I am rough!?!

25 09 2014

Think about a good timed out ai hanmi katatedori attack met properly before uke stops the movement forward, directing the energy to enter for ikkyo with a partial tenkan movement followed by a downward cut to take the first balance off uke, and positioning my free hand on my partner elbow, not gripping (never!), just feeling the elbow bone.

At that point, when uke tried to get up, my years of Endo sensei practice kicked in and I went in auto-pilot mode, so instead of doing the showed technique (that required a long step backwards and “sort of pulling uke with you”) I just used the elbow contact to redirect at once the upward energy and then leading uke straight down on the mats.

We are talking about Aikido, yeah, and last night practice with a yudansha in the local dojo, where I try to fit at best attempting always to perform a technique closest possible to the one showed by the instructor even when different from what I am more used and confident in doing. Even if when I think it goes against everything I believe, because it is not my dojo, not my style and I am basically still a visitor passing by.

My partner in the above description, taken by extremely surprised (probably expecting in both body and mind the movement they are used to do here), looked at me in a weird way and when asked if everything was alright, said: “You are (a bit) rough!“…

The comment annoyed me quite a bit and during the following minutes of practice I realized a nice improvement in myself: even feeling annoyed (can’t say really angry), this remained in my mind, while I could keep my center and Aikido totally relaxed taking an extra care of my partner and focusing more on their Aikido (way rougher from my point of view), but trying to not surprise the person I practiced with. This detachment was actually a good surprise!

At the same time I started thinking about how I did/do/would react when facing some new forms/schools of Aikido, when without a deep understanding of how they do something and why, I just feel the differences and end up in thinking different executions are rougher than what I am used to. But then I often got motivations to get a deeper look/understanding.

Among the several kind of Aikido I did practice in my life I have troubles identifying as rough the path I follow when I do not think, when I just do things as they come. But I can agree that if people is taken by surprise and suddenly out of their own path into a parallel road to the same target they might feel this as an unwanted disruption of their own peace. Resulting then in thinking something rough happened related to a different Aikido form. Or this is the way I did rationalize.

Also the school followed by this dojo is an extremely structured and formalized one, with several variations and entrances of the same technique/attack, all finely codified, and all of this is part of their graduation syllabus (reminded me a little of some Iwama Ryu seminars with like 15 variations of morote dori shihonage omote). I saw that people practicing so well formalized schools have usually more problems to “step out of it” for a tiny moment. I do not mean they do not go to seminars under different teachers: they do that and the teacher has crossed my Aikido senseis’ path more than once. But during the execution of a technique, if something does not go in the way they expect it, they have a much higher inertia to adapt to variation of style than.. me, us, “my” people..

I think that highly structured/formalized Aikido is less supple: more like a thick tree than grass, that can bend before breaking!

I can be rough. Yes, still Aikido talk! In normal life, probably I am. On the mats, during normal practice, I try to avoid doing anything rough or uncomfortable for uke. Still feelings can be difficult. Of course I want that my partner never feels my technique as being rough. But this is not easy to achieve. What it is an early sharp entrance to anticipate uke‘s attack can be seen from uke side as a violent, aggressive form.

I also know that trying to copy forms quite new to me, as in this dojo, my technique could come out rough: not understanding what it is behind the form I know that if I try only to copy I end up using force.. when I do not want to get to my softer Aikido! I have also experienced the complete opposite though: watering down their forms, since unsure how to properly do and wanting to avoid the sharp corners that make me think as rough execution, I have experienced being blocked (or at least clumsy, awkward attempts to do so) by partners that they do not realize how many openings they give me just for to do so! Openings I force myself to not take advantage off since I would be misunderstood: accepting the block with a smile has become my mental training. And I experienced more than once during this year that being nice on the mats with people I know little has been interpreted as not being able, not having an acceptable Aikido for what they think my level should be..

I try more and more to take things with a smile: at least keep inside my annoyance and work it out later. My blog has been always a good place for me and my thoughts and I have spent too little time here lately. I still got so much to say.

In conclusion though, I need to practice, my mind, my body needs Aikido, and that smile mentioned just here is a better way for my needs! I can’t have my Aikido every day (let’s see if future moves will bring me closer to this), but I can have some doses of local Aikido balanced with weekend seminars.. and, soon, a week in Indonesia with Irie sensei!!

Oh yeah, let it come!! :-)

And I will just work more to avoid to be seen as rough!

The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

8 07 2014

Since Sunday, I do know it!

I have also achieved that enlighten status to know the most important answer to the ultimate life questions:


..or I should know it..

The only 2 things I know for sure are:

  1. I have understood why Germans in Norway never had problem to join a mixed gender sauna where all locals area always naked: they, in the same way, have no problem attending a mixed gender bath-sauna place on a Sunday afternoon wearing nothing else than.. natural body hairs! When they were not shaven ;-) Unfortunately the ratio of pretty young girls respect to obese older guys was about 1:9..
  2. I start being too old for 2 night buses over a three nights period: yesterday night I went to bed around 9pm!!!

Once more, thanks a lot to all the nice people that left me b’day wishes on fb, email or else.. I am usually not that good in remembering birthdays!! Hugs to all of you!!

Aikido vs. football

3 07 2014

I know several Aikido people will/would laugh at this post, laugh at me and think I am stupid probably.. or whatever, but it is not that I really care what people think of me, otherwise I would not have a blog ;-)

Among the majority of my Aikido close friends I cannot identify many that enjoy also team sports, either watching or practicing. In particular basketball, football (soccer!), rugby or, more on the side, volleyball (since I know a very good friend, Jacqueline Aikimama was a top volleyball player, but it is not really a team sport of contact, except the occasional smash on the face!).

I do not want to generalize to the whole Aikido world of course, but from my personal experience among the people I have met, usually Aikido people do not like team sports for one (or both) of the following reasons:

  1. They do not like/understand the spirit of competition, they often classify it as the “evil feeling” that you do not want to have when you practice Aikido, therefore wrong in any other appearance.
  2. They have always been, as children at school, awkward when doing team sports. Never been able to kick a ball straight or shoot at the basket, and since anyway there were several other classmates enjoying that much more, they ended up on the side of the field (or bench) watching other people doing something they never really understood where the enjoyment was.

Just thinking among the closest group of my Aikido friends, active Aikido friends I mean, I can find a few that are extremely good at solitary sports (skiing, snow boarding, skating, skate boarding, tennis, etc.) but.. nobody (except the above mentioned Jacq and my good friend Peter in HK, a very good basketball player with whom I had fun, if only once) with a past in team sports (beside when they were obliged at school).

I started playing basketball when I was 8 years old (1981) and I continuously played in teams until I started Aikido, in 1995, and overlapping that for 1-2 years (the terrible AVHI basket team in Trondheim!). After I quit basketball for a few reasons (the level was so low that I started getting worried to destroy my knees, ankles, joints) I did experienced a few times dreaming about playing again! No, not wet dreams.. but almost!

Even if I never played officially in a team, I also played a lot of volleyball during the years, and more than occasionally football, as goalkeeper: maybe because I always enjoyed falling and throwing myself on the ground I became so dedicated in learning a good ukemi:-)

Thanks to this team sport past I have met several people that have then become close and best friends.

Also I do not regret or try to forget the competitive feelings and spirit typical in basketball competitions: the maturity is keeping those feelings in the appropriate field. I admit in my youth I failed in doing so, from time to time. But I have never had problems in Aikido: I have never risked to mix the spirit for competition with my martial art practice. Maturity? Common sense? Cannot really say, but for sure, for me, Aikido and team sports can live together!

Furthermore, for how much I enjoy to watch Aikido videos, I like much more to watch live sports on TV! Since my youth, I have always enjoyed almost any sport on television (except golf, sorry..). But then the commercial TV started buying rights for sports event and less and less team sports were available on the free TV channels. So for a long time no live events, or streaming on laptops with not always stable connections.

Now it’s world cup time, and I am really enjoying watching football again (even if Italy was rightly humiliated and sent home). I do not find it boring, and since I am also living in a city where there is no dojo or teacher close to the Aikido I love the most to practice, I have had not many mental troubles to skip practice in order to watch football. This will be met by harsh words, comments and laughs by the Aikido friends!

Of course I would have never planned a trip to Japan or Stockholm during a major sport event like this one, but I have not avoided seminars because of football, if some of you are wondering. Endo sensei, still among my 2-3 favorite teachers, will be in Slovakia this week but I could not go there because of lack of holidays.. not because of football on TV!!

Do not worry, I am still one of the first and biggest Aikido freaks! It is just I live again in a non-perfect (for me) Aikido place.. but among the people with a regular job and not the typical Scandinavian flexi-time freedom I am still one of the most trip active!!

No regrets as well ;-)

One more week of football then I can focus on… something else! Hopefully in enjoying the summer ;-)

..and then Stavanger trip for Marc Bachraty sensei!!!

525 – love yourself

25 05 2014

I have decided this is my day, not 520 or 521, Chinese funny traditions that I liked as lots of other Chinese stuff. But this year I got no one that would accept love from me so those two days were useless. Or worse! Since as people always tell me, I do think too much.

So I decided that my day is, “paraphrasing” the Chinese, 525: wu er wu – wo ai wo, ie. I love myself. Not in that way, you yellow mind!!!

A day though to dedicate to yourself, and try to do something special for you, even if you are in a place you don’t like or doing a job you hate, or you cannot be with the person you miss and want the most.. try to find something good to enjoy, something that can make your day a little more positive than it would otherwise be.

It can be as easy and simple as enjoying a good sunset from your window:

Sky in Utrecht

I am traveling today from Norway back to the Netherlands after a good seminar with Roberto Martucci sensei in Stavanger. For tonight I decided just to fix myself a good dinner at home, maybe get a pizza and a couple of beers and from now to celebrate this day, but try to not forget my own value in every day life!

And do not set this value in reference to other people or to other people feelings. From my personal experience, you end up hurt! Just value yourself! I forget this quite often! When there are many other things I should forget..


22 05 2014

Should you not be sleeping? Asked a friend from Shanghai…

Yeah I should but lots of thoughts are keeping me awake…

Anyway my head will drop soon: not so much space in my little brain :-)

A friend suggested lavender oil: calms your nerve system. The simplest way, she says, is to have one drop of it on a napkin and put it next to your pillow.

The simplest way, I think, is putting one drop on a pretty girl and use her as my pillow :-P


17 05 2014

Long time I don’t find something funny worth mentioning.

This goes in the category of funny if you don’t wear my shoes.

Veronica is the name of both a radio station and a tv channel here in the Netherlands.

At work we usually listen to that radio station because it has the least repetitive selection and also good quality/mix of genres.

At home I often watch the tv channel since it has a very good ofer of action movies and tv-series.

My typical luck is that Veronika is also the chosen German name of my ex, who recently kicked me out of her life since she now is seeking something new and more exciting…

Apparently, at work, at home, I am chased by Veronicas….. Wrong ones?? ;-)

Rejection and possession

3 05 2014

I have to fight my instincts!

A special person left an important part of my life and this rejection, that did not come as a surprise at all, a rejection I thought I could handle (not easily since she is.. was.. extremely important in the every day chain of thoughts, taking a big part of them!) is creating feelings I do not want! Read the rest of this entry »


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