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We were standing in the dojo on the second floor of Yosh Uchida Hall in my former college where I used to train. I had joined the Karate Club after coercion from some friends, and one of them ranked as a Brown Belt in karate-do. He was teaching the class that day before our Sensei came in to take over, and he was walking us through the first kata. It might've been my second club meeting, and I was trying to memorize the next few steps of the short kata. Sempai paced the room as he counted, "One." Ki-ai. "Two." Ki-ai. Still keeping count, he walked up to me and effortlessly readjusted my balled-up fists a few degrees to where they should be. I remember, at that precise moment, glancing down at the brown belt he wore and thinking, "No way I could make it that far in rank. I don't have the strength, will, time, or endurance." Everyone around me breezed through the first kata, crisp and precise in their movements. And there I was, couldn't remember beyond Step 3 by the time I had fumbled through the entire thing from beginning to end.
This past Saturday, I tested for nikyu. I have to give props to my uke—I know not everyone wants to prepare a whoppin' two-and-a-half months before their actual test, and without complaint, he stayed many overtime dojo nights willing to be tossed around by me. He worked through the sore shoulder and the yonkyo bruises and the snagging of his toes on mat seams coming up from a roll. He put up with me tripping over him during shihonage from hanmi-
More epiphanies that reveal why I'm an aikido junkie. This is a follow-up to List 1.
1. When my massages get too painful, I have to fight the instinct to tap out at the masseuse.
2. I have a tendency to open swinging bathroom doors with a kokyu-ho extension of my hand blades.
3. Sometimes I find myself practicing various aikido hand positions in my cube at work.
4. Long power outages at work make me want to do weapons suburi in the semi-abandoned parking lot.
5. I think about aikido: while working, while driving, and while sleeping.
6. Instead of counting sheep, I sometimes recite aikido techniques to sleep.
7. I've waken myself up from a dream of a break-fall by slapping the mattress.
8. I've thwacked my significant other and even myself in my sleep as my body executes some random technique on subconscious auto-drive.
9. When I'm at one end of a long hallway, I have the sudden urge to get to the other end by doing forward rolls.
10. I've taken to holding my kitchen knives the way I hold my bokken: distinctly with knuckles on top.
11. I've effortlessly (and accidentally) sliced clear through the plastic container of a yogurt drink bottle trying to cut through the plastic encasing. I blame bokken suburi #1.
12. I once used a shomenuchi strike at a store to keep a falling baking soda packet from konking me on the head. The packet ended up bouncing off my fingertips and landing in my shopping cart.
13. A coworker almost ran me o
It wasn't the brightest idea. But it did make me think about the instincts that develop in us over time. I was in the cleaning supplies aisle at Target, looking for those pods of Arm & Hammer baking soda with the suction cup, designed to minimize odor in refrigerators. Lo and behold, the coveted items were stacked on the top-most shelf. I quickly analyzed the bottom shelf: too flimsy for me to stand on for an extra boost. The baking soda was stacked a bit further back from the shelf's edge: conveniently just out of my reach. I was like the prehistoric squirrel in Ice Age, eyeing the prized acorn. I don't know why I didn't walk the few steps to push the "Assistance" button at one of those stations scattered around the store. It was mainly laziness, but I'm not surprised if there was some stubborn pride mixed in there somewhere.
I decided to make a jump for it. I needed four packs and was able to snag the first three with said Michael Jordan technique. However, things went awry with the fourth packet, set even further back on the shelf. The first jump got it to slide further to the edge. The second jump was meant for me to grasp it in my hand, but I miscalculated, and the packet flew into the air, seeming to aim straight for my head on its way down. Out of sheer instinct, my hand shot up in a shomenuchi-like strike/block, snaking up the centerline of my vision and extending upwards to guard my head, just in time for the airborne packet to bounce off my fingertips and land s
"She is hard to throw," Sensei comments about me as he helps fix my training partner's hand positions to launch me into a kokyu nage.
I protest, utterly surprised, "No, I'm not!"
I check my own posture, try to loosen up, make sure I am not inadvertently giving my training partner a hard time. Just the other day, my other Sensei told me not to "strong-arm"—that is, stiffen up my arm to resist techniques and potentially laying my elbow open to damage in the process. I don't mean to be stiff, and I'm still struggling with the fine line between giving an appropriate amount of "feedback" without going limp noodle, and resisting a technique in a way that may be deemed excessive. Usually, I'm the smaller one in the partnership, and my various training partners seem not at all to struggle as they launch me effortlessly into the air, my limbs flailing every which way as I lose balance, or driving me hard into the mat. Sometimes it's almost comical, and I envision Wile E. Coyote falling from a cliff and leaving a large imprint of his body's outline in the ground, like a snow angel on the canyon floor as that crafty Roadrunner peers down and chuckles. Instinctively, I've learned to resist, so as to lighten my impact with my long-time friend, the mat.
"Yes, you are," Sensei insists, and he seems more pleased than crossed.
"But I'm very light," I say. Surely, I must be easy to throw, even if that day I happen to be training with another woman who almost matches me in frame.