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The last day or so have been very aikido oriented. Yesterday Alicia and I went to Mito to do some Immigration paperwork and get her residence status legalized, and to hang out with Ineke, the Australian uchideshi from last month -- now sotodeshi living in Mito City. After some time chatting with her and then a fruitless hour or so spent at Immigration, we headed back to Iwama.
I went to training that night at the Iwama Budokan -- a community martial arts center of sorts. It's actually next door to the Junior High School I will be teaching at starting in September. Miwa-san taught class (for information about her upcoming Germany seminar along with Akimasa Watanabe, click here for German or here for English). Budokan classes occur every Thursday night and are a mix of about 30 minutes of taejutsu and 30 minutes of bukiwaza.
After a few weeks away from aikido -- one week of that relaxing on a beach doing nothing -- I was definitely out of practice and knew I'd be feeling more sore than usual the next day. I did taejutsu with another aussie uchideshi -- Peter. Like Ineke, he's of kyuu rank and, also like Ineke, you can see tangible improvements and changes in technique occur even in the space of one class. I'm so afraid of one day being so set in my aikido ways that I stop developing -- seeing kyuu level students improving so quickly is great motivation to continue honing and working towards that unattainable perfection of technique...
We did basics -- as we usually do when Sensei isn't around (unless it's one of the excessively cavalier 5th or 6th dan types who always teach their personal favorite techniques) -- tae no henko, morote dori kokyu and shomen uchi nikkyo (omote and ura). It was great since I had been gone so long -- to do those basics again. My first few rounds were quite sloppy but my body started to feel the patterns again and I got back into a groove -- then tried to go beyond that groove a bit -- not sure how well that worked.
I did weapons with Sensei's wife, Hisako-san. We all did the 31 no jo kata a few times before moving onto the pair practice. Pair practice was the 31 no kumi jo, the 13-17 section. It was great -- and tiring -- but once in a while I'd mess up at 16, forgetting which of should draw back. It was definitely amusing at the time.
After keiko, I tried to show the aiki henna tattoo thing to another American sotodeshi, and of course Hisako-san and Miwa-san came running over to see what happened. I'm pretty sure they thought I'd hurt my shoulder somehow. Once it was explained they became even more interested but to my complete embarassment, we found that the sweat from keiko and maybe gi friction on my peeling sunburn had rubbed the last of the henna out. . . oh well.
Back at home -- just a bike ride away -- there was a knock at the door. A couple uchideshi from Nemoto-sensei's Aiki house had dropped by to say hello. I had introduced myself to them earlier in the day and told them they could drop by any time. I hadn't figured they'd actually come by that night but it was a nice visit -- just two uchideshi, one from Germany and one from Burma (Myanmar). Had some tea, they gave us some chocolates and then they headed back to their house -- we heard laughter and we assumed they weren't laughing at us.
So it was a full day... oh, in the middle there on the way back from Mito we bought a new bike. It's a liiittle on the small side but it's what I'm used to since we had small bikes as uchideshi. If we get another one in the future I'll probably opt for a slightly larger frame. We're happy with it -- I'll get some pictures on the other blog.
This morning was my first full bukiwaza keiko since coming back to Japan! It was good -- I'm a little bit glad Sensei is in South America this week because I get a soft intro back into weapons. When he returns I'm sure I'll get yelled at plenty but this week I get to try to correct all the little bad habits that've come up during my months of solo suburi. We did ken suburi 1-5, 5 no awase, 3 no kumi tachi.
I'm going to try and keep a list of the techniques and weapons sets we do for each class at the end of each blog entry (I won't list morote dori kokyu or tae no henko or suwari waza kokyu since those are a given for taejutsu here):
Shomen uchi nikkyo omote and ura
31 no jo kata
31 no kumi jo, 13-17 section
Ken suburi 1-5
5 no awase
3 no kumi tachi