Grab My Wrist

Aikido is a dynamic art. At it’s best, you should meet an aggressor’s attack, be it punch, kick, stab, or swinging bat, with a fluid blending response that redirects that energy into a flowing technique. In this way, you defend yourself, neutralize the aggressor, and end the threat. Not that I can do this very well, but that is the idea.

Here’s a video of a demonstration. It looks like dance and of course this is a demonstration in a public venue, but I assure you, the training necessary just be the attacker and then take those falls so smoothly is one of the hardest parts of the art.

You don’t start out like this. Heck, you don’t look like this after five years. To learn the basics you need a starting point. To learn to blend, to feel, control, and respond to the aggressor’s energy. In many situations, to begin training, it is done from a grab. You present your wrist, the aggressor grabs it, and from that static position, you begin to learn the rudiments of Aikido.

It becomes an inside joke, “Grab my wrist.”

There are forums and blogs for everything. One of Aikido forums I frequent is AikiWeb. From there I visit some of the blogs they highlight. One of them that I’ve been visiting regularly is called Grab My Wrist. A wonderful blog title. It’s written by another person who came to Aikido in middle age, about her experiences learning and exploring the art.

Last night I clicked on her link to see if she had updated and found this post. It’s a quote from Steve Jobs, who has had some reasons to reflect on his mortality. Serendipity or synchronicity or just randomness, here it is.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
–Steve Jobs


I Lost a Friend Today

I’d known him four years. We were both members of the Aikido dojo. He had started about a year before me, and was scheduled to test for shodan (black belt) next month. I have his 10 page written paper in my email. I had helped him edit it.

He was 65. An ARMY veteran from Vietnam. He had the CIB tatooed on his shoulder. Didn’t tell a lot of stories, but he was the real deal.

He was funny. Liked a joke, the raunchier the better.

He had one son, and earlier this month traveled to Vermont to see his newborn grandchild for the first time.

He had a beautiful Harley and loved to ride.

He was in very good physical shape. Worked as a personal trainer.

His Aikido had improved a lot in the last year or so, and he was great to work out with. He had helped me a lot. Being an old fart myself, it was an inspiration to see someone 10 years older out there on the mats going full speed.

He died in his sleep this morning, Memorial Day 2011.

Camp next month will have a hole in it. The dojo will be smaller.

I am diminished.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
–Mahatma Gandhi

.22 Challenge Updates

First, to answer a question, submit as many targets as you like, in both categories.

Mr. B. at In The Middle Of The Right posts his targets, scoped and un-scoped. He stands up the new lead with a 23 (scoped). He also sets the bar un-scoped with a 10. He joins the blogroll. Both his targets and his observations can be found on his blog. The target posted here is the current leader.

Shy Wolf at Wolf Tracks offered his frustration, but not a target. Asked me to let Ye Old Furt know that his current plan involved whittling a pencil down to .22 and seeing how well he could stab a score. Also joining the blogroll.

JP 5.56 at Eyes Never Closed
had a good day at the range, but battled the wind and only offered a glimpse of his target.

Hat Trick scored an 8 and made a comment I agree with. When you put full effort into this, it is mentally draining. He also suggested a scoring change, but since it’s clear that there will be future challenges, I’m not going to change the scoring system for this one. His might have been a better idea, but too many targets are already in to change it now.

Ye Old Furt at Old Lightning is still practicing and now has HB, his wife, wanting to take her single shot .22 out and give it a try.

UPDATES: Keads at Another Day….Another puts up a teaser of the rifles he will be shooting tomorrow.

Six and Lu went shooting. Pictures not just of the .22 challenge, but a Blackhawk and a Vaquero in action as well.

Memorial Day

Remembering the Brave is an organization that makes efforts to honor the widows, parents, and children of servicemen and women that have died on active duty. One of the ways they do that is with formal dinners held around the country. There was one held at the Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virgina in October of 2009 and Jensen Sutta photographed it. This slide show was made from those pictures.

It isn’t just the ones that die. It’s everyone they left behind. Enjoy the long weekend. Remember.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
–Laurence Binyon

Looking Back at 100,000

I didn’t have a tracker for the first several months, but I didn’t have any readers then, either. I’ve put up 1100+ posts. Sometime today or tomorrow the site will top 100,000 views. Here’s my third post from July 2008. It’s the first one that was personal, and it reads pretty well.

That recruit is now a Lance Corporal, serving as a gunner on an MRAP on convoy duty out of Camp Leatherneck. He sent me some pictures and we got to chat yesterday when he was at the USO. Here’s one he took recently.

So for now, I’ll keep doing this, it’s been rewarding, and I’ve made some new friends. Thanks for being my readers, for coming back day after day and for your thoughts shared by comments and email.

…if you think the United States is still the greatest country on the planet, the Constitution means what the words say on the parchment, words like honor, freedom, commitment, and sacrifice stir you, the flag waving as the National Anthem is played brings you to your feet, and the Marine Corps Hymn still gives you goosebumps, bookmark this page and come back.
–ASM826, from the first post on Random Acts of Patriotism, July 2nd, 2008