After a couple of classes where nobody showed up, we’ve had a couple of good practices in the last week. Not a lot of people, but good practices.
Some stuff was pretty basic – like how to make shihonage work on a resisting uke (at Doug’s request). (The simple answer, as usual, is extension and leverage. The trick is in the details.) Like how to make yonkyo work (at Glenn’s request). It sounds rather banal, but most times techniques fail to work as hoped because we forget the basics: escape the attack, take kuzushi, and then throwing. When we get hurried or excited, we tend to forget kuzushi, in particular. If we don’t get kuzushi, actually applying the technique can get quite difficult even if we do that part correctly.
Some stuff was less basic: practicing how to deal with multiple attacks, how to execute multiple attacks (which of course is critical for uke to give decent attacks), how to use suki to encourage uke to attack the way you want them to. How to take a little bit of control and turn it into greater and greater control.
Another thing we did was to find ways to get people to think about aikido from a fresh perspective. For example, you can do the boken suburi with one hand, then with the other hand, then go back to normal two handed technique. Another approach is to do a technique in a different way. We tend to get in a rut when we do the same techniques the same way. If we do the same technique in a different way, it makes us think about the technique from a different angle. This can be confusing, especially if the technique is being done in a way we have never seen before (and yes, even after 40 or 50 years I can still come up with different approaches). However, if we are fairly good at doing, say, ikkyo, one way, and then practice a different way, we end up having a more effective and more generally applicable ikkyo. At first, the different approach conflicts with the old way, but if we practice enough, we end up with a new way of doing ikkyo which subsumes both ways.
Sometimes, we just need a change of pace. We tend to get rather lackadaisical about ukemi, but changing the pace, either doing ukemi really slowly, or faster than usual will point up to where we need to improve.
On a final note, now that the weather is getting cooler, we are thinking of having a party. Usually, we have parties after a workout, but I’m thinking of having a pig roast, and as I have not done one before, I’ll have enough to do just cooking the pig. So probably just a party. Time and date TBD.