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Mistr

Mistr works on her base

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8 hours ago, Mistr said:

People keep saying that consistency is critical for progress. That applies to strength training, zen and martial arts. Right now the only ball I'm keeping in the air consistently is aikido. I think that is the right choice, but I'm frustrated that I have to make the choice at all. I would like everything to fit with less struggle. I don't feel guilty because I haven't been goofing off. There are other balls sitting on the table - cooking, creative projects, financial planning and cleaning. I am inclined to argue that some of those are more important and should get picked up next. I'll see how I feel about it on Friday afternoon.

 

Makes complete sense to prioritize aikido. The strength training and zen all beautifully complement each other and aikido and the rest of your life. But when some of the balls fall a bit, remember that aikido has meditative aspects and strength aspects. It's not like you are doing nothing.

 

ok to see how you feel Friday afternoon...but I remember that at least part of Friday evening would be unscheduled. I think you might need that the most.

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My big achievement for today was getting enough sleep two days in a row. I also sat zen this morning.

 

Working out did not happen because of car woes. Dumbledore is going out of town this weekend and taking my car. It is newer, more reliable and gets vastly better mileage than our other cars. It was due for a tire rotation, so he took it to the dealer for service (still under extended warranty). I drove our old Mazda because it had been sitting in the driveway for weeks and needed to charge the battery. I was happy when it started right up and not surprised that the battery light was on. The funny smell and noise worried me, but it seemed to be okay. Then I noticed puffs of smoke coming out from the hood when I was at a stop light halfway to work. The battery light did not turn off and the temperature indicator was on H.

 

When I got to work I opened the hood and saw that the smoke was actually steam coming off the radiator overflow tank, which was boiling. I suspect a belt broke, but I didn't poke into the engine to check. I messaged Dumbledore and Hermes. They advised to have it towed home, where Hermes will fix it this weekend. Hermes also has a friend who wants to buy it. YAY!

 

At this point I just want to get rid of it. We can charge Hermes' friend enough to cover this round of repairs, then be done with it.

 

AAA came and towed it back to our house over my lunch hour. I drove back in the Honda. Dumbledore thinks he may have a buyer for it too. I don't have confidence we will get enough for it to buy a more reliable car, but I'm not going to worry about that now. Maybe we will buy the Kia back from Hermes. He got it fixed, then got his dad's old car.

 

Tonight I'm doing grocery shopping, paying bills, driving Elf on an errand and spinning. 

 

Tomorrow I'm doing a road trip with dojo friends (one of whom has a reliable Prius) to a seminar 3.5 hours away. We are all nuts.

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I'm glad you are doing a seminar. It gets you away from dishes and weeding :-)

 

On 7/12/2019 at 6:09 PM, Mistr said:

The funny smell and noise worried me, but it seemed to be okay. Then I noticed puffs of smoke coming out from the hood when I was at a stop light halfway to work. The battery light did not turn off and the temperature indicator was on H.

 

When I got to work I opened the hood and saw that the smoke was actually steam coming off the radiator overflow tank, which was boiling. I suspect a belt broke, but I didn't poke into the engine to check. I messaged Dumbledore and Hermes. They advised to have it towed home, where Hermes will fix it this weekend. Hermes also has a friend who wants to buy it.

 

Heck yeah, sell that thing!

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Weekend report

 

The seminar was fun. I left the house at 5:00am and got home at 9:45pm. Thankfully one of my friends did all the driving from his house to the seminar. We had good discussions on the trip.

 

The aikido was okay. Four instructors each taught for an hour. One of them was a last-minute replacement and it showed. The other three all taught good classes. The hosting dojo was hoping to get about 20 people on the mat to have enough ukes for tests. There were 38 people for the morning classes. Some left at lunch but there were still about 30 in the afternoon. I got to meet some people and renew contacts with people I met at the seminar in April. That alone was worth the price of admission.

 

There was one shodan test and three sandan tests. All of the candidates were direct students of the regional chief instructor who ran the tests. Presumably the instructor is quite familiar with the skills of the candidates. I say that because the content of the tests was much less than I've seen in other tests for the same ranks. We discussed the tests at great length on the drive back. The Japanese shihan who is the head of our organization stopped doing testing several years ago. He is now semi-retired. There is a committee of senior people running the organization. Consistency in expectations for tests is one of the things they are supposed to work on.

 

One of the problems is that the requirement for sandan is "All basic techniques performed to demonstrate more understanding of the relationship of basic principle to the technique with maturity and clarity." The earlier tests require demonstration of basic techniques from open hand and armed attacks, weapons katas and randori. My sensei has said that by sandan an aikidoka must be able to do all the techniques at speed. The ukes at this level are actually trying to hit nage, not moving in slow motion like they do for newer students. I did not see any of that on the sandan tests this weekend. The randori had only three people and it looked more like jiyu waza (free style) rather than true multiple attackers. You can watch @RisenPhoenix's shodan test to see what these usually look like. I am not dissing the candidates - they might be able to perform well in a more rigorous test. I was just surprised that the sensei, who normally has a reputation for being a hardass, was being so easy on them.

 

Sunday I took a badly needed catch-up day. I slept in and did stuff at home. Dumbledore did a little picking up and got the laundry washed before heading out of town for the weekend. Elf said they would do some cleaning, but ended up sleeping late and not having much energy. I did a bunch of cleaning and took time to relax in between. The kitchen was a disaster area, so that was where I started.

  • wiped down the kitchen island
  • scrubbed the stove top
  • unloaded the dishwasher and reloaded with dirty dishes
  • scrubbed the kitchen sink
  • swept the floor in the kitchen, dining room and front entry
  • washed dishes
  • cleaned the toilet
  • mowed the front yard

The only cooking I did was to make strawberry sauce from the local strawberries I got at the farmer's market a week ago. I intended to do that every day last week. About a third of the berries had gone bad. :(  I will just make a smaller batch of strawberry ice cream. No one else seems to eat the homemade ice cream, even if they request their favorite flavors. That's okay, I can just make what I want to eat.

 

Along the same lines, I noticed that I was the only one who ate the chicken curry I made two weeks ago. I made a big batch and did not quite manage to eat all of it before it went bad. We have done better on eating the chicken that Elf cooked, but not the carrots or potatos. It certainly makes my life easier not spending time cooking. I'll see if people come up with meal ideas this week. The fridge is looking unusually bare.

 

I did quite a few fun things between the chores. I knit more on my sock after verifying that it does indeed fit. Snug but okay. I don't have any novels going right now, so I picked up some non-fiction from my reading pile. A little bit of zen and a little bit of aikido. I did yoga in the morning and zen before bed. A good weekend.

 

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17 hours ago, Mistr said:

One of the problems is that the requirement for sandan is "All basic techniques performed to demonstrate more understanding of the relationship of basic principle to the technique with maturity and clarity." The earlier tests require demonstration of basic techniques from open hand and armed attacks, weapons katas and randori. My sensei has said that by sandan an aikidoka must be able to do all the techniques at speed. The ukes at this level are actually trying to hit nage, not moving in slow motion like they do for newer students. I did not see any of that on the sandan tests this weekend.

 

That sounds like a rather jarring thing to see. Like being told it's gonna be a hard spar and then finding out you just barely touch each other. Not the same.

 

17 hours ago, Mistr said:

No one else seems to eat the homemade ice cream, even if they request their favorite flavors. That's okay, I can just make what I want to eat.

 

RAAAAH. Who turns down something like that? Makes no damn sense.

 

Still, I'm glad you managed to have some fun this weekend!

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55 minutes ago, Kishi said:

That sounds like a rather jarring thing to see. Like being told it's gonna be a hard spar and then finding out you just barely touch each other. Not the same.

 

The part that bothers me the most is that different people with testing credentials want to see different things. The test for sandan requires two sixth dans or one seventh dan. I've seen sandan tests from two seventh dans in the last couple years. The first one was about what I expected. The examiner clearly wanted to see the best the candidate could do. The weapons attacks and randori were fast. The open-hand sections were smooth and showed control and a variety of responses to each attack. I did not get the sense of "do five techniques from a straight punch - check" like I did last weekend.

 

I feel that junior people watching dan tests should think "wow, I want to be able to do that". I'm not ready for my next test (and don't meet the training time requirement yet), and I could have done what was asked. Not inspiring.

 

I remember watching the nidan test of my instructor at the U of MN aikido club. He was amazingly fast and precise. There was the part where two people attacked him from opposite sides with boken. He disarmed the first one who moved and in a smooth turn, blended with the attack of the second person and disarmed him. It was over in seconds. He also did randori from hamni handachi (nage on his knees in shikko, ukes standing). There was nothing half that difficult in what should have been a more challenging test.

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1 hour ago, Mistr said:

 

The part that bothers me the most is that different people with testing credentials want to see different things. The test for sandan requires two sixth dans or one seventh dan. I've seen sandan tests from two seventh dans in the last couple years. The first one was about what I expected. The examiner clearly wanted to see the best the candidate could do. The weapons attacks and randori were fast. The open-hand sections were smooth and showed control and a variety of responses to each attack. I did not get the sense of "do five techniques from a straight punch - check" like I did last weekend.

 

I feel that junior people watching dan tests should think "wow, I want to be able to do that". I'm not ready for my next test (and don't meet the training time requirement yet), and I could have done what was asked. Not inspiring.

 

I remember watching the nidan test of my instructor at the U of MN aikido club. He was amazingly fast and precise. There was the part where two people attacked him from opposite sides with boken. He disarmed the first one who moved and in a smooth turn, blended with the attack of the second person and disarmed him. It was over in seconds. He also did randori from hamni handachi (nage on his knees in shikko, ukes standing). There was nothing half that difficult in what should have been a more challenging test.

 

Right? Like it's what I'm seeing over in the dojo I'm in now - the senpai are all tougher than me, but they make a lot of mistakes that I can see, which are generally confirmed by the sensei. The man has a lot of good stuff to teach but he spends most of his time with the kids and I don't get very much out of it. That's why I'm inclined to leave my place. :( Which is all to say that I can relate to what you're saying.

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Week 2

 

what happened to week 1? stay tuned for further information

In bed early: 2/7 days

Sit zen: 4/7

Strength training: none

Finances: 0.5/2

Sort stuff: One box of old Mac disks and Zip drives

Non-recurring chore: none. Did lots of normal chores.

Recurring chore: Swept upstairs hard floors, cleaned sink and stove, washed dishes, cleaned toilet.

Work: still struggling to keep up. Did not take project time.

Fiber arts: Most days had no down time. Did some knitting and spinning and avoided phone games.

Social: went out for coffee with a new person. Lots of conversation with aikido friends.

Gardening: got one bed dug and planted, used compost from new bin.

 

Actually a fairly decent week, aside from work being too busy. I made good use of my time at home and did not get stressed about things. I did aikido Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and all day Saturday. I got done things I wanted to do on Monday, things I needed to do on Friday and a mix of both on Sunday. I did not get sucked into doing extra cooking or playing games. I think the zen in helping me with not getting to attached to my plans.

 

This week I am going to keep working on getting to bed early. I looked at myself in the mirrors at the dojo on Saturday morning. I looked like a zombie - pale skin and vivid dark circles under my eyes. I was starting to zone out in the morning classes so I had iced coffee at lunch. I felt much better in the afternoon. The coffee probably contributed to me staying up late Saturday evening. Whoever thought that getting to bed before 10pm would be a more challenging goal than picking up heavy things?

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Interesting to read about the difference in testing standards. Sorry it's frustrating, but glad that you had a good experience at the seminar anyway.

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I can completely understand turning down handmade ice cream but that's because of the dairy thing...if my guts tolerated it, I'd be all about that life.

 

Maybe the instructor who took it easy to the testing students already knew they'd demonstrated ability to do the kind of movement required and was low keying it on purpose on an individual test day basis. I know that feel of watching a test and wondering if they're going to pass because every technique was halting and/or had issues with the first and/or second executions (and they were midlevel belt, not white testing for yellow)....and they do. And you wonder. I've only seen one case of a student not passing in my (short) time because his nerves totally choked him, but I've seen tests where throughout I've thought there was a case to be made. Sometimes I think Sensei scales the grading on the difference between practice and test night (some of us don't quite choke on tests, but we definitely get in our own heads and it shows...), that's the charitable way to look at the variance. There is a less charitable interpretation that has nothing to do with any sort of skill, much less Aikido. I wonder if some instructors are afraid to grill or fail some students.

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On 7/17/2019 at 11:21 AM, Urgan said:

I can completely understand turning down handmade ice cream but that's because of the dairy thing...if my guts tolerated it, I'd be all about that life.

 

I wonder if some instructors are afraid to grill or fail some students.

 

Some of the ice cream is non-dairy. I've found that coconut milk is a fully acceptable substitute for heavy cream for many flavors of ice cream. Chocolate, for example. Coconut milk has several advantages, such as being shelf stable for months and being cheaper than heavy cream. The fat content is almost the same, which is why it makes a decent frozen dessert.

 

My friends and I did a lot of speculating on what is going on with the instructor. I'm all in favor of giving someone slack for test anxiety. That assumes that the instructor has seen the candidate perform at a higher level in regular class. On the other hand, aikido is a martial art. The whole point is to be able to react well in a stress situation. Setting up a stress situation is a legitimate part of the test.

 

I am sure that my feeling are influenced by the instructor of the first dojo I trained in. I was told that our shihan (Tohei Akira) wanted his tests to be more rigorous than any of the other shihans. That way his students could travel anywhere and know they were qualified. Apparently our 1st kyu test was pretty much the same as a shodan test at Hombu Dojo. Everyone in the region knew what to expect on the tests because Tohei sensei supervised all the testing himself. My main concern now is that we don't have that kind of consistency and uniform standards in our organization.

 

____________________

This week is going better than last week at work. We are still short-handed, but not quite so insanely busy. I did weight training three days and aikido one so far, with another session planned for tomorrow. Squats are slowly getting easier. The up part is consistently easy, it's the down part that is challenging. My knees have been happier overall which helps a LOT.

 

I finished reading the book on Zen that I bought last fall. It ends with advice on how to be a good student. "Train hard, train often" is the gist of it. The primary caution is not to become a zen person who does not sit zen. Just reading and talking about zen won't do much. Neither will being mindful in everyday tasks. Not to knock being mindful, but it is not the core discipline. I'm glad I had already resolved to sit every day so the book didn't add to my feelings of guilt.

 

Elf cleaned the bottom half of the fridge yesterday after a marinade disaster. It looks clean and sparkly now. Unlike the top half of the fridge. Cleaning the top half is now on my list for this weekend. Elf and I also had a discussion about cooking and cleaning. We agreed that we will mostly split the work between us and let Dumbledore contribute where he feels like it. Dumbledore is good about dishes, laundry and taking out the trash. Not so much on the other chores.

 

On a hopeful note, Dumbledore told me that he is going to buy vegetables for himself. He wants to take control of his eating patterns and buying (and prepping) veggies is part of it. One of our friends just posted that he changed his eating habits (to mostly Paleo, although he didn't use the term) to control type II diabetes. He has dropped 30 pounds so far and his blood sugar is back into the normal range. I hope that having a friend do it will motivate Dumbledore to do the same thing.

 

Elf has a new job and it is going well. After a slow start, Elf was the only server at the restaurant last night. The place got busy and handled it well. The manager on duty was impressed. On the home front, Elf has been keeping their room clean and put away their clean laundry. No more digging through laundry baskets and tubs for clothes. Elf is justifiably proud of taking control of their living space. The medical things are still a concern, but everything else is looking up.

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On 7/18/2019 at 5:57 PM, Mistr said:

Elf has a new job and it is going well. After a slow start, Elf was the only server at the restaurant last night. The place got busy and handled it well. The manager on duty was impressed. On the home front, Elf has been keeping their room clean and put away their clean laundry. No more digging through laundry baskets and tubs for clothes. Elf is justifiably proud of taking control of their living space. The medical things are still a concern, but everything else is looking up.

Finally caught up on your thread, what a wonderful thing to read! I'm glad things are going well for Elf!

 

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I had one of those weekends where I did not goof off and still made next to no progress on my to-do list. I went to aikido Saturday and Sunday, did some laundry, drove Elf to work and actually did get my checkbook balanced. I sat zen both days, although it was a close thing on Sunday. I started plying my most recently finished bobbins of yarn. That was planned as the creative work to do between chores.

 

Monday I did my zen after work because I had to prep food in the morning. I went to spinning in the evening, so no chores were done. I'm glad I went. I feel like I'm gradually making connections with people. There were only 9 people, so it felt like I got to talk with more of the group.

 

Tonight is grocery shopping and one or two things from the list. The fridge is nearly bare of prepared food. My second task is probably to clean the gas grill so it is usable again. I still need to deal with the aftermath of the turkey grilling disaster from June. Elf has been using our old charcoal grill to batch cook meat. That works, but it is slow and messy. It will make our lives better to make grilling easy again.

 

Dumbledore did indeed buy veggies for himself. We will see how his healthy eating changes go. For now, Elf and I are planning on mostly cooking for the two of us.

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Keeping up with food is a never-ending war of sorts with current energy levels and literally any other ambition in life. You win some, other times not so much lol.

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Honestly, just glad to hear you got someone else on your team as far as cooking goes. Hope this new arrangement lasts!

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6 hours ago, Urgan said:

Keeping up with food is a never-ending war of sorts with current energy levels and literally any other ambition in life. You win some, other times not so much lol.

 

No kidding. I made a conscious choice last weekend to work on other things instead of cooking. The only thing I made was a pan of brownies. We finished off the food that Elf cooked last week by Monday evening. Dumbledore and I both brought home groceries, but no one has cooked anything.

 

So far as I can tell no one has noticed but me. Maybe everyone else is more willing to live on sandwiches than I am. I am starting to feel a serious lack of veggies in my diet. Elf promised to grill some of the meat today. Hopefully that will happen. Otherwise I will be hitting the salad bar for the rest of the week. Missing my own cooking is likely to give me motivation to cook this weekend.

 

I was good last night and worked on the grill after I went grocery shopping. I got the gas tubes out so they can be soaked in a solvent bath. The rest of the grill is still awfully greasy. I got a layer or two off. I think I can get it back into working shape by this weekend.

 

One good thing about not having food at home is that I can take time to sit zen after work. No need to run home to eat dinner before aikido when I know I have to go out regardless. I got to bed late last night because I picked up Elf from work. No regrets about the decision, but it does mean I'm short on sleep again. I want to get to bed on time tonight.

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3 minutes ago, Mistr said:

No kidding. I made a conscious choice last weekend to work on other things instead of cooking. The only thing I made was a pan of brownies. We finished off the food that Elf cooked last week by Monday evening. Dumbledore and I both brought home groceries, but no one has cooked anything.

 

So far as I can tell no one has noticed but me. 

 

Cooking got everybody like

 

giphy.gif

 

3 minutes ago, Mistr said:

Maybe everyone else is more willing to live on sandwiches than I am. I am starting to feel a serious lack of veggies in my diet. Elf promised to grill some of the meat today. Hopefully that will happen. Otherwise I will be hitting the salad bar for the rest of the week. Missing my own cooking is likely to give me motivation to cook this weekend.

 

You could do that then be like, "So what are you guys gonna be having this week?" Get all Little Red Hen up in here lol. 

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18 hours ago, Urgan said:

You could do that then be like, "So what are you guys gonna be having this week?" Get all Little Red Hen up in here lol. 

 

I got home to discover that Elf had cooked ALL THE THINGS. They grilled chicken breasts and pork chops, made roast potatoes, baked sweet potatos on the grill, cooked brussel sprouts with bacon and made breaded chicken nuggets. The fridge was full and the kitchen was a disaster. I'm pretty sure Elf went out with friends. They did not respond to my "thank you" text and I was asleep before they came home.

 

My original plan to make granola went completely out the window. The baking sheet I needed was in the pile of dirty pans in the sink. To seal the deal, I ate too many donuts at work. I had some semi-healthy food before practice but it was too late. By the time I got home my GI tract was unhappy and I decided to swear off carbs for a couple days. Instead of baking anything I did 20 minutes of dishes. I also made hard-boiled eggs because I wanted some for salads. The kitchen is now not quite as much of a disaster.

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On 7/25/2019 at 2:00 PM, Mistr said:

I got home to discover that Elf had cooked ALL THE THINGS. They grilled chicken breasts and pork chops, made roast potatoes, baked sweet potatos on the grill, cooked brussel sprouts with bacon and made breaded chicken nuggets.

feast or famine? 

do you need my address to send some to? that sounds like a lot of food :D 

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On 7/25/2019 at 2:00 PM, Mistr said:

The fridge was full and the kitchen was a disaster.

 

I would not have reacted well to this trade, but you have met it with grace.

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On 7/28/2019 at 12:10 PM, Xena said:

I would not have reacted well to this trade, but you have met it with grace.

 

I have been working hard on ignoring things that other people can clean up. There are enough things that only I can do, I should concentrate on those first.

 

Plus Elf did a load of dishes after I did. There are still more dishes to wash. Elf had today off and was going to work on those, and also clean the bathroom. Dumbledore did almost all the vacuuming this weekend. That is all good, because I was gone a lot. I didn't even write a to-do list because I had so much left on the list from the previous week.

 

I do have a list for tonight. I was hoping to cover a bunch of things that I let slide and some tasks that I want to get done. Then Elf texted that some friends were stopping over to see us. Lovely (rats!). I've never been so happy to hear that their kid was feeling poorly so they are postponing.

 

The main reason I didn't get a lot done this weekend was that I did social things. I went out for lunch with my sensei after aikido. She wants to get more younger faces teaching. I will be sharing my Wednesday class with different people. The tough part is that we don't have any home-grown black belts in their 20s or 30s. Our star young student is now training in a different organization. There are younger blackbelts, but they have all come to us from different places. Sensei wants the basic classes to be taught in our style so that newer students have some consistency. I would love to learn from my friends in advanced class, and that will probably happen.

 

On Sunday Dumbledore and I went to a last-minute party for a friend who was visiting from out of town. I enjoyed getting some relaxed time to reconnect with people I hadn't seen in a long time. I'm counting this as my fourth social thing for the challenge, even though it wasn't planned.

 

I was good about the use of my time when not being social. One new time sink has been driving Elf to work. Their new job is about 20 minutes away. That makes for a 40-60 minute trip, depending on if they actually get done on time. The restaurant has not been generating much business this summer, even on weekends. There is a lot of competition within a few blocks. Elf is doing well there, but is considering looking elsewhere if things don't pick up in a month. I've gotta say that I'd be happier if they got a job closer to home and on a good bus line.

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Elf sounds like they're doing so much better! I hope that continues. I understand you've had a lot of social stuff get up and in the way, but you sound a lot better yourself now that you have a Comrade. I hope these good things continue, and if Elf decides to switch jobs that they get what they need. :)

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On 7/29/2019 at 5:58 PM, Mistr said:

The main reason I didn't get a lot done this weekend was that I did social things. I went out for lunch with my sensei after aikido. She wants to get more younger faces teaching. I will be sharing my Wednesday class with different people. The tough part is that we don't have any home-grown black belts in their 20s or 30s. Our star young student is now training in a different organization. There are younger blackbelts, but they have all come to us from different places. Sensei wants the basic classes to be taught in our style so that newer students have some consistency. I would love to learn from my friends in advanced class, and that will probably happen.

 

The funny thing is, I think all our black belts are home grown and I still get told the opposite thing depending on who is observing our practice. Personal style differences, distance from the last time they practiced that variation specifically, you know how it is. Obviously training under different dojos produces wider variations, but still it's a universal struggle for us sub-black belts lol. Occasionally you can catch 'em out and/or bring up a nuance and set all the attending black belts into Speculation Mode.

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4 hours ago, Urgan said:

The funny thing is, I think all our black belts are home grown and I still get told the opposite thing depending on who is observing our practice. Personal style differences, distance from the last time they practiced that variation specifically, you know how it is. Obviously training under different dojos produces wider variations, but still it's a universal struggle for us sub-black belts lol. Occasionally you can catch 'em out and/or bring up a nuance and set all the attending black belts into Speculation Mode.

 

Nods. In my first dojo everyone teaching was coming from the same background. I really appreciated that different instructors explained things different ways. There was also the "Jim sensei does this, but he is tall and I am not, so I do that". Everyone has to do a certain amount of adaptation for working with different size people.

 

I went to a seminar a few years ago where the guest instructor was asked to work on iriminage. He taught five different variations from five different senior Japanese instructors. All of them were effective. We had fun discussing when each version would be the first choice. More proof that there are lots of ways to throw an uke. Technique is just a stepping stone to learning timing, distance, connection and taking balance.

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