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Friday evening classes, which are amazing always. Worked with Anna first, this was strange, as she had started I think over a year ago, and has always been higher rank or longer in rank than I have since I have been there, however with this last test, I am now a 4th Kyu, and she is 5th Kyu. This created a strangely funny moment at the beginning of our training together, where I was waiting for her to hold out something for me to grab, and she was patiently waiting for me to do the same. I eventually laughed and held out my hand. We worked on Ryoti Dori Tenchi Nage Sensei came by and helped us with it. It was good practice, and helped me work on some of the stuff that I already knew but had not integrated into my bodies practice yet. We spoke a lot about connection and how to maintain it when you were both Uke and Nage. There is a whole energy that I have never thought about in letting someone grab you. Uke is trying on that mat, and sensei says in real life to establish a connection, by honoring that connection and letting it happen you start the process of Aikido. True that you are going to use that connection to assist them in transformation by holding them on the ground after you have thrown them down. By slightly pressing into the grip of the person that is grabbing you can increase their desire to hang on. Also during the technique it is important that you keep the part that has been grabbed in alignment with the grabbing hand. It is easy to pull away and break the connection. An example is when you break the connection in Katate Dori Kote Gaishi you break the connection with the grabbing hand and establish a connection with that hand on your terms. This was a great lesson from Sensei and I could feel the differences in both of our techniques as soon as we started practicing afterward.
Sensie called for a partner change, and I worked with Noel. Noel is working on his reversals, unlike Victor who actually reverses the technique, Noel just touches me on my openings, or looks at where there are openings. Those wonderfully joy filled steel blue eyes can pierce the your veil of security much easily than you would ever imagine. The only thing that keeps you calm and working is that they have established a relationship with you in which you have faith that everyone is working on the same things and that there is compassion and even love behind those piercing eyes. I have noticed that most of the yodansha seem to do this even when they are "just" teaching you. Nikis gaze can immediately direct you to an opening in your technique, as can Victors, Bob's, and definitely sensei's. Maybe you get the penetrating opening gaze the same day they hand out the ball bearing joints and the roller skates…..I hope so, I sure am looking forward to the package.
Then we traded again and I worked with Victor. It was great working on Morti Dori Kokyu Ho. This is one of my favorite techniques, probably because I was able to train directly with Sensei on it for over 20 minutes once. I worked on making sure that I was "standing up like a human" as sensei said for the whole technique, even when I was bending my knees. This helped a lot, Victor Lauged when he headed for the mat, which is a sure indication that something is going correct. After class Victor noted that I had changed my color without making a big deal of it, and threw me around the mat for about 10 minutes no matter what technique I was either Nage or Uke for. It was fun, a little close to rough housing, and I noted out of the corner of my eye that sensei was watching very closely. Sensei came over and helped me do a shiho Nage on Victor at the end. Again Sensei pointed out that I was "not standing like a human". Once I slowed down and relaxed I was able to stand straight keep my hara in line with my shoulders, my arms in front of me, and my nose over my Hara, I could feel the power in the throw, it was amazing. Now why can't I do that all the time.
After class Noel, Sensei and I sat around talking about bad language stories that we have experienced. They were all quite funny. Sensei's stories of his Japanese were interesting because the all almost made sense in Japanese.