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Yesterday's class (5/15/03) was really good. We started out working on ushirohijitori kotegaeshi. Both the other fellow who needs to know this technique and I were having trouble with it. Our sensei went into more detail with the technique and explained something he admits he hadn't explained as well before -- the feel for kotegaeshi from the ushiro attacks is different than from tsuki or katatekosatori. Initially I was frustrated when trying to learn the new nuances of the technique, but after a time, I started to get it. I still need to work slowly, but the technique is coming along nicely. That was the first breakthrough of the evening.
The second breakthrough was my first time as nage in full speed randori. We first did our regular slo-mo drill, and that went pretty well. Our sensei addressed my with the exercise by comparing full speed attacks to the slowed down versions we use in the slo-mo drill. Following the slo-mo drill, we did randori at full-speed.
The full-speed exercise was very interesting. For starters, I did pretty well at keeping the attackers off of me. I did slo-mo randori with four ukes, but the full speed exercise had two. I found that the experience was startlingly similar. In fact, even though things were happening much more quickly, I didn't feel overwhelmed at all. So, the slow motion exercise really did do a good job of preparing me for full-speed randori.
In a broader application, yesterday's class really reinforced for me the value of working slowly when learning something new. The body doesn't really know if it is moving slowly or quickly. So, working slowly is a good way to train the body while giving the mind enough time to really observe what's going on. Eventually, the instructions and observations from the mind merge with the body's memory of the movement to form a set of programmed responses (almost reflexes) that require little thought and can be performed quickly and precisely. This is what I think the second doshu meant when he talked about his father's idea of ki-mind-body integration (in The Spirit of Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba).