Sunday, July 31, 2011

Aikido Technique: Ryote-tori Tenchi-nage Irimi

One of our (Dojin Aikikai is the our in this case) former Aikido students who is now studying Karate with me was asking me about the usage of Tenchi-nage, and how he doesn't feel he ever really "got" the technique and didn't feel comfortable with it. In his case it would be the titled Ryote-tori (two hands grabbing two wrists from the front) Tenchi-nage (Heaven and Earth Throw) Irimi (into your opponent) (your transliteration may vary). Unfortunately for him, the school he was attending was shut down abruptly, but that's a different story, at a point in his training where he was expected to explore the technique beyond the basic mechanics of it.

Knowing that if one person has a question about something, there are probably more, and the fact that his question forced me to explore a technique I hadn't given a second thought to in 3+ years, I figured I'd do a little break down of the technique.

Now, for those unfamiliar with the art of Aikido as it exists outside of Steven Seagal movies, there are 2 training principles you need to know for this to make sense. One, Aikido is an amalgam martial art, you could call it a mixed martial art, but as that particular phrase is now almost exclusively associated with UFC style fighting, it presents an unrealistic image of what Aikido is to people, so I use amalgam. It is a blend of jujutsu (wrestling) with kenjustsu (sword fighting), yarijutsu (spear fighting), and kyudo (archery) movements and principles. The kyudo is what we are going to look at this time. Two, there are some Aikido techniques that exist not for their particular combat effectiveness, but as a teaching tool and stepping stone to future techniques. Ryote-tori Tenchi-nage Irimi is one of those "teaching techniques".

So, if you open your copy of Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere to page...wait, you don't keep a copy on you at all times? Ok, well, if you do find a copy, Projection #9, which begins on page 271 is Tenchi-nage Tenkan (around). The tenkan version is what would be combat applicable, and the irimi version which we are talking about leads into that one.

Before we go into the mechanics of the technique, we need to focus on what the technique is supposed to teach. The technique's main focus is to teach extension and projection with a lesser focus getting your hands to do two things at once. It's a good white belt technique because those the first two (and sometimes the third) are among the hardest concepts for the beginning Aikidoka (Eye-Kee-Doe-Ka)to get, that you have to extend through the target and the project them away.

To start with, both partners stand facing each other, at about half ma-ai (in Aikido, we generally just use one "fighting distance" if both partners extend both their arms straight out from the shoulders, making fists, and approach each other until their knuckles touch, this is ma-ai, also called So-ou Ma-ai. It is enough distance that you can take 1 step and strike your partner). The Uke ("fall guy" or the attacker) reaches out and grabs both the Nage's ("thrower" or the defender) wrists.

The nage then steps forward with one foot. The nage wants to just pass to the outside of the uke's foot and behind it, the hand on that side needs to reach down as if trying to pick up an object just beyond the point of their toe. At the same time, the opposite hand draws back to the nage's cheek/ear and rotates away from the body so that the palm is facing down. as you move forward, this hand will end up slightly behind the nage.

At this point, the uke needs to just stand there and try to hold on. The uke shouldn't move their feet (but if the first step is done right, the uke is often forced to step back with one foot to maintain balance and not fall) or let go if possible. Remember, we aren't concerned with combat effectiveness, we are concerned with learning principles. I know no one is going to just grab your wrists and stand there, but we aren't concerned with that now. What the uke needs to do is provide feed back to the nage. If the technique is correct so far, the uke should feel like they are starting to fall backwards, in some cases, with a nice deep extension of the downward hand and an uke whose back is not that flexible, they will even fall at this point, that's good. If the uke does not feel themselves falling or on the verge of falling, they need to let the nage know. It is a sign that the nage's first step and downward hand extension was not far enough behind the uke or went too wide, and they should return to the start position and begin again.

Once the uke's balance is broken, the nage steps forward with the other foot, bringing it towards and past the initial step, so that both feet end up on one side of the uke. The hand that is by the cheek extends forward and past the uke's ear, as if trying to grab an object off a far wall. At this point, the uke will be falling backwards, and would be advised to let go and execute a backfall or roll, if they haven't done so already.

Now, you say to me "Wait. I can't just walk forward, he's still there, I'll bump him, or worse, get kicked in the jimmy as he falls backwards!" Not true. If your second hand extends past the uke and you are really reaching, you will find that you have just accomplished "projection" and they will fall backward and away from you, and you have also just experienced another Aikido concept called "Body Displacement". Basically, physics tells us that two objects cannot occupy the same point in space/time simultaneously. Since the nage will now find their ending position to be just about where the uke was standing, this means the uke is moved out of the way. Body Displacement is a wonderful concept that comes into play in many martial arts techniques whether the practitioner understands it or not, but that's a different, and perhaps longer discussion.

Friday, July 29, 2011

$30 Pull List for 7/27/2011

While there was nothing outstanding in comics this week, there was a lot of very good. And I mean a lot, even cashing in my 25% off card, somethings that caught my eye didn't make it home. This was a good week. A good week brings good comics in abundance, as we go In Search of... The $30 Pull List.

Captain America & Bucky #620: Zipping back to 1940, it tells the secret origin of Bucky from James Barnes point of view, from the tragedy that left him an orphan to his secret training with SAS to his assignment as Cap’s partner. Not really all that much here, but Brubaker & Co (masters of the slow burn plot) have bought a lot of leeway with me over the years, so we’ll see where this goes.

Birds of Prey #14: The issue from a few weeks ago that didn’t come in made it this week. It’s the first half of a two partner that caps the series by revisiting OG BOP Phantom Lady, Zinda, and the original Black Canary. A case from 1950 comes back to haunt them. It’s a strictly paint by the numbers story a couple of minor art/color gaffes, but it otherwise hits all the beats it needs to in the right order.

Teen Titans #98: Sigh. It’s like JT Krul woke up and said, “I need to destroy all the good will Teen Titans has built up so everyone will be happy when we reboot in 3 issues.” First, I have to deal with a story featuring Superboy Prime, one who looks like Bruce Campbell circa Evil Dead and has apparently studied Tai Chi. Next, Indigo was a member of the Outsiders, not the Teen Titans, and she wasn't a member until after Donna was killed. Tim could be saying our team meaning “The Good Guys”, but then it wasn't Indigo that killed Donna Troy and Lilith, it was a robot Superman (Indigo was only responsible for it's reactivation), I could just be lashing out like a continuity fanboy though. Minus that, this was a halfway decent issue, not up to the last arch's standard, but good enough.

Secret Warriors #28: The series finale ties up the plot and sends Nick Fury off into the sunset, at least until he takes over SHIELD again when they decide Captain America doesn’t need to do it anymore. This is a series that can’t be taken on individual issues, and really needs to be seen in its entirety. Alone, this issue is nothing special, but if read as the final chapter of a saga, it is a fitting end to the story.

X-Men Schism #2:Pick of the week. Part 2 of 5, and Cyclops loses his perspective. Stuck in a no win situation in regards to the mutant terrorist, Scott picks the worst option. He pisses of Wolverine, lies to Steve Rogers, and shows almost no political savvy. But it actually fits. It fits with the way he's been portrayed the last few years, and fits with his position of establishing a mutant nation that will not be bullied. In a week with lots of strong, but nothing outstanding, the most character and plot development wins.

Bomb Queen: All Girl Special #1: Bomb Queen is one of my guilty pleasures, one I normally get in trade because it reads better that way. This is a one and done that acts as a transition between BQ 6 and BQ 7. A Xanatos Gambit on behalf of our Beloved Queen (not their Beloved Queen) succeeds in a surprising way against the quintet of Shadowline's female heroes. It maintains the quality that has been consistently above average for the entire series.

Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #2: Like most of Brubaker's work and the currently ongoing Blue Estate, each issue doesn't seem to do that much and is difficult to take on their own. With each issue, you have to go back and read all the previous issues to capture what is happening. This one pushes the plot forward and closes the first act with what you knew was coming, but were excited about anyway. Like all Criminal issues, this one closes with an essay, and while previous issues introduced me to noir classics I had never seen, this one brings back warm memories of In Search Of...

Cobra #3: Tomax proves that with a big enough lever, the largest boulder can be moved. He also gives a shout out the the production companies behind the classic GI Joe cartoons. On the Joe side, Steeler knows there is a leak in the Joes, and he thinks he may have just found it. Next issue, Vengeance will most definitely ensue. Cobra is the more cerebral of the three Joe comics, and it continues in that form.

Chopping Block:
Fables #107: Looking in on the going ons around Briar Rose. With various warlords vying to be the new emperor, one sees his chance in the awakening of Sleeping Beauty. Too bad the goblins have a different idea. A step up from the Mr. Dark story, thankfully.

Secret Avengers #15: Slipping from Solid to Chopping Block. What is really an excellent example of modern comic artwork is marred by the story. It serves as a Fear Itself aftermath issue and wants to be a serious discussion on death and loss in the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, it is hammy, heavy handed, and poorly executed.

Death Row:
Gotham City Sirens #25: The good news is: I have nothing bad to say about this issue. The bad news is: I have nothing good to say about this issue.

Total Price: $31.97 with my cashed in frequent visitor card.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Response to my JLA #59 review

For my less than dozen fans that may not have read the comments on my last $30 pull list, let me bring something forward to everyone.

Let's start with me original comment:
Sigh. I know this series and the collaboration of this creative team is ending, and with the last three issues, they need to be split up. Once again, a simple and obvious error in the artwork (middle panel page 2 features the death of a character who reappears on page 5) shows a lack of caring. One issue left in this run, and it can't come soon enough.

That prompted this response from Clara Fructuoso:
on JLA#59 there's no lack of caring, character on page 2 is Dick Grayson, and character of page 5 is Bruce Wayne, with the other old members of JLA, take your time before to write reviews, and maybe you will not write wrong things like this one

I responded with:
Please look again. Both Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson Batman appear on that page. One in the lower right corner, the other just below Superman's trailing boot and above Green Arrow's head.

If you can tell me who the other person in the cowl is, I will certainly listen to it.

Well, someone could tell me who it was, Dani Sampere, the penciler on issues 58 and 59 (his blogs leading image is actually the pages in question). Here's Dani's explanation:
the small head is red robin

but certainly, we can't see it good enough and there's some confusion, I'm apologize for that, but was hard to do, so much characters in not much space.

and the colorist done it grey too like batman,but the idea was red robin.

It was very cool of Dani to respond, and to apologize for something that wasn't his fault as well.

And finally, my response to Dani:
Thank you, I appreciate the clarification, from the artist no less.

I appreciate the time you took to look me up and shed some insight into what happened.

It's errors like that and what happened on Titans Annual #1 that should be picked up by the editors. And my comments on not caring are really directed at them. I know a lot of people contribute on every comic, mistakes happen, but ultimately, it comes down to the editors to locate and make sure those mistakes are fixed before the issue is published.

So that's it. Page 5, the second Batman is supposed to be Red Robin, but a mistake in coloring happened.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

$30 Pull List for 7/20/2011

Overall, a really good week in comics. A week that is stacked like Power Girl, smooth like Snake Eyes, and bright as Solstice. Went over budget, still had to cut two issues, and honestly, two others should have been cut to keep budget. But I'm a sucker, and besides ARAH and JLA, almost everything else was still very good.

Snake Eyes #3:Pick of the Week. Promotion to Perma-Pull. Continuing from where last issue left off. Alpine is in a bad way as Iceberg and Helix play a slow game of cat and mouse to evade the Ice Vipers. Snake Eyes says more with a look than most characters say with full page exposition. Slice and Dice join in to put Snake to the test. Good, good stuff.

Uncanny X-Men #541: Plans 1 and 2 to stop Hammer Bros. Juggernaut fail decisively. With the exception of a minor coloring error, the issue is without flaws, but flawless doesn’t make something top tier, but it is still very good, and that’s enough to get this promoted to Solid.

John Constantine Hellblazer #281: This issue finished off the Gemma trying to kill John plot. Rushed, poor pacing, but not too bad. Not as good as the issues leading up to the marriage, but still above average.

Power Girl #26: Say it with me: This issue burns off an obvious fill-in before the series’ cancellation. And not a very good one either. If you haven’t got this one, you aren’t missing anything. I’m a big Power Girl fan, and I barely paid attention for the entire 22 pages.

Avengers Academy #16: A fear Itself Tie-in. As per usual, this comic shines when it deals with the emotional aspects of being a hero as opposed to the actual heroics themselves. The first half is Hank Pym v. Absorbing Man. The second, and superior, half is Veil and her attempt to rescue a woman trapped in Washington DC during Sin’s attack.

Titans #37: This issue does a good job of building to next issue's climax and series end. With Jericho back, the team is divided on the use of resurrection technology, and a fight breaks out. Still some questionable art choices, and it doesn't look to be finishing as strong as it started, but good enough to buy.

Teen Titans #97: It will be with sorrow when I say goodbye to this incarnation of the Teen Titans. It has been a very good run, it has introduced, reintroduced, or rejuvenated a number of characters, and is really the best of what long term storytelling and continuity are about in comics. It has only three issues (Comic Shop News says #100 is the final issue, so expect a Teen Titans every 2 weeks for the next 2 months) to go before all of that work, all of the good will, all of the amazing stories are cast aside for the redo of a marketing ploy that failed in 1995. This issue concludes the arc that cements Solstice as a good character, shows character development in both Ravager and Superboy, and drives a wedge between Beast Boy and Raven. It's a good, climactic end to a story in the Titans Tradition of ending strong with a massive battle against the forces of evil by relying on teamwork, determination, and friendship. This run, the past 40 or so issues, 3 years of solid work, have been the best of what superhero comics are about. Fuck you DC.

Cinderella Fables are Forever #6: Caps off the second Cindy mini-series that has been superior to the main Fables line. It also clears up a continuity issue from the Escape from the Golden Boughs arc of Jack of Fables. Not as strong as the previous issues, seems comics in general has a problem with strong finishes recently, but still good.

Chopping Block:
GI Joe: A Real American Hero #168: While the new Joe steps up its game almost every issue, GI Joe: ARAH gets worse. This was a serious step backwards in writing and art. It creeps oh so close to Death Row.

Justice League of America #59: Sigh. I know this series and the collaboration of this creative team is ending, and with the last three issues, they need to be split up. Once again, a simple and obvious error in the artwork (middle panel page 2 features the death of a character who reappears on page 5) shows a lack of caring. One issue left in this run, and it can't come soon enough.

Death Row:
In a heavy week, things get cut. This week Witch Doctor #2 and Captain America Corps #2 both got the chair. No tears will be shed for their passing.

Total Price: $35.61

Thursday, July 14, 2011

$30 Pull List for 7/13/2011

Texas Comics didn’t get any copies of Birds of Prey in and Ghost Rider #1 sold out making this a light week again with some extra pick ups. Still turned out to be a very good week.

Red Skull Incarnate #1:Pick of the Week Missed this last week, got it this week. If this doesn’t turn your stomach, you’ve lost your humanity. It’s meant to make you sick, you are watching a sociopathic racist being formed. It shouldn’t be happy, or uplifting, or anything positive. It does its job. It does it superbly and economically. There are no wasted words, no wasted art. When you are done, you feel heavier for it. A masterpiece of a first issue.

Captain America #1: Let’s start with how many times do I need to see the Captain America/Orbit gum ad in a single comic? Apparently the number is twice. The first issue in the new Cap solo ongoing opens with a bang, intertwines some flashbacks better than the recent New Avengers run and closes strong. A solid pick up, but not to Brubaker’s usual standard. Of course a bad Brubaker comic is generally better than 75% of everything else on the stand.

X-Men Schism #1: Another 2-fer on the Orbit ads. An interesting opening (not counting the prelude I didn’t bother to read) to the split of the X-Men into two different factions. Normally, we might discuss the recycling of plots, but as it has been close to five years since the X-Men did that last, I think the statute of limitations is up. It’s actually a good little story with some character development in Wolverine, showing the other side to the brutal killer and walking one note gimmick he has been for the last few years. It actually sets up a not only plausible, but deeply philosophical and logical reason for Wolverine going against Cyclops and echoes back to Cyclops’s revolt against Professor X. I don’t think it’s coincidence that Marvel has featured the roots of that conflict in their current free to read digital issues.

New Avengers #14: Coming in with a double shot of Orbit ads, we have this week’s Fear Itself tie in issue. Mockingbird is back and testing her limits, Spidey gets uppity, and Nazi giant mecha is smashed. New Avengers has been slipping lately and is dangerously close to Death Row, this issue did nothing to help that, but it also didn't hurt.

DC Comics Presents: Batman Noir #1: Due to financial issues, there was a good chunk of the '00s where I didn't by comics, so I completely missed Brubaker's Bat related comics. I've read Gotham Central and Catwoman in trades, and now DC has reprinted this one. It's a good read, more of a Commissioner Gordon story with a Gotham City in 1949 than a Batman story with a backup reprint of another batman issue from 2001. Worth the price of admission.

Total price: $25.93

image from

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dammit DC

Much like Capt. Morgan's, I know DC's bad for me, but I still ache for it's siren song. Most of their solicits for September's relaunch did nothing for me, but October, oh October.

Resurrection Man #2 sees the return of the guilty pleasure Body Doubles, and Demon Knights #2 has another of the Seven Soldier's back, Sir Justin/Lady Justina.

Damn you DC.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Map of the Floating City

If you haven't heard of it yet, A Map of the Floating City is live. It is a mystery and trading game written and produced by Thomas Dolby (yes that Thomas Dolby. And if That Thomas Dolby means nothing to you, I don't want to live in the same world as you).

As you play the game you can win prizes, so far, I've picked up a couple of MP3 downloads for free.

If you like casual cooperative games, it's interesting, and with real world prizes on the line, there's more of a reason to play than a virtual reputation.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

$30 Pull List for 7/6/2011

This week sees a new comic enter the Precious Passageways of Perma-Pull Penumbra. Pulses pound as former partners pounce in Titans. Penguins are pulled from polar waters and fed to predatory persuaders. Platonic professionals silently profess passion in the pile of the Pitt's perilous predicament. Pretty pleasingly positive period on the Pull List.

Blue Estate #4:Pick of the week I'm a sucker for a good, slow burn crime noir story. Blue Estate has it. Russian mobsters financing a Steven Seagal proxy's movie as a front to launder money. Everyone looking to take a piece of the pie themselves. Good stuff, and well worth the admission price.

Secret Six #35: Gail Simone once again brings the goods as the team goes to visit the Penguin (who Gail writes very well, much like in Birds of Prey from last year). I think someone slipped LSD into King Shark’s blubber, because he’s loopy, and Bane decides to be a crime lord, since he is destined for Hell anyway. I lament this comic's eventual passing.

Gi Joe #3: Really close to Perma-Pull, really, really close. Zartan and Storm Shadow continue to wreak havoc in the Pitt, which definitely puts Satori in the front running of the civil war, especially if he has a plan to capitalize on the chaos. Another mid-level player bites it in a Star Trek 2 way (even gets a shout out) along with 2 minor Joes, Scarlet looks like she might be over Snake Eyes (or at least going for a rebound affair), and Tomax takes three in the back.

Chopping Block:
Thunderbolts #160: One of the multiple issues tying into Fear Itself whose focus is attempting to stop Juggernaut, this time, just outside of Chicago. For a tie in issue of a mini-series I am not following (despite it spinning out of Captain America, which tells you just how poorly this one was marketed that I’m not following a Cap A related super crossover) it was actually pretty good. Some development on Man-Thing and Satana that I imagine will come center stage once the crossover ends takes place in the opening. The art is still a major detractor from this series, except for the surrealistic/cubist/runic inside Juggy’s head part. Otherwise a step up from previous issues. A few more of these and T Bolts just might become Solid again.

Uncanny X-Men #540: No fill this time, but the second of this week’s pick ups focusing on stopping the Jugster, this time as he comes to stomp the pervert out of San Francisco (I say that with both love, good natured ribbing, and as a take on the motivation of one of the characters in the story). The Jugman’s impending stompage bookends a pair of human pieces as Kitty Pryde and Collosus debate how to handle what Illiyana did (what did she do? I have read no other X-Books in years) and Namor, sensing a fight he cannot win, attempts to have one last night of passion with Emma Frost and tries to drive a wedge between her and Cyclops, who is consulting with the mayor on Magneto. No action, but a good build up.

Titans Annual #1: This was a fairly good story, well written, and the art, while off model wasn’t necessarily bad, and most of the problems came with Arsenal, who was drawn to look about 15 instead of the mid-twenties he is supposed to be. Where this issue falls down is the editing. Page 36, lower left panel, Starman is shooting a plasma bolt thru Jade. You can tell by the writing that this was intended to be Cinder. It even looks like the artist drew it to be Cinder, but the colorist (Hi-Fi in this case got confused, thinking that where the bolt hit Cinder was actually Jade’s logo, and then went with it, coloring Cinder as Jade. Now, I don’t blame the colorist, as they probably got the page unlettered and made a simple error. It happens. I blame the editors. Why? Editors are there to pick up and make sure mistakes are corrected. This book has 4 editors, 2 directly on this book and 2 in executive positions. You mean to tell me that none of those four looked at this and saw the error? That’s either incompetence or just not giving a fuck. In light of last month’s JLA issue, I’m leaning towards not giving a fuck. I mean, who cares? Series is cancelled next month any way. I care, the customer cares, and if you want us to keep caring, get your heads out of your asses and start TCB.

Total Price: $28.08 (including a new box)

JJ Abrams pitches a movie

"I have an idea for a movie. It's an epic cross over between masters of their arts, they meet, some kind of monster causes them to unit and then they resolve it. We'll use lens flares to hide their identities until the big reveal at the end."

"Sounds like you have a first act and maybe part of a third, what about the middle?"

"I'll just wing it, no one cares about that part anyway."

"Excellent, so who are the masters?"

"Bass Masters and Tax Masters. No one will expect it."

"A hundred million enough?"