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I had a fun time in second class partnering one of the older black belts who's very good. He's accomplished in karate and kendo as well so it's not at all surprising he's good at aikido. He trained me today to keep looking at the opponent's eyes. I have always looked at the shoulder ro arm rather than the face but he refused to do any move until I looked at him so that worked as a correcting method. By the end of the class I got used to staring straight at the opponent and he's right, I can react faster when I do that. I also learnt that I instinctively time my breath with his attack when I look in his eyes which makes the technique more effective which was an interesting result. Overall it means I'm just more engaged with my uke. He also taught me how to relax a bit more just before springing into action and explained that if I'm tense before I need to move, then I will not be able to move fast enough. He's right of course but that's harder to achieve in practice.
Today we tried to breakfall from shihonage which I've never been able to bring myself to do before but did manage just one before the class broke up. I tried rolling out first but decided that slamming down is actually easier but this was a gentle practice where the partner doesn't really force the throw but let's uke take the initiative to throw oneself over. That worked cos then I didn't feel so much pressure and actually not that much momentum is needed to go over.
Hooray and thanks to my training partner! It's really great when I get to partner such good guys who are able to teach as well as practice as I learn a lot from them. It's something I really appreciate from them as I figure they probably get more fun out of an all out practice slamming other guys around the mat but they are forced to be more gentle with me for which I'm grateful but I always feel like I'm slowing them down.
The other girl on the mat tonight is really good. She's just got all the right body moves so she had the whole class clapping and exclaiming when she did the throws as part of the demo with the instructor. She's much shorter than me and I'm not tall at all...but she uses her body to the fullest effect.