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108 to commemorate O-sensei's passing. This was wonderful. Basically you select a technique which you practice 108 times, and focus on each part of it. The pacing and rhythm of the practice is very different. You do your technique once, your partner does their technique once, then you do yours again and your partner theirs, alternating until you have each done the technique you have selected four times. Then you sit on the mat and meditate, other pairs around you slowly finish and begin to meditate too. When everyone is in the meditation position, and breathing, Sensei reads a passage from O-Sensei's book. Then he rings a bell and you again trade off with your partner four times, then another meditative secession and reading, then another set of the same technique, then the bell rings twice, and you trade partners silently and begin again. This pattern continues until you have all done 108 repetitions of the technique you chose to focus on.
It was wonderful. The passages that sensei picked for the readings seemed like they had been written especially for me, and helped address specific things in my life and my aikido practice. In a way it felt like more than Aikido, and brought home to me at least that Aikido is more than the time that we are on the mat. It was wonderful, and doing everything in a meditative form was new to me. Aikido can be a meditation in motion.
Two of my partners today, Victor, and Julia were both doing Shiho Nage. I learned a lot from our working together silently, both of us concentrating on the same technique, alternating like we were. It was easy to feel the differences in the relationship when I was Nage, and they were Nage, I uke and they Uke. Some of it was because my skills are not the level of either of theirs, but some of it was a different feeling because we are different people. The practice today bordered on the mystical for me. It was wonderful. What a wonderful gift Aikdio is to the world. What a wonderful gift this dojo and my sensei are to me. Thank you very much!