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This past Thursday I had a bit of a breakthrough. For months now I've been babying a hyper extended elbow. Last month, I strained the same side's shoulder. Thursday we worked on gokyo and I was afraid I'd either re-injure everything or simply not be able to take the ukemi.
The last time we worked on gokyo, I knew ahead of time that it was coming up and I worried about it for the week prior to that class. I was right to worry (or so I thought), as I couldn't take the ukemi for it. It hurt too much. Even worse, I had trouble doing the technique and ended up very frustrated.
For some reason things went a lot better on Thursday. For one thing, my elbow and shoulder are feeling better. I also asked my partners (we were in a group of three) to take it slowly -- which is different than taking it easy -- on the injured side. To my surprise, I found I could take the ukemi without a problem. This was a big boost for my confidence.
Most importantly, though, I saw how small and efficient a movement gokyo really is. I'm finding that I tend to make our pinning techniques more complicated than they need to be. The problem lies in my tendency to think of things in a step by step manner and to put pauses between the steps. I'm finally beginning to learn how to do the techniques more fluidly with more efficient motion. It feels good that something has finally clicked.
Part of the breakthrough is due to the fact that I was working with one of my sempai. For some reason, my sempai don't come to class very often, but when they do, I learn a heck of a lot. As one who has missed blocks of class for various reasons over the past few years, I fully understand how hard it can be to get to train. I don't blame my sempai for not being there, I just wish they were there more often. Anyway, I aspire to be then kind of sempai that my sempai, Micah and Aaron, are.
Today's class went well too. I'm feeling a lot better and I'm hoping to be training harder in the next few weeks. We worked on the first jo kata. Weapons work is one of my favorite aspects of aikido and I've found that I really like the jo. There's a sense of expansiveness and momentum with the jo whereas the sword feels more compact. The jo kata was a joy to work on. I really enjoyed the feeling of going from one strike to the next while working to make each individual strike a good one.