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Animal movement and free flow forms

Updated: May 2

The adult class are an awesome bunch of pirates and have taken in their stride the introduction of two 'animal movement' exercises, namely the lizard crawl and the gorilla. Both forms have been introduced as part of our over all development in getting mat fit.

For those unsure what animal and free flow movement is, it's training exercises to help build the body to act 'naturally' under stress and maintain a relaxed mindset during such times. Soke Gwynne Jones refers this concept as being relaxed and moving naturally, where he uses the simple act of walk as an example. As ever, I've taken his points and looked into them, finding comparison to other modern methods of training in systems such as MMA and Brazilian Ju Jitsu. Rikson Gracie in his autobiography 'Breathe' references his training with animal movements where Connor McGregor is the other popular reference I use in context to the 'lizard crawl'. I laugh at myself at the reaction and reception I get from the wider circles in aikido when I mention it, amusement and polite acceptance are the best I get. However, I maintain an open mindset and will continue to adapt and experiment in keeping our training relevant and modern. Modern! It still seems to be a dirty word in aikido circles!

However, the choice of these two particular forms has been a simple matter of the muscle groups and sport science. Both exercises compliment the natural movement found in aikido. For the lizard crawl, the emphasis is the core muscle groups combined with building natural body strength. For the gorilla (a plank in a deep squat stress position), it is again, core muscle strength, whilst opening up & strengthening the hip flexors whilst also building the leg muscles.

As ever, am mindful of the individual abilities in the class so am ensuring we build up slowly and over time. I'm then complimenting the classes cardio and fitness levels by immediately following these exercises with randori as part of their warm down for the evening. It's a joy to see the way in which each individual student is taking on the challenge.

Focus for this term:

Confidence in ukemi rolls are building up at a steady pace where individual students are now progressing onto the next stage. Am a little excited to say we've finally introduced 'flips'. All students have now locked the 1st SGT kata and 21 jo kata so we're now expanding out to the (nine) kumi jo, where last week we introduced 1-4 as a solo exercise and have now developed into paired work. A few more weeks to lock 1-4 in and we'll be moving onto the next stage. Syllabus work continues to improve with everyone able to name techniques and attacks according to their grade. The emphasis is on on the 1st tai gi, where my own development is the 2nd tai gi which was introduced awhile back (and isn't to be confused with the ryote dori tai gi).

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