Friday, 22 July 2011

When the worlds of aikido and running collide

I did our local Pants in the Park 5k race last Sunday, in aid of prostate cancer.
In case you didn't know, the idea for the race is to show your pants off! And you could say that hakama are pretty large pants at that. Unfortunately it was quite wet, so attendance was low compared with previous years.

I wore my running shorts and singlet underneath, but don't think I'll be making a habit of running in my aikido kit! Once I'd registered, I did a couple of laps of the track as my warm up, and found my hakama eventually got a bit bunched up and then muddy because of its length.

They gave out prizes at the end for best pants, and I got a special mention along with a man wearing a very fetching Borat green mankini! Seems his outfit had the opposite problem to mine, as he said he suffered from frequent wedgies all the way round.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Philofaxy and stationery-nerdiness

As mentioned in my previous post here, I've got a bit of a thing for stationery. On my way home from secondary school, I would often visit a local store to window shop all the lovely pens and notebooks. I thought this was normal behaviour, I guess...

I haven't bought a notebook (for the sole reason it was yummy) since I discovered filofaxes a couple of years ago. "What do you mean, a notebook where I can move all the contents around and add to??" I know I get way too excited (to be normal) over filofaxes, pens and the such, but I figure it's a pretty harmless addiction and relatively inexpensive as long as I browse more than I purchase!

If you're a stationery or filofax fan like myself, you should get yourself over to
The first posts date back to 2005, so there's lots of stories, hints and tips, the odd competition and other filofax-goodness to peruse. They also organise regular Skype chats and international meet-ups

I think what I like most is that the site has a community feel to it, which I didn't really expect. The posts and subsequent comments are funny, interesting, helpful and encouraging. I'm disappointed I'm not available to attend the next London meet-up to meet some of these lovely people face to face.   
Go and say hello, they'll be pleased to see you there :)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Pulse diagnosis

I recently attended a pulse diagnosis course with the lovely George Dellar of the Wiltshire Acupuncture Practice.

'Reading the pulse according to Oriental Medicine provides information about the patient's entire constitution and condition. It accurately reflects the state of the Ki, the Blood, of Yin and Yang in the body, and of the internal Organs' - Shiatsu: The Complete Guide by Chris Jarmey and Gabriel Mojay.

We did cover the subject briefly during my shiatsu course, but it seemed quite complex. Every thing I have read since says things like 'it is an extremely complex subject with many ramifications', which has actually put me off further study! So I was very pleased when I found out that George was going to run a day's course.

Like much of traditional Chinese medicine, it's very much to do with looking for what really stands out and then deciding on what that means. The pulse is taken with the first 3 fingers and those positions provide information on specific channels or meridians. For example, on the right side the 1st position refers to the Lung channel, the 2nd to Stomach/Spleen and the 3rd to Kidney Yang/Large Intestine.

There are also other qualities to take into account:
  • Depth
  • Speed
  • Width
  • Strength
  • Shape
  • Length
  • Rhythm.
All of these can give an indication of signs such as Heat, Cold or deficiency of Qi. Combining the quality of the pulse with the location of any noticeable variations from the norm starts to put together your diagnosis. 

At the end of the day, we did a detailed diagnosis and got feedback. I was very impressed that my partner could work out what was going on just from feeling my wrists, amazing! Her diagnosis was Lung and Spleen Qi deficiency. Spot on, as I've recently recovered from a long-term cough and been feeling pretty tired since my dan grading.
I now feel my day's course has given me more confidence to use pulse diagnosis further in my treatments. Another tool in my toolkit to help me work out what's going on with my clients.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Black belt

I've been practising aikido since 2004 and recently passed my 1st dan grading.  I don't know what I expected, but have now realised it's a really BIG deal!

In the past I haven't enjoyed many of my gradings or other exams, either due to nerves or being unhappy with my performance. 
On the day, I woke up at 6:00 a.m. with a smile on my face! Any nerves had gone and I was just very excited. When I was called up in front of the 6 grading officers, I couldn't help coming up wearing a huge grin. The weirdness started once I began the movements... is this me... I feel very relaxed... oops, there's another kotagaeshi whilst I sort myself out... and then very little thought at all, except to keep going.

The world just fell away, apart from my uke and I. No time to think, no time to doubt. I can honestly say it's the longest time I've been that present, what an amazing mindfulness experience. I was only really aware of the grading officers when I realised I was about to aim my uke at them! I've done much more perfect technique in class, but am proud of the positivity I showed and that I kept going without any signs of stress.

I don't know if it's strange to say I feel I've changed and can't go back. Some thing has shifted and I'm still finding out just what that means. I predicted I would have to work quite a bit on my self belief to pass and I was right. Previously, I've lost count of the number of times I've stopped myself during a movement, and been doing it right any way. 
On the face of it, my aikido belt is a darker colour, but it means much more than that.