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Eeshan – Solo Aikido Training (since Nov 2019)

Eeshan – Solo Aikido Training (since Nov 2019)

May 4, 2020 @ 7:59 pm
by Flo Li
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We would like to share with you one of our independent physical education student’s journey in Solo Aikido Training. Eeshan was one of our best students in the youth class one step away from a black belt before he and his family moved to India. In the last few years, he kept in touch and in 2019 decided to take on an International Independent Study Course with us using it for his high school IAYP credit. This IAYP is similar to our ISPE program in the States.

Below is Eeshan’s journey in his Solo Aikido Training. We hope you will find inspiration in his appreciation in learning as he is currently preparing for his black belt test via ZOOM.

 

Week 1: Nov 30th – This week I had three practice sessions, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The first day started with 6 slow and 6 fast surya namaskars and mindful stretches for warm up, followed by practicing back break falls, focusing on form, not speed. The second session started with the same warm ups, followed by practicing front and backward rolls, doing them very slowly while being mindful of my surroundings. The third day started with 6 slow surya namaskars, followed by mindful body stretches and aikido hand stretches as warm up. I then practiced the aikido basic movements (kihon dosa), and then some bokken training. I really liked these sessions as it brought back a lot of old memories of practicing aikido, and feel like I was able to regain a lot of my past knowledge. My rolls and break falls are still a bit rough and am hoping to improve those in the future.

Week 2: Dec 7th – This week I had three practice sessions. All three days I started with doing 6 slow Surya Namaskars, then 6 faster Surya Namaskars, after which I did mindful stretches and then the Aikido hand stretches to warm up. After this, I did 20 back break falls, 10 slow backward rolls and 20 slow forward rolls. After this, I practiced the basic movements 6 repetitions for each movement, on both left and right sides. Finally, I practiced the united basic movements. These three practice sessions were extremely helpful, as I was really able to improve my falls and smoothen them out. I still need to work on doing this, as they are still a bit rough.

Week 3: Dec 14thI had three practice sessions this week. All three sessions started with the first four warm ups, 6 slow Surya Namaskars, 6 faster Surya Namaskars, mindful stretching, and aikido hand stretches. After this, in the first session I continued with 30 back break falls, 20 slow backward rolls and 30 front rolls. After this, I learnt and then practiced two new techniques, shomenuchi ikkajo osae 1 and 2. On the second and third day, I did 30 back break falls, then going onto practicing the 6 basic movements and the united basic movements. I then went on to reviewing and practicing the techniques learnt in the first session, and then learnt the 8 cuts in 8 directions with bokken. I did not have a bokken, so I practiced the 8 cuts in 8 directions with a wooden bamboo. I found this session very helpful as I was able to re-learn a lot of the techniques and things I had known in the past, and found it very fun and informative. 

Week 4: Dec 20th – This week I had three practice sessions, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. All three days I started with the first four warm ups, 6 slow Surya Namaskars, 6 faster Surya Namaskars, mindful stretching, and aikido hand stretches. After this, on all the days I continued with doing the first five aikido basics, starting with 40 back break falls, 20 backward rolls, and 30 forward rolls, practicing the 6 basic movements and the united basic movements. After this, I learnt two new techniques, yokomen uchi ikkajo osae 1 and 2. These were quite similar to the techniques learnt last week, except having the yokomen uchi or side strike, as opposed to front strike. On the third day, I reviewed and practiced these two techniques, after which I practiced 8 cuts in 8 directions with the bokken. I found this week quite helpful as I was able to build on what I had already learnt from last week, and enhance my aikido skills.

Week 5: Jan 4th – I was only able to do 2 practice sessions this week, as I was travelling before and wasn’t able to practice. In this, I did almost the same things as the previous week, starting with the first four warm ups, the first five aikido basics and then practicing all four techniques I had learnt so far. After this, I read over the aikido hand books for adults and youth, focusing on learning the attack, controls and finishes. After this, I started learning about the tanto freestyle as well as the centreline, timing and body mind connection through the videos that were given. I was able to learn a lot of new things in this sessions and will be going over some of the information again, to make sure I remember it. I am looking forward to trying to applying this into my practices in the next weeks.

Week 6: Jan 11th – This week I had 3 practice sessions. All of my practice sessions were quite similar to those of the previous weeks. I started off warming up with 6 slow Surya Namaskars, 6 faster Surya Namaskars, mindful stretches and the aikido stretches. After this I continued by practicing the aikido basics, starting with 60 backbreaking falls, 40 backward rolls and 50 forward rolls (which I am starting to get more comfortable with doing now), and practicing the 6 basic movements. After this, I practiced all the 4 techniques I had learnt so far, repeating each 4 times on each side. Finally, I ended with the united basic movements where I repeated each movement for two minutes before going to the next one. This was extremely tiring as it took a lot of energy to maintain good posture while repeating each movement for 2 minutes. I feel like I was able to improve my basic movement a lot this week through doing that exercise.

Week 7: Jan 18th This week I had roughly the same practices as the weeks before, on all three days. I started with 6 slow and then 6 fast surya namaskars, mindful body stretching and aikido hand stretches, as warm up. I then practiced back break falls, backwards and forward rolls and the individual basic movements, doing each 6 times (right then left). I then practiced the united basic movements, but instead of doing one after another, repeating each twice, I repeated each movement for two minutes before continuing to the next one. This was extremely tiring, but I felt it really improved my posture, helping a lot. After this, I revised the four techniques I had learnt previously, Shomenuchi ikkajo osae (1) , Shomenuchi ikkajo osae (2), Yokomen uchi ikkajo osae (1) and Yokomen uchi ikkajo osae (2). Finally, I ended with some bokken practice and cool-downs.

Week 8: Jan 25th – I had 3 practice sessions this week, doing the same practices as last week, focusing on improving my posture even more, while staying aware of my surroundings and centre. I started with 6 slow and then 6 fast surya namaskars, mindful body stretching and aikido hand stretches, as warm up. I then practiced back break falls, backwards and forward rolls and the individual basic movements, doing each 6 times (right then left). My rolls are getting a lot better now, although still having some trouble with rolling directly straight. I then practiced the united basic movements, but instead of doing one after another, repeating each twice, I repeated each movement for two minutes before continuing to the next one. I was able to get more aquatinted with this style of united basic movements this week, and don’t get as tired when practicing it now. After this, I revised the four techniques I had learnt previously, Shomenuchi ikkajo osae (1) , Shomenuchi ikkajo osae (2), Yokomen uchi ikkajo osae (1) and Yokomen uchi ikkajo osae (2). I feel like I can perform these techniques quite well now, although I wish I had a partner to actually work them out with.

Week 9: Jan 31st – This week I had three practices, all practicing the same things. I started with 6 slow and then 6 fast surya namaskars, mindful body stretching and aikido hand stretches, as warm up. I then practiced back break falls, backwards and forward rolls and the individual basic movements, doing each 6 times, and then the united basic movements where all were done in one cycle, repeated twice (starting with right and the with left). After this, I worked on front strike and front punch with an invisible partner, the 6 tanto holds and tango solo, ending with the meditation + awareness exercise. I really enjoyed this week as I started learning and practicing the tango, which is quite enjoyable, where what I have previously learnt can be applied in a unique way. Looking forward to next week’s sessions.

Week 10: Feb 15th – I had three sessions this week, all of the sessions having the same practices. I warmed up with 6 slow and 6 fast surya namaskars, mindful body stretching and aikido hand stretches, as warm up. After this, I practiced all 5 aikido basics, starting with back break falls, forward rolls, backward rolls, practicing the basic movements and then the united basic movements (practicing this twice, first starting on right side and then left). After this, I practiced the first 5 aikido advanced activities, starting with working on front strike and then front punch with an invisible partner, then practicing on the evasion of the front strike and front punch. After this, I did some bokken practice, practicing the 4 and 8 direction cut, and then the 8 cuts in 8 directions. After this I practiced with the tanto, revising the 6 holds and the tanto solo. I concluded all sessions with 5 minutes of meditation paying complete attention on my surroundings, with my eyes closed. I really enjoyed all of these sessions, having learnt and practiced a lot, building up on my previous skills. After these sessions, I had a video call with Kevin Sensei, where he gave me valuable feedback on all of my basic movements, kamai and my form in general. This was really helpful, and I am looking forward to implementing this feedback in my future practices to hopefully improve my form.

Week 11: Mar 1st – This week I had three practice sessions, all practice sessions consisting of the same activities. This time, there was an addition of a few warm up activities which I was looking forward to doing. I warmed up through first doing mindful stretching, then the aikido hand stretches, jumping jacks and then a cardio workout that I was provided. This was quite tiring as I had never done some of the exercises in the workout before, but in the second and third practice sessions, I was able to get more used to it and improve my stamina. I then went onto practicing the aikido basics, first with back break falls, and the backwards and forward rolls. I then practiced the united basic movement, doing 6 on each side, 3 times slowly and then 3 times faster. I did this for all of the movements, repeating starting from the left side, while doing this the second time. After doing this, I learnt and then practiced the new techniques that I was sent. I was given 6 new techniques, Shomenuchi Ikkajo Osae 1 and 2, Katate Mochie Nikkajo Osae 1 and 2, and Shomenuchi Sankajo Osae 1 and 2. I learnt one set of techniques per session this week, reviewing ones I had previously learnt, after learning the new technique. I found this extremely helpful and I believe now I am better able to remember and perform these techniques. I learnt a lot of new things this week, with the 6 new techniques, which I really enjoyed doing. I am really looking forward to next week’s practice session.

Week 12: Mar 8th – This week I had three practice sessions, which were roughly the same as those last week, except I tried focusing more on my form and position as opposed to just getting and learning that technique. I warmed up with 6 slow surya namaskars, mindful and aikido hand stretches, and the cardio workout. I found this workout a lot easier now, having done it previously in the past week, and was really able to experience the increase in my stamina and energy through practicing it. After doing this, I did the first 5 aikido basic practices. I then revised all the 6 techniques I had learnt, practicing on an invisible partner and focusing fully on my form and posture. After this, I practiced the four techniques I had learnt in weeks previously learnt. Finally, I concluded with a small meditation session to cool off.

Week 13: Mar 21st – This week I had three practice sessions. I was not given any specific instructions to what to do, so I decided to focus on the areas I am weakest at. The first two days, I warmed up with 6 surya namaskars, mindful stretches and aikido hand stretches and the cardio workout. On the first day, I specifically focused on the rolls and falls, spending extra time to make sure I was able to properly do them and not hurt myself in the process. After doing this, I went onto practicing the basic movements doing the 2 minute per movement practice. On the second day, I directly focused and practiced all the 10 techniques I had learnt so far. I made sure to focus on form, my awareness of my surroundings and my posture. I feel I was able to improve a lot through these two sessions. My third session was an online live session with Flo Sensei and other students via YouTube Live. This was more of a conditioning session and we practiced the aikido basics and warm ups. I really enjoyed the live session as it really reminded me of the classes back when I used to live in San Diego, and how they were like. It also felt extremely engaging, having someone there to support you and with all the stories and motivation provided. The next few weeks of practice, while in quarantine, are going to be done over these online mediums, which I am really looking forward to doing. 

Week 14: March 28th – This week I had three practice sessions, on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The sessions on Wednesday and Friday were pretty similar, they were going to be online streaming classes, but that didn’t work. I was then given a few exercises and warm ups to practice and do, in forms of videos. These started with warm up exercises, break falls and then workouts of different parts of the body. After doing this, I went back to reviewing the different techniques I had previously learnt. After doing this, I decided to do bokken practice, practicing the different cuts, and the 8 directions 8 cuts. I then concluded these two sessions with cool downs exercises and silent meditation. Saturday onwards, all the practice sessions had been moved to online Zoom calls. We started on Saturday with warm ups — jumping and stretches. After this we practiced our break falls, and then zen salutations. There were 2 different levels of the zen salutations which, I had found quite difficult, requiring a lot of balance. I then worked on pushups, and then reverse pushups. This was done at three different levels, which I found quite difficult, often having to speed up, not holding for the full amount of time. Then, we practiced the united basic movements, where I found that I needed to work on opening up my shoulders more, which would improve my posture. We then proceeded to do bokken practice, learning two different strikes, shomenuchi, and yokomenuchi. After this, we did some cool downs and were told the story to conclude the session. I found this week very challenging, as a lot of new exercises were worked on, working more on aspects of balance and flexibility, which I am not that great at. I am looking forward to improve these aspects, through more practice

Week 15: April 4th – This week I was only able to attend two practice sessions, on Wednesday and Saturday. On Wednesday we started with warm ups — jumping and stretches. After this we proceeded to work on abs, with different ab workouts. After this, we did some zen salutations, having three different levels this time. I found that my balance had improved a lot, through doing these, and I was able to better execute them now. We then practiced break falls, and then forward and backward rolls. As opposed to what I was previously doing, these were done from the sitting position. I found this a lot easier, as there was a lesser chance of me hitting anything and I was able to roll in a straight line a lot easier. After this, we did bokken practice, trying to do the basic movements with the bokken. We were only able to do the first two in this class, and will be learning the rest in future classes. After this we did some cool downs, and were told a story to conclude the class. On Saturday we also started with warm ups, zen salutations, abs, working on push ups, and then rolls. After this, we worked on evasion of strikes, either with a partner or invisible partner, and then working on striking. We proceeded with practicing the united basic movements, free hand, and then with bokken. We then concluded the class with some cool downs, a story, a silent meditation and a bingo activity. 

Week 16: April 11thThis week I had 3 practice sessions, on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The first two sessions both started with first warmups of jumping and stretching, followed by zen salutations of different levels and then pushups. The first session continued with back break falls, working on a different style in using your hands. We then went onto bokken training, first working on bokken striking (8 direction 8 cuts) and basic movements with bokken. We then went back into working on the back break falls, cooling of with stretches and a story. The session on Friday continued with push ups, focusing on form, going to three different levels. After this we started weapons training, first working with the bokken in practicing different strikes and the basic movements. In this, we worked on doing the united basic movements with the bokken, which I found a bit challenging. I was able to get this with a few practices/run throughs. After this we went into practicing with the jo. I was not quite used to this, and too some time to learn and get used to. After this we did some guided meditation, followed by an abs working to strengthen the core. To cool down, we did some stretches. The session on Saturday mainly focused on balance and having the whole body in line. We started with a warm ups, stretching and jumping. We then went on to do yoga flow exercises and some balance challenges. I felt like practicing balance has helped me a lot, which I was able to see through my improvement in these exercises and challenges. After this, we were told two stories, having morals of being defensive, patient, going with the flow and not being arrogant. I find that these stories really help and aid what we are learning, enjoying them very much. After this we concluded class with bokken training, working on the united basic movements with the bokken. I felt I had improved a lot on this, from the previous class.

Week 17: April 18th – This week I had two practice sessions, on Wednesday and Saturday. This week we particularly focused on our posture, and improving it in general. We started the session on Wednesday with warmups of jumping and stretches. After this, we did some push up challenges first normal pushups, then three level pushups, where we hold our form at different times, and then reverse pushups. I had done this a few times in previous sessions and was a lot more comfortable with doing these, then before. After this we did the posture challenges, where with weights we did different exercises to improve general posture. After this we practiced back break falls, starting with normal back break falls, back break falls slapping the side when on the ground, and then back break falls jumping to push ups each time. After this, we did an abs workout, which I was able to get a lot better at while still finding it challenging. We then practiced the free hand basic movements, and then basic movements with the bokken. We concluded this session with some cool down stretches. The session on Saturday started with warmups of stretching and jumping. After this we did some posture training with weights, then working out with stuffed animals. This was really fun, and a new and unique method in working on full body workouts. After this we did some guided meditation, which I found really helpful and calming, followed by a balance challenge. This was the end of the class, but I decided I wanted to practice some more, and practiced the united basic movements (free hands), once on both sides, before concluding the session. I really enjoyed working on posture this week, and I was really able to experience an improvement in my posture in normal things I did every day.

Week 18: April 25th – This week I had three practice sessions, on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The session on Wednesday started warming up with stretches and jumping challenges, with 3 different levels. After this we practiced back break falls, first practicing the normal ones, and then falls going into pushup and jumping back. I felt that I was getting a lot better at this, and was able to stay balanced and not fall over when doing this, when going at a faster pace. After this we did a plank challenge, followed by a balance challenge with weights. After this, we practiced the basic movements with Josh sensei from Japan. From the corrections I received previously, I tried to focus more on my deep stance and having more of an extension. After this, we did an abs workout with stuffed animals, ending the class with a story. Friday’s session started off with warmups such as stretching and jumping. After this, we did the plank challenge, with more variations of planks this time, such as the side and spider plank. Then, we did a full body workout with our stuffed animals. After this we did some posture training with weights. I tried using heavier weights than last time, which I felt helped me open up my posture more. After this we practiced the basic movements, first free hand and then with bokken (only working on the first basic movement with bokken). After this, we concluded the session with eye stretches, which I found extremely helpful. On Saturday, Flo Sensei had asked me to join a bit earlier, because she was going to give me some insight into improving my 4th basic movement. She advised me on trying to focus on going into more of a deep stance, and focusing more on using my elbows, keeping more inline with my hips. Doing this, I was able to feel a lot more stable and powerful when doing this basic movement. We started the class with warmups of stretches and jumping. After this, we worked on zen salutations and stretches. After this, we did an abs workout with stuffed animals, followed by a legs workout. After this, we practiced the basic movements, where I tried to implement the feedback previously given, in working more on my deep stance, keeping my elbows inside and forward, and keeping my whole back/body in line. After doing this, we practiced the 8 direction cut, using free hand. After this we concluded the class with some cool down exercises and posture exercises, focusing on shoulder motion.

Week 19: May 2nd – This week I had two practice sessions, on Wednesday and Saturday. The session on Wednesday started with reverse pushups, followed by abs workout with stuffed animals. After this, we worked on back break falls going into pushups. I was previously struggling in keeping up with the pace when doing these back break falls. Now, I was able to keep up with the pace, while being a lot more stable and centered. After this, we worked on the united basic movements with bokken. I tried to focus on the aspects of improvement when working on these basic movements. The session was then concluded with cool down leg stretches with the belt, helping loosen leg muscles. We started the session on Saturday with warmups, mainly focusing on whole body and specific aikido hand stretches. After this, we did a balance challenge, with 3 different levels. I found the first two levels relatively easier than the last one of extending the whole body out while balancing on one leg (horizontally), with the other leg bent. After this, we practiced the basic movements with bokken, working on only the first 4 basic movements. I tried focusing on keeping my body/back in a straight line while moving, and going more into deep stance. I feel I was able to do this quite well, and was told I could improve through relaxing my shoulders more and extending when cutting, as opposed to using my muscles. We concluded the session with some silent meditation, helping me be more aware of my surroundings and center. I am looking forward to implementing the feedback given this week into my basic movements, to further enhance and improve them. 

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