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I was away from the mats for a week or so. I had a very bad experience with one of the teachers at the dojo and unfortunately I let that get the best of me. After speaking with the dojocho and many other aikidoka who train there, they assured me I was both doing well and to ignore the bad teachers extreme methods of teaching.
I'll only say this one more thing about the experience: Aikido is, to me, about supporting your fellow aikidoka on the mats. No matter what you are doing, no matter how often you do it, I believe you should be supportive and encouraging, even when someone is doing something "wrong" or against your way of thinking. There are a million ways to communicate with words. Chose them wisely and without ill intent. To correct someone is to truly teach them, not to demoralize their character.
After the week off the mats I was thankful that the dojocho returned to train with us. His first class back was akin to ordering pizza and watching a movie with a good friend. No, we didn't eat on the mats :-) But it was comforting and familiar, and I'm truly thankful to have a man like him as my Sensei.
It felt good to sweat again. The Chicago heat and humidity have been running high lately, but we're all training as hard as we can despite the weather. I've never trained when it's cold outside, so it'll be interesting to be on the mats when the weather begins to turn. But for now, a good sweat makes me feel on top of the world.
I'm a huge fan of Japanese kotowaza (proverbs). My signature is my favorite (see the bottom of the post) but I'm enjoying a new one I learned
nana korobi ya oki
seven falls, eight rises
It's very Aikido to me. No matter how often you fall, you must get back up. If at first you don't succeed...etc. Given the situation I went through with the bad teacher, it's a perfect example of how no matter how low you get, you have to pick yourself up and keep going.
Last night Toyoda Sensei and Parks-Casey Sensei taught the three classes of the evening. The first was an extensive review of aikitaiso, which I cannot get enough of. Things like happo undo are just sloppy movements for me right now, but they are things I can practice when I'm outside the dojo and really work on. Toyoda Sensei gave us many suggestions of things to focus on, so I know I have my work cut out for me.
The second class with Parks-Casey Sensei was bokken training. We did mostly bokken dori. I don't know the names yet, but nage went to the outside of shomenuchi, grabbed the handle of the bokken, and threw uke off the end. It's very hard for me to roll on one arm, so my ukemi was really poor. But I know what I have to do to make it better, and I'm working on it.
The most fun part was throwing people off your back. I think it's called ushiro-nage, but we were told there are an infinite number of variations, and the one we were studying didn't really have an exact name. Loading someone up on your back is quite and experience. And the ukemi is quite fun, but I have miles to go with yoko ukemi.
I tried to escape the third class, but Parks-Casey Sensei wasn't having that. She hollered for me on the mats at the beginning of class and I made my way to the line as fast as possible. It was a six-week beginners course, but we did lots of fun things with sumitoshi and throwing people into rolls.
Three hours is a long time. I think my dogi was a half-ton heavier from all the sweat. But bit by bit, inch by inch, things are starting to make sense. I can see patterns in the footwork. My ukemi is far from perfect, but I'm starting to get a sense for the shifts in my own balance.
And at the end of it all, it's fun and challenging. There are very few things in life you can say that about.