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It feels like sacrificing the body to save the wrist, a sudden wrench as I clasp tight to Sempai's forearm and throw my head down to look back up at him, my leg going up and over. For a second I am airborne, none of my body touching the ground, tethered only by the hand still hanging onto him as he flips me, my earlier-caught wrist unwinding around the tight torque. The world goes topsy-turvy, whizzing by like in a forward roll, but with a stronger adrenaline rush from the momentary freedom of earth. And then gravity pulls me back to the ground, my free hand slapping the mat to soften the impact, the side of my thigh slamming against the mat's hard surface.
"Look up and over," Sempai coaches, "up and over." Out of a dozen tries, I do maybe three decent ones. The other times, I don't put in enough spring during take-off, or my body rotates wrong in mid-air, forcing me to land awkwardly and hard.
"More?" he asks, and I say, "Again," going for the forearm, getting the feel of the pendulum motion. We first do it on the count of three, so that I can learn the rhythm and timing so essential to such acrobatics. Then he flips me on the count of one, alternating left, right, left. Forced to strive for balance, I don't get the chance to learn it well first on one side.
Neck sore. Arms sore. Huge, welting purple bruises on the sides of my thighs from landing hard. The days following high-fall practice, I pay for it, limping along in my daily routine. Soreness has not been a foreign feeling since I re-joined aikido, but what amazes me is the various places in the body I can feel it, like I am working out a different set of muscles every time. Always learning something new. Looking up and over to the immediate goal ahead, tentatively testing out these new wings until I can truly learn to fly.