very rigidly controlled - even speech did not happen very freely.

I was amazed that the society let children play in the one scene that they show of children.

Kim would not have enjoyed it. I can't really say I *enjoyed* it, but I'm glad I watched it.


Monday Night at the Dojo 1/22

Aikidokas: Randy, Martin, Oliver, Shiela, Kim, and Leonard.

Ukemi: Not bad. Worked on popping up. Improve on this a bit and I'll work on tumbleweeds some more.

The Walk: nothing unusual.

Releases: Worked with Oliver.

Techniques: with Oliver.

We had a visitor in the dojo from Connecticut. He'd moved down recently and is looking for a dojo. Sensei Raymond asked Oliver and I to demonstrate 1-10 for him. I tori'd and Oliver uke'd. It went ok.

We then moved on to 11-14.

Kotehineri: went ok. Not confident in it yet, but that will come.

Kote-gaeshi: Not tonight.

Tenkai-kote-hineri: Spent a fair bit of time on this one, working the entry. I'm not certain the transition to the pin is correct yet.

Shiho-nage: Neither of us are getting a good transition out of the initial off-balance. Somehow our working hand position is not generating a "crank" on uke before the pivot to gake. Randy demonstrated this quite a bit, but we were being addle-headed and not capable of grasping.

Aftermath: Back home for an episode of Studio 60. Finally, a new episode.


Can you see me now?

After getting our house re-roofed in December, the reception on our TV went South. Way South.

This was due to getting the decking replaced with some thermal shielding decking. It's essentially aluminum-backed plywood. I looked up the stuff prior to getting the roof done and saw that there were occurrences of people getting much worse TV reception from in-attic antennas once the new stuff was up.

I'd hoped that we would not be subjected to that result. Alas, 'twas not to be.

I've had it on my list of things to do for a couple of weeks to move the antenna from the house attic to the garage attic. The garage did not get re-roofed and has plain plywood decking.

Steps to accomplish the task:

1. See if the garage had a spot for the antenna
2. Remove antenna/pole/wire from house
3. Install antenna/pole in garage
4. Wire up the antenna

It all went well until step 4. The prospect of threading coax from the garage through a very long, tight space into the house was not good. Kim was up in the attic, examining the very tight space to thread wire, and we determined it was not do-able.

I then remembered that the house had been wired for cable when we bought it. Cable uses coax. Cable has been run from outside to the attic of the house. Therefore, there will be cable running from the outside, likely through the garage, into the house.

Step 4a. Find cable wiring in attic
Step 4b. Find cable wiring in garage
Step 4c. Get cable wiring in garage disconnected from cable connections and ready for antenna
Step 4d. Buy cable coupling device
Step 4f. Install coupling device in attic
Step 4g. Test the two cable wires in the attic and see which provides a good picture
Step 5. Enjoy the AFC Champoinship Football game in HiDef.


Total cost: 2.5 hours of work. $3.56 for a pair of coax couplers.


Saturday at the Dojo 1/20

Aikidokas: Tim, Rob, Keith, Oliver, Kim, Joey, TJ, Leonard, and Michelle.

Ukemi: Not bad.

The Walk: nothing unusual.

Releases: Worked with Rob. The theme for the day was "working with someone my own height". It threw changes into everything.

Techniques: Worked with Rob.


The main tweak was on our first off-balances. We had to adjust our off-balances by about 2 inches to get uke broken down. I also noticed on Gyakugamea-ate that my center was pointing a little in toward uke and not straight ahead. Those two little tweaks, if we'd discovered them early on, would have made all of the techniques work well. That we came across them at all was a good thing.

Aftermath: Meeting about the Nov. Judo tournament later. On-line registration discussion, etc.


At the movies

Howl's Moving Castle: 3

Adaptation of a Diana Wynn Jones book, and one I had on my list for a while.

The only problems I had with it were the occasional problem of the lips not matching the speaking. Drives me nuts. Also, we have no indication as to why Merkl is working with Howl. No backstory for the boy.

Even Kim enjoyed it.


Thursday Night at the Dojo 1/18

Aikidokas: Oliver.

Ukemi: Not bad.

The Walk: did it once normally and then once doing the "stones" in reverse order. That was really strange. We stopped at one point and thought for about 10 seconds as to which one was next in reverse order. Good mental challenge.

Releases: Trying to get 90 degrees to line of force and allow uke to rotate me around as opposed to making the pivot part of my action.


Kote-gaeshi: spent some time working through it. With just us, it was a bit of a struggle. We tried to keep from calling Sensei out on the mat as his doctor has ordered him to stay off the mat for at least 3 weeks. We did have to call him out a couple of times. I needed help in ukeing and we both needed help as tori. We pushed it to just before gake. Neither of us felt like taking it to the actual fall, as we're both relatively inexperienced at it.

Tenkai-kote-hineri: Footwork, footwork and more footwork. Gotta use the correct feet to get the off balances. Interesting possibility if you end up beyond parallel to uke: just drop their arm to the ground and the follow it, willingly. Bizarre.

Aftermath: none, of note.


Wednesday Night at the Dojo 1/17

Aikidokas: Tim, John, Martin, and Shiela.

Ukemi: Got some help from John on pop-up ukemi.

The Walk: nothing unusual.

Releases: Worked with John. Really tried to work on getting off-line. The additional distance John supplies as uke really helps. We both had issues, fixes were simple, but will probably need to be relearned next time. :) Let uke take you around, don't force the pivots. The forced pivots come into play later in Yon Kata.

Techniques: Worked with John and Martin.

Kotehineri: Worked with John. He did some explaining of hand positions, etc. that helped.

Tenkai Kotehineri: Worked with John. Worked on timing and feeling when my next step needs to happen. I have a tendency to think I'm early when I'm just barely not late.

Kotegaeshi: spent a lot of time working on it with Martin. About 30 minutes, I think. I made some progress and am now getting a throw on about 50% of attempts. Key factors to prevent me from getting the throw: being early going from first off-balance to second off-balance, grabbing uke's wrist instead of letting it flow into my hands as we transition from first off-balance to second off-balance. Must also remember to extend out and not down for the throw.

Aftermath: nothing of note


At the movies

Since the dojo was closed due to weather:

Jet Li's Fearless: 3

The movie starts out trying to make the protagonist to be fairly shallow. It becomes apparent he's going to have to go through some sort of transformation in order to be a likable character. That happens when his family gets killed.

The film does not really cover any of the training that Huo Yuanjia (historically, at least) gets from his dad.

It does cover some of his more famous combats, but seems to take a little license with his famous last battle. It does not mention his battle with TB or the fact that some of the treatments for TB back then could likely have poisoned him.

All in all, not a bad flick.


Monday Night at the Dojo 1/15

Aikidokas: Randy, Martin, Keith, Shiela, Leonard, and TJ.

Cold mat. Cold dojo. At least for Texas. 56 degrees when we started. Last time I checked, after the heater'd been on for a while, it was 60. A majority of folks wore socks while on the mat. It made life bearable even though the footing was a little less certain.

Ukemi: Slightly off tonight. No discernable reason.

The Walk: nothing unusual.

Releases: Worked with Martin. Minor tweaks.

Techniques: with Martin

Kote-gaeshi: Managed to get some throws on this one. And my follow-up improved. Randy suggested getting uke's arm *outside* the working leg as opposed to between the legs to improve the tension and speed up the lock.

Mae-otoshi: Got a couple of throws right-sided. Left-sided the brain was happily doing a butterfly-dance instead of aikido.

Randori: We did a little hand randori for a while. Good stuff.

Aftermath: TJ's got some amazing joints. We're going to have to be careful with armlocks on him as you can practically spin his arm out of socket without causing a pain reaction. Rain, sleet predicted for overnight did not occur.


Friday Night at the Dojo 1/12

Aikidokas: Tim, Keith, Rob, Robert, Oliver, Shiela, and Kim.

Shiela and Kim were off on the side getting in final repetitions before Shiela's demonstration.

Robert and I did the walk and releases together.

I then went scouring the dojo looking for the green belts that Sensei's had around for Shiela. I had no luck. They may have disappeared when we had the dojo cleanup party.

The demonstration went well. She seemed to have everything well in hand. I was watching Kim to see how she was handling being an uke, so was not completely attentive to Shiela.

She got awarded her Yonkyu. Go Shiela!

Aftermath: Nothing of note


Thursday Night at the Dojo

Aikidokas: Oliver and Shiela.

Was the only aikidoka for a while so I spent 15 - 20 minutes each on ukemi and the Walk.

Ukemi: Not bad. Working on popping up smoothly after the falls as opposed to just landing on the mat. It seems I ping my shoulders more often if I'm trying to pop up. Not sure why. It was nice having the time to just roll around.

The Walk: repetition, repetition, repetition. Did it a number of times. Did it some more when Oliver and Shiela arrived.

I sat as joseki for Oliver and Shiela to practice the demonstration.

Aftermath: Back to the dojo tonight for the actual demonstration. Might take Saturday off.


Wednesday Night at the Dojo 1/10

Aikidokas: Tim, John, Raj, Keith, Martin, Oliver, Shiela, Joey, Michelle, and TJ ( a new student). Wow, a big crowd. Not sure what the reason was. Not sure what brought Raj out of the woodwork.

Ukemi: I was introducing TJ to the joys of ukemi. It's good to learn how to teach the stuff.

The Walk: nothing unusual. Tim made Raj do the counting on the second iteration. Raj has a reputation (somewhat legitimately earned) of being an non-rhythmic counter and, occasionally, forgetting the Japanese numbers. He did fine this time.

Releases: Worked with Martin.

Techniques: Worked with Martin.

Kotegaeshi: spent a lot of time working on it and managed to get some throws from it. It's still very raw, but I managed to get throws on left and right sides. I started off with confused active hands and feet. I'd been doing the footwork at work when I was heating lunch or water for tea, but I wasn't incorporating the hands. So, I had the footwork down for a right-sided techniques, but my brain thought it needed to be a left-hand technique at the same time. I think I've got that straightened out now and I know the adjustment I need to make for the off-mat repetition.

Kotehineri: this is just Oshi-taoshi with a slightly altered hand position. Instead fo a push with the hand at the wrist, you place your thumb on the inside of uke's wrist and 3 fingers on the back of uke's hand (Sensei likes to have the index finger be pointing in the direction of the push). Footwork is king on this technique.

Aftermath: Another new student. Cool! When I started, I was the only white belt. We currently have 6, 1 of whom has not been seen since the start of the Christmas shopping season because of her job. It may mean more time is spent teaching than training, but I'm cool with that if it means the dojo is a livelier place.

Took a couple of Aleve before going to bed. Joints seem to be complaining a little after 9 sessions of aikido in the past 10 days. Probably 3 more sessions of aikido this week. And my right wrist was a little wonky. I think I tweaked it helping Kim at the library a while ago, and maybe an upcoming weather change is affecting it.

My left wrist was a reliable weather change indicator for a few years about 20 years ago. I've had two surgeries on it and until it completely "healed" it could senses barometric pressure changes.


Tuesday Night at the Dojo 1/9

Aikidokas: Oliver, and Shiela.

Ukemi: Not bad. Tumbleweed rolls need help.

The Walk: nothing unusual.

Worked with Shiela and Oliver on getting her ready for her demonstration. Kim had to work so was unable to uke. Oliver uke'd instead as he's closer to Shiela's height than I am. She's looking ready.

Aftermath: Pinged shoulder from warm-up ukemi. Nothing serious.


At the movies

From sometime during the Christmas break:

Memoirs of a Geisha: 4

Loved the cinematography.

Monday Night at the Dojo 1/8

Aikidokas: Randy, Martin, Oliver, Shiela, Kim, and Leonard.

Ukemi: Not bad. Tumbleweed rolls need help.

The Walk: nothing unusual.

Releases: Worked with Oliver.

Watched Shiela and Kim work on demonstration stuff. It's tough for me to find faults watching currently. Even tougher when it's my wife.

Aftermath: None of note.


At the movies

This will be an occasional topic with movies seen either at the theatre or newly viewed on DVD. Don't know if I'll be commenting on the movies much or not, but I'll be keeping track of the movies I see.

So, to recap some movies seen in the past few weeks for the first time (that eliminates PotC2).

Rating system: 4 (I'd be happy to see it again), 3 (glad I saw it), 2 (wasted my time), 1 (they wasted their time making the movie).

American Splendor: 3
A Scanner Darkly: 3
Triplets of Bellville: 1
Amelie: 3

I was really expecting better from Triplets. Just a little too bizarre for me and the meal scene in the Triplets apartment went on faaaaaaaaaar too long.


Saturday Morning at the Dojo 1/6

Aikidokas: Tim, Martin, Keith, Rob, Shiela, Kim, and Michelle.

Ukemi: Not bad.

The Walk: nothing unusual.

Techniques: Worked with Keith and Martin. We did a little work on Tenkai-kote-hineri and Sumi-otoshi. Went to completion on Tenkai, but just worked on the entry for Sumi. I had a heck of a time on Martin's left arm getting Tenkai back after he took the fall. It turns out his left side is much less flexible than his right. Lots of folks said that Tenkai on the arm-bar is just icing. Mainly they're looking for control on the arm bar.

Aftermath: Looking forward to a day off from aikido. Determined that the techniques for the Nikkyu test are Kote-hineri, Kote-gaeshi, Tenkai-kote-hineri and Shiho-nage. Don't have to worry about that for quite some time, though.

Friday Night at the Dojo 1/5

Aikidokas: Tim, Randy, John, Raj, Keith, Shiela, and Kim.

I helped Shiela and Kim work through their demonstration some more.

Aftermath: Dinner with Shiela and Keith. Sensei was interested in having me join him and the other black belts at their usual Friday Night haunt, but Shiela can't handle the smoke there, so we went elsewhere.


Thursday Night at the Dojo 1/4

Aikidokas: Martin, Shiela, and Kim.

Ukemi: Not bad. Big fall on the left side I'm doing more garuma than not. I need to fix that. Tried some tumbleweeds. Ugly! Need help.

The Walk: nothing unusual.

Martin and I sat as joseki so that Kim and Shiela could get some experience demonstrating in front of an audience. They did all right. They did fall over laughing a couple of times.

Techniques: Worked with Martin. We did a little work on Shihonage and Maetoshi. I need to make certain I've got a decent crank on the wrist.

Aftermath: Probably back to the dojo tonight and tomorrow for more practice for Kim and Shiela. Aikido 6 days in a row. Wow.


Wednesday Night at the Dojo 1/3

Aikidokas: Raymond, Tim, Keith, Martin, Rob, Shiela, Kim, and Leonard.

Ukemi: Not bad. Big fall on the left side I'm doing more garuma than not. I need to fix that.

The Walk: nothing unusual.

Releases: Worked with Martin. He had some tweaks for me that I can't remember at the moment. I wasn't getting completely around on a couple of them, made an adjustment and they worked better.

Techniques: Worked with Martin and Keith. We did some seiza work. Just one technique, I don't know what it's called so I'll describe it. Uke comes up with a foot near your knee. He grabs your nearest shoulder and pulls tore up off the ground. Tore's response is to rise up, moving the hand nearest uke's leg to just above uke's knee on the inside. As tore rises up, pressure on uke's leg increases and uke falls. Very neat.

We tried it with two attackers as well. It works in that situation, too. You just dealer with the attacker who is exerting more force first, remembering to drop back to seiza to improve the technique.

I also worked on shihonage with Keith and Martin. A nice session of intensive work. Hand positioning on the first off-balance and at the wrist pin are important. My first attempt was for the "big 10" version of shihonage as I didn't realize the Ju Nana Han Kata version was a wrist pin.

The wrist pin seems to work best if tore's thumb/forefinger webbing is just a little closer to uke's fingertips as opposed to being right in the wrist joint. The last two fingers on tore's hand need to be involved as well. If I can get leverage on the hand joint of uke's middle finger a large amount of control occurs. Also, it is better the closer uke's hand is pinned to his shoulder as opposed to his neck.

Aftermath: Shiela will be testing for green belt on the 12th. She and Kim will be working together over the next few nights to get her ready.


Tuesday Night at the Dojo 1/2

Aikidokas: Shiela, and Kim

I spent the evening working with the ladies on their releases and techniques. My pacing of the class was a little slow. I didn't get through the first 5 techniques with them.

Aftermath: none of note


Back at the grind

The winter vacation is over. I had a couple of days in which to get things accomplished, but most of the time was predestined for getting ready, taking part in, or recovering from family events.

The tree, 3 types of cookies and gifts all needed to be prepared before Christmas day. We'd done precious little baking in the preceding weeks, so I did a rash of baking on one day to get me partially in the mood for the holiday. I did some late night package wrapping and some constant "hope the item arrives in time for Christmas" worrying.

We had Christmas at our place and then at my sister's place. The next day I helped my in-laws figure out to work one of their gifts and dropped the truck off for some more repair work.

I think I had Wed., Thurs., and Fri. to do some stuff not really scheduled. I got some work on taxes done, some entering of books into my database and some filing of books into their proper shelves. Did some more shopping and watched the completely forgettable "Triplets of Bellville". Also went to aikido on Tues., Wed., and Thurs.

Saturday was up to Plano for the big family Christmas. Sunday: drive back home with a stop at the in-laws for more consultation on their new VCR/DVD device.

Monday was the dojo New Years and then trying to help Kim get rid of her fever. Chicken broth and a bunch of afghans seemed to do the trick.

I'd like another week of time off. Please?

Monday Afternoon at the Dojo 1/1

Aikidokas: Raymond, Tim, Randy, Jeff, Gail, Keith, Loreta(?), Leonard, Joey, Sheila, Michelle and Kim.

New Year's Party brought out a bunch of folks.

Ukemi: Not bad.

The Walk: nothing unusual.

Releases: Worked with Kim.

Techniques: Worked with Kim. Uke'd for #1 and #2.

Aftermath: Good food. Good friends. Good aikido. What more could you ask for to start off the year? Sake? Got that too. Good stuff.