Monday Night at the Dojo 7/30

Aikidokas: Sensei John and Kim.

Ukemi: Decent. I was doing some rolling up on my knees on some of the falls. I'm not certain why. I need to make certain it doesn't become a habit.

The walk: as usual.

Releases: Doing some of the releases on Kim is a struggle. Her height makes getting under her arm a bit of a challenge.

Techniques: We spent the remaining time on Kim's Ude-hineri (#8). She made a marked improvement by the time we were done.

We then spent some time on my Sumi-otoshi. I actually got through the technique. At 2/3 speed. Now for more repetition.

Aftermath: none.


At the movies

Happy Feet: 3

This felt like Lord of the Ring on ice. Elijah Wood starred as the protagonist and he had to go on a long journey and "defeat" the folks killing all of the food supply. He killed them with his cuteness rather than throwing a ring into a mountain.

It wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be.


Saturday Night at the Dojo 7/28

No aikido, but the annual dojo summer party.

I spent most of the day in front of the grill smoking chicken and brisket. And, if I do say so myself, it turned out fantastic. We've still got a few pieces of leftover chicken around, so I get to have some good food for lunch.

Good food. Good fellowship. A good time was had by all.


Wednesday Night at the Dojo 7/25

Aikidokas: Sensei Tim

Ukemi: Decent. Continuing to working on popping up after the fall.

The walk: as usual.

Releases: Explorations of different off-balances, working to the corners, etc.

Spent the rest of the evening working on knife defenses.

Aftermath: none of note.


Volleyball 2-1

We're back in the competitive league. This week we had two women playing with us, so things went well. I don't remember the scores except for the first game, which we won 21-10.

I hope we continue to get the womenfolk to show up.


Monday Night at the Dojo 7/23

Aikidokas: Sensei John and Greg.

Ukemi: Decent. We spent a fair amount of time on this. I spent some time working on rolling up on a couple of different front rolls. I'm getting better. We also spent some time (Greg and I) on warming up each other with big falls.

The walk: as usual.

Releases: We spent a good bit of time on releases. We're altering the 2nd and 4th releases just a bit to go over the 4th toe instead of inline with uke's attack.

Techniques: We didn't have much time left, so we did a couple of Shomen-ates, a couple of Shihonages and then I worked on the entry for Mae-otoshi a couple of times.

Aftermath: none of note.


Out-of-context quote

"Apple has apparently moved its headquarters to Lake Wobegon, where all the Street estimates are above average."

Eric Savitz

Regarding Apple's upcoming earnings report.


What a long, intensive weekend!

Kim and I drove to San Antonio Friday night to volunteer at the USA Judo National Jr. Olympics. We were scheduled to be technical officials (e.g., timers, scorekeepers, etc.) with some other friends from Houston.

We left town about 7pm and made it to the hotel around 10:30 or 11. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince accompanied us on the trip to refresh our memory for the Deathly Hallows.

We got up at 6 am, had breakfast and made it to the coliseum by 8. We got settled in at our mat and proceeded to officiate approximately 179 matches in 9 hours. I was scorekeeper for most of the time. While not quite as intensive of a position as match timekeeper, I still had to pay attention at all times. I'd give myself about a 95%, or a little higher, rating on determining the correct score from the referee's calls. Sometimes it's tough to figure which competitor got the score since I don't play judo. We were the last of the 5 mats to finish their matches for the day.

After breaking for the day, we agreed to meet up on the River Walk for dinner with the rest of the crew. Texas Land & Cattle was our destination. Kim and I had been sitting down for too long, so we did some walking around the River Walk before dinner. Unfortunately, we forgot to mark in our minds where we parked the truck. I mentioned marking the spot in a GPS unit, but we did not have one with us. This would come back to haunt us.

Dinner was cool, a great bunch of folks. They overcooked my steak. It arrived well done and I prefer them medium. Oh well, it kept me from eating too much.

Dinner done, we made our way back to the truck. And kept walking. And kept walking. And kept walking. We could not spot the parking garage in which we'd left the truck.

After an hour and a half, we found a garage employee at another garage and asked him for help. Questioning us, he was able to determine which garage we were likely parked in. He pointed it out to us, about 2 blocks away. We walked over and then ran up the nine flights of stairs to find our fabulous vehicle waiting for us, wondering where we'd been.

We made it back to the hotel and collapsed.

Up at 6am again Sunday and off to breakfast. Back to the coliseum. 54 more matches to keep score for.

The only really interesting one was one that was decided by Hansoku-make. One of the girls had 4 Shidos called against her and her opponent was, therefore, awarded the match. That was the only scoring in the match.

Last match ended and we bolted for the door. 4 hours, or so, later we were back at home being joyfully greeted by the dogs.

We walked the dogs and picked up my copy of Deathly Hallows from the library. We listened as a massive thunderstorm moved through, causing us to lose power a couple of times. I actually disconnected my computer, and I rarely do that.


Wednesday Night at the Dojo 7/18

Aikidokas: Sensei Tim

Ukemi: Decent. Tim tried different things at the end of ukemi warm up when I throw punches at him and he, usually, responds with a kote-gaeshi or a sumi-otoshi. He didn't always go with the big throw.

The walk: as usual.

Techniques: We did some exploration of the techniques of go kata. We also spent time on the entries for 14-17.

Aftermath: none of note.


Volleyball 2-1, 0-2

Season-ending tournament and we failed to win it. Bummer.

We were kind of short-handed, with only 4 players to everyone else's 6. So we were working hard and ran out of steam.

First match: 23-25, 25-23, 15-13

Second match: 23-25, 25-27

You can't get much closer than that. Onward to next season. I hope we have more reliable womenfolk.


Monday Night at the Dojo 7/16

Aikidokas: Sensei Randy, Oliver, and Kim.

Ukemi: not bad. Starting to work on rolling up. Felt a strain on a left leg muscle on one of them. Nothing lasting.

The Walk: as usual. Kim got to count.

Releases: with Oliver.

Techniques: with Oliver.

We were supposed to run through 11-14 both sides for both of us, with more repetitions for him. We managed to complete our assignment except for kote-gaeshi for me and left sided kote-gaeshi for him.

Nothing of note. Just a day of journeymen working through the tasks set before them.

Aftermath: none of note. Still trying to get rid of the cold allergy.


At the Movies

The Last Samurai: 3

Another typical Tom Cruise star vehicle, with fewer explosions than usual but not by much.

Some neat instances of jo work, iaido and aikido. Ninjas are thrown in as well. Lots of ninjas in one spot.

At the Movies

The Queen: 3

A good performance by the actors representing the royal family, but the story was just okay.

Saturday Morning at the Dojo 7/14

Aikidokas: Sensei Tim

Ukemi: Ok. No big falls. For some reason I was not very awake and wasn't ready to take them during warmup

The Walk: as usual

Releases: This is what we spent our time on again. Releases into techniques. We also did some hand randori with the approach of everything starts as a release. I'm still having issues finding the back door out of some situations. I expect that will be the case for a number of years, though, so it's not much of a concern.

Aftermath: A little sore elbow from getting into an unexpected armbar.


Wednesday Night at the Dojo 7/11

Aikidokas: Sensei Tim

Ukemi: Decent. I took some big falls. On one of them I ended up in a position where Tim was supporting my slap hand, so I had nothing with which to slap. Landed fine, but it was weird not being able to slap.

The walk: as usual.

Techniques: We worked through the various techniques in which we are inside the arm (1, 14, 15, 16, 17) and did some variations assuming uke has evil in his mind with the second hand. You can not, safely, move uke down his line of attack. You have to move him to the outside corner of his attacking hand. That allows you an opportunity to attempt a technique while eliminating uke's off-hand from the encounter.

Aftermath: none of note.


Volleyball 0-3, 2-1

Meh. We had no women show up for our early match (8pm) and so we had to forfeit the match. They didn't show up for the 9pm match either, but we drafted two of the ladies from our opponent in the 8pm match and played the 9pm match with them on our side.

We did ok. The first game we took them to the cleaners. Second game they took us to the cleaners. The third game we won, but I don't remember the score.

I think we ended up in second place in the league by 1 game. If the folks keeping track of the scores had done a perfect job, we'd be in first. Tied by record, but we beat the other team in head-to-head.

Oh well, we play the tournament next week. I hope the ladies show up.


Monday Night at the Dojo 7/9

Aikidokas: Sensei John (now that he's Yondan, he's Sensei), Robert, Oliver, and Greg

Ukemi: not bad. Starting to work on rolling up. May have slightly pinged a hip on one of them. No lasting effect

The Walk: as usual. Asked about incorporating Sensei Carla's suggestion from the seminar. Got to count the next version of the walk because of asking said question ;)

Releases: with Oliver

Techniques: with Oliver.

We were supposed to run through 1-14 both sides for both of us. We managed to make it through 1-9 for Oliver. We had a good time and knocked some rust off.

Aftermath: none of note. Still trying to get rid of the cold allergy.


At the Movies

Once Upon a Time in Mexico: 4

This was a hoot. Over the top explosions and decent acting.

One of the interesting things I noticed was in Johnny Depps' dialog, he uses his now-famous Captain Jack Sparrow phrase "Savvy?" I almost fell off the sofa when I heard that.

This is a borderline see-it-again movie. The number of bodies flying when explosions occur and the easily broken church pews almost throw it into a just see it once.

We saw the end credit to Quentin and were not surprised. Kim doesn't like anything, so far, that Quentin has touched. I think that she would give this movie a 3 to my 4.

Saturday Morning at the Dojo 7/7

Aikidokas: Sensei Tim

Ukemi: Not bad. Had a weird landing on one of the big falls. I didn't get the nice solid boom I usually do, but a thump instead. No pain was involved, but it was strange.

This was my first session after my demonstration and I though my releases needed work. So, that's what we worked on. We expanded the workout into more general areas and discussions.

The topic of kazushi (off-balance) came up, as it should in aikido. We discussed how off-balances play a role in the fight-or-flight response that humans, and probably most animals, have. If you've been attacked by someone, successfully avoided it, and generated an off-balance in your attacker you've put your attacker into a fight-or-flight situation. Because he's off-balance, his body's response is to get back on balance. He can't, physically or mentally, do anything in the way of an attack until he gets his balance back.

A number of aikido techniques have multiple elements to them (e.g, move off-line, move uke's center, push, turn and push again). To successfully complete the technique you need to get uke off-balance and, if the technique that shows up has multiple elements in it, keep uke off-balance the entire time. If you keep the off-balances in play, uke can't get back in the fight. Give up the off-balance and uke's likely to sit you on your keester.

It was definitely a good Saturday morning session, if it inspired me to write more than the usual gibberish


Aftermath: none.

At the Movies

Ratatouille: 4

Another great Pixar movie. I need to see it again to see what I missed on the first viewing.

Great animation and a great story. This is probably going to join our DVD library when it comes out.


At the Movies

Pan's Labyrinth: 3, rated R

I was expecting to like this far more than I did. It just didn't click. It chased my wife away from the room with the violence. It was actually more threatened and executed off-screen than actually shown.

The timing of the movie seemed awfully compressed. Things that I would expect to happen over weeks appeared to happen over days. An hourglass ran out far later than first appearance said it would.

At the Movies

The Quiet American: 3

Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser

A decent movie. Not what I was expecting when I picked it out. I wonder what the movie is that has Caine in it, but in a far more rural, American setting? Cider House?

A British journalist is reporting from Vietnam as the French are being chased out of country. He chances to meet an American aid worker (immediately obvious, somehow, as CIA). Things continue to be uncovered, girlfriends exchanged, etc., until the cause of the dead body is uncovered.

I enjoyed this and thought the performances were well-done. And I see the Caine was nominated for an Oscar.

At the Movies

Boiler Room: 2

Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Ron Rifkin

A movie about ethics vis-a-vis pump and dump stock schemes.

I was not terribly impressed. We'd hoped for a decent movie with Vin in it, but it seemed forced. The plots did not really flow well. The sub plot, with Ron Rifkin really seemed tacked on.

I think Giovanni did a decent job with the acting. Not much Vin in the movie, relatively speaking.



I was awarded the rank of Nikyu on Saturday afternoon after an exhausting demonstration. Now I get to start working on: mae-otoshi, sumi-otoshi and hiki-otoshi. The last three of the first seventeen.

John (Sensei John, now that he is Yondan), wanted to work with me on Sumi- last night but I was feeling a bit under the weather and did not make it to the dojo. We're not having class on the 4th of July, so it will be Saturday at the earliest before I make it back to the mat.

Edit: 400th post!

Saturday Afternoon at the Dojo 6/30

Aikidokas: a bunch. Everyone'd returned from the judo tournament. A number of folks had placed at the tournament!

With everyone there, and if you take into account the promotions that took place over the weekend, we had 3 Hachidans, 3 Nanadans, 1 Godan (I think) and 1 Yondan instructing over the weekend. That's a powerful collection of teachers.

The afternoon sessions were on The Walk and on the Releases. The mat was amazingly sticky so it was not a very smooth practice.

Then it was time for belt demonstrations. We had 5 folks demonstrating for the following belts: 1 Yonkyu, 1 Nikkyu, 2 Nidans and 1 Yondan.

As the only Kyu grades up for promotion, Matt and I performed The Walk together. It was kind of rough. Our counter for it seemed to be speeding up the pace as we went along. I was able to deal with it, but Matt it through for a loop. We got the pace slowed down and allowed Matt to catch up and finish it.

I did my releases with John, as my planned uke for the test, Oliver, did not show up. I think my feet were sticking to the mat because I was late on my releases. Horribly so.

I then went through 1-14 of the first 17 techniques. I actually am pleased with my performance. I was very focused, according to Sensei Carla.

I had a mantra before the start of each technique: technique number, which side (left or right) and the foot to start the approach with. So for Gedan-ate it would have been: #4, right side, left foot.

I finished my demonstration and then sat and watched, in the demonstration line up, the other 3 tests.

At the end of the last test, Joseki turned to each other and conferred. Joseki for my exam consisted of 2 Hachidans and 3 Nanadans. After a few minutes, they called the entire group up and awarded us our new ranks. There was a brief moment of tension/humor when they tore up the certificate for one of the Nidans before awarding him the rank.

After the exams were over, we ended the seminar and broke a dinner of bar-b-q and fixin's. Some folks extended the party at one of the local watering holes. I should have done so, but I had enough single malts at the dojo to get me relaxed.

The folks from Alabama needed to get up bright and early Sunday morning to make it back home at a reasonable hour, so we opted not to have the seminar continue past Saturday.

Saturday Morning at the Dojo 6/30

Aikidokas: a bunch, but a number of folks were off at a developmental judo tournament.

First Session: 1.5 to 2 hours on ukemi and stretching. We didn't get to big falls. We did do falls starting from one knee and standing. We also did some front, what I call flat, falls. Similar to what you might take on Oshi-taoshi.

I got some pointers from Carla on my rolls from the knee. My butt was moving off-line on the roll: if I stated with my right knee up, my posterior would travel more to the left than it should. I managed to improve it a little bit. She was going to tweak my standing rolls some, but she and Sensei Tim discussed it and determined that it was something specific I'd been taught and did not need correcting. (At least, that's how I interpreted the conversation I saw going on in a corner of the mat).

The second session of the morning was on Owaza Ju Pon. John got to teach that session. It was a fun introduction to those techniques. I think I ended up attempting 9 of the 10. By the time we got to number 10, I did not feel I was properly energized to do it safely. It was lunch time.

I did manage to get a throw on the Big 10 version of Kote-gaeshi. I stood there for a few seconds afterward with a big silly grin on my face. It may have even been caught on tape. I'll have to check.

Friday Night at the Dojo 6/29

Aikidokas: a bunch. This was the first session of the weekend seminar. I think we ended up with around 20 folks, maybe more. I have to check the seminar photo that we took on Saturday.

Friday night we covered a good number of the first seventeen techniques. I worked with Larry (who hails from work with Mike and Carla as well as Karl), in the first breakout. He has studied them a lot differently than we study them. Now, it could be that he's just stepped back onto the mat after a number of years absence, but I don't think so.

I think the most obviously different one was Oshi-taoshi (aka Ikkyo, I think). After the first off-balance he fades behind uke, we fade in line with the line of uke's shoulder and ear. His fade produces and dramatic spinning fall. Ours produces a less-dramatic forward-moving fall.

I don't recall, off-hand, who else I worked with. We arrived one hour into the 3 hour session, so we didn't get the full teaching.