Zen Week Sept 13th–17th, 2010 with Dan Kawakami & Jake McKee

August 23rd, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Techniques No Responses
Zen Week Sept 13th–17th, 2010 with Dan Kawakami & Jake McKee

Dan Kawakami & Jake McKee will lead a morning zazen class. There will be a short lecture each morning followed by zazen (seated meditation) and will end with some mind/body exercises. Start your day off with us and feel calm, centered, and clear all day long.


7441 Anaconda Ave.

Garden Grove, CA 92841


7am – 8:15am

Doors lock at 7am so don’t be late

Wear loose clothing (dogi or sweatpants are fine)

Bring zafu & zabuton if you have them

Bring a pillow if you don’t

Max 10 students, RSVP to guarantee your spot


$5 per day

$20 for the week

Aiki Push Hands (with video)

February 4th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Techniques, Video No Responses
Aiki Push Hands (with video)

One of the challenges that all Aikido teachers face is how to get students to stop relying on brute strength to move their partners. It was this challenge that led me to develop an exercise that I call “Aiki Push Hands“.

In this exercise both partners place their hands together and try to push each other over. It is exactly this kind of training that shows how reliance on muscular strength will not bring you to your goal.

By keeping your upper body relaxed and fluid, you can move and be able to absorb your partners pushes. By keeping tension in your hara (lower abdomen) you become very stable and difficult to push over.

I find this exercise to be a great way to start the class. Aiki Push Hands helps to get student’s minds off of strength and allows them to feel more of the relaxed power we are striving to develop.

Aikido Randori

January 12th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Techniques, Video No Responses
Aikido Randori

For this exercise, the attackers (uke) were instructed to try to grab both of the collars to immobilize the defender (nage). Strikes are not allowed.

This type of training teaches one not to get stuck in one place, to keep moving, to find the opening, and to not move from where you are being held.

While you are held if you get nervous, tensions rise, muscles get tight, and you will soon find you are stuck in your tracks.

It can be very difficult to move when 3 people are holding on to you but with a calm mind, good hip movement, rotation, ducks, and spins, we can usually find a way out.

Perhaps this can be a metaphor for life. Sometimes you may feel stuck and that there’s no way out of a problem. Outside pressures are coming in but don’t stay immobilized. Keep moving… maybe there’s an easy solution?

Some good practical self defense techniques

January 21st, 2009 by twistingwrists Categories: Techniques One Response
Some good practical self defense techniques

Here are some good “street-practical” self defense moves I came across online.

I hope you all can learn something! :)

Top 10 Tips for Being a Good Uke

January 14th, 2009 by twistingwrists Categories: Techniques, Words 5 Responses
Top 10 Tips for Being a Good Uke

Anyone that trains in any martial art knows there are you people you really enjoy training with and there are probably peoplle that you don’t enjoy training with as much. How about you? Do people enjoy training with you? Or do they dodge you to train with someone else? Here for your enjoyment are my top 10 tips on being a good uke:

#10 Practice good hygiene

It seems like common sense but I’ve trained with guys that have long nails (which can cut other students) or other guys that smelled like they haven’t showered in days. The dojo is a special place. Make sure your nails are short, make sure you took a shower recently, and if you smoke *please* wash your hands before touching others!

#9 Keep your gear in good condition

I’ve ripped a few gis in my life. Some of them were my own and some were my training partners. That’s why I always recommend a woven gi (Judo style) rather than a Karate style gi. Woven cotten just holds up to the rigors of training so much more. As for weapons, at any time you notice a crack stop training with your jo or bokken (solo kata is ok). Making weapon to weapon contact with a cracked jo/ken can cause it to come apart which could cause injury to a classmate. There’s not much gear that an aikidoka needs. Keep it in top shape.

#8 Be sensitive to atemi

Some guys use a lot of atemi (strikes) some don’t use any.  I’ve seen guys get punched in the face just because they weren’t expecting an atemi. Don’t be that guy. Don’t assume, your partner won’t strike given the opportunity. Aikido training is a martial art and as martial artists we must always be prepared for the unknown.

#7 When striking, stay on target

I’m not sure why some people do this. I think it’s a case of trying to be nice. Sometimes when striking, even though I’m standing still, the strike will go to the side and miss me. If you’re going to strike like that, why do I have to even move! I appreciate kindness, but this is not the place for that. If you are striking, stay on target and punch like you are going to go right through me. Strike yokomen like you’re going to take my head off. Believe it or not, it actually makes it easier to do the technique properly when you are striking  in the right place.

#6 Attack strongly

We are training to deal with an attack so shouldn’t the attack be as close to reality as we can? A weak strike doesn’t motivate nage to move off the line quickly. Also, nage doesn’t feel much mental pressure from a weak attack. Training hard means training sincerely.

#5 Gauge the strength of your attack by the experience of nage

While a strong attack is good, hurting nage is not. There will be some people that you can strike as hard as you want with. They will smile at the challenge to deal with the intensity that you create. When it’s their turn, they will strike back hard and you will have a good workout. There will be others that due to their age, lack of experience, or their disposition, that will not be able to handle such strong attacks. Maybe they will in time, but for now, strike and grab with less intensity. Provide as much as they can handle and not more. We’re training to grow and improve but not to get hurt.

#4 Have intention in your attacks

How many times have you had someone grab and become a wet noodle? Or maybe you’ve had someone strike yokomen and then plant their feet. In aikido, we learn how to blend with incoming energy. If your attacks have no intention, if your attacks start and then stop, then you’re not giving your partner anything to work with. It’s much more fun (and realistic) to strike like you expect to hit nage. And grabbing like you expect to move nage.

#3 Stay in balance when striking

While having intention is great, sometimes people get carried away and act like a bull at a bull fight. They strike and run right past you. If all I need to do is to step off the line and you fall down, then there’s no reason for me to do a technique. It’s a tricky balance to find. Strike honestly but don’t fall down at the slightest touch…

#2 Use resistance as a training tool – not a frustration tool

Resistance is something to play with carefully in aikido. Too much resistance and it becomes a grappling match. Too little and it becomes dancing. If you always stop your partner’s movement (especially if they are lower rank than you) it can become very frustrating. If nage is making the same mistakes over and over than sure, resisting their “wrong” movement is appropriate. Then you can teach them how to move properly. If you are just resisting their movement every time then you aren’t helping them learn.

#1 Make sure your ukemi is good

If your ukemi is not good then you will always be nervous about taking the falls and this will hinder the movement. Aikido becomes a lot more fun when you can move and fly through the air without worrying about getting hurt on impact. Of all the techniques taught in an aikido class, ukemi is probably the most likely to be used outside of the dojo. Ukemi should be developed to the point where it becomes instinctual. At higher levels of training oftentimes you have no idea where or how you will be thrown. If your ukemi is good it won’t matter because you’ll be able to blend and take a safe fall from whatever throw comes.

So those were the top 10 qualities that I see in a good uke. How about you? Did I miss anything?

Aiki Push Hands

January 8th, 2009 by twistingwrists Categories: Techniques 3 Responses
Aiki Push Hands

This is an exercise that I use as a warm up oftentimes in my class. I like to start  off with something to ease the students into the techniques and I found that everyone (regardless of rank or experience) can participate in this.

To begin, each pair stands about 2 feet apart with hands starting about chest level with palms facing outward. Each student places his palms against the palms of his partner. There is no leader or follower. Either person can lead. The object is to off-balance your partner and to make him move one or both feet. You can affect the balance of your partner by pushing.

The rules are simple:

1) You can’t grab the other persons hand. The palms are held flat against one another and in constant contact.

2) You can’t move your feet. If you do, you lose. Then you reset and start again.

I’ve found that this is a simple to learn exercise that forces the students to relax their upper body and to increase body sensitivity. Sensitivity to when you are becoming out of balance and also when your partner is not in optimal balance – that is when to push to try make your partner move.

If you have an opportunity, try out Aiki Push Hands. If any of you want to see a video clip let me know and I’ll film something. If you try it let me know what you think – whether you like it or hate it!

Steve & Isaac are blending and looking for an opening.

Steve & Isaac are blending and looking for an opening.

Still looking for an opening...

Still looking for an opening...

There it is! Isaac pushes and causes Steve to lose his base and fall back.

There it is! Isaac pushes and causes Steve to lose his base and fall back.