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Tuesday nights mean one thing; three classes at Tenshinkan. The first was an intro class with some students who had all been there before. We quickly went through some katatetori and katatekosatori techniques before spending a bit of time on sankyo.
Closeness seems to be the key to sankyo. Get in very close and really control the entire arm, thus controlling the entire body. Toyoda Sensei said that if you can see uke get up on their toes a bit, you know you have lots of control. The pin is still a bit of a mystery to me, but it was the first time I really spent any length of time doing sankyo, so that wasn't a bad thing.
At the end of the class we all lined up as a group. One nage was in the center of the mat, and in turn we each attacked. Nage was free to do anything they wanted, as long as uke could perform the ukemi properly.
Intention, intention, intention. That seemed what the lesson was all about. Follow through on what you intended to do, and in fact, try and anticipate, if possible, what uke will do so you can get ready for the technique. I wish we could have done more of that free work. It'll come with time I suppose.
Class two, and the theme for the rest of the evening, was shomenuchi attack. Stepping into shomenuchi and blocking it. Shomenuchi kokyunage and some iriminage. Difficult for me to do, but by the end I was getting the flow of it. The entering motion is udefuri choyaku undo, really flowing into the attack. It's a little disconcerting at first, and my uke was really into throwing me hard (he's the gent who's hooked on oyo waza...screw taking my balance and letting me fall, he throws me down every time) but I was able to manage it a little better this time around.
And then it happened. I can't even remember the technique we did, something with shomenuchi, but Parks-Casey Sensei said the right ukemi was a breakfall. When she asked who would take the breakfall, I didn't volunteer, which produced a frown on her face. I'd never done one, nor had I ever spent any time even watching how they were done, and I thought we were still in yoko ukemi training (which we'd been studying the last few weeks).
But all that was about to change.
She demonstrated the technique, gave me a few pointers about which leg goes down and which stays bent, what arm to slap with etc., and then threw me into one. Whoosh, bam! My first real, honest to goodness, full speed breakfall.
Note to self: don't hold your breath on a breakfall.
Thankfully it didn't hurt. I managed to keep my focus on my foot pretty well, but I felt too tight when I landed. I did one or two more and then threw my uke into them a few times. We changed techniques after that, but all I could think about was doing some more work on them. I'm not sore this morning, but we'll see what happens this evening, the full twenty-four hours after training when stiffness/soreness should be at it's max.
I still can't believe I did it. But I'm glad Sensei pushed me to do it. It wasn't so bad. Except now it's another one of the billion things in Aikido that's like a rough stone; I need to polish it again and again until it becomes smooth.
So far the only thing I can really do well is sweep the mat.
Class three was weapons intro with four students, two new and two of us who had been around for a bit. Jo dori, from shomenuchi attacks. I was the senior student in class and I took so much ukemi from about ten different techniques, I can hardly remember any of them.
I like the style of jo. It's like a puppet string with a lot of power. You can manipulate uke a LOT because uke has the ability to grab onto the end, unlike bokken (presumably because they'd slice their fingers off). Jo also has a big arc of power, so depending on where your hands are, a very small movement could translate to a very large one.
The two beginner students in the weapons class were like night and day in body type. One guy was well over six feet, and the other was just under five. As we switched uke, it was really helpful to learn how to adjust to the extreme height difference.
At the very end, Sensei had myself and the other experienced student demonstrate three of the techniques we learned. We both managed to forget the first one of maybe five we learned, but we both did three.
It made me realize how versatile jo work really is. There are so many variants that the possibilities are nearly infinite.
I've ordered a catalog from Kiyota. It's time I purchased some weapons. I'm taking two weapons classes a week. I want my own. Perhaps that'll be a nice Christmas present to myself...