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It was snowing pretty heavily when I arrived at the dojo last night. There were three inches on the ground. I was the only student there about a half-hour before classes so I swept the mats and changed so I could do some stretching before anyone arrived. Erickson Sensei came in and it looked like we were going to be the only ones for class, but due to the heavy snow, people began to trickle in.
In class one we did lots of kokyunage variations from katatetori grabs. The most interesting one was where you lead uke's grabbing hand toward theor own shoulder and wind them up like a top. Pretty quickly they will lose their balance and fall.
There were four students and Sensei made us work as one large group in sort of a jiyuwaza style with repeated attackers coming in. It was all happening so fast I think most of us forgot it was cold in the dojo..
Class two, weapons, focused on jo. We did lots of striking patterns that Sensei is a fan of. For instance, munetsuki into hasso no kamae, then with a small hand change, you're setup for a shomenuchi strike. Then into another munetsuki and so on. Up and down the mats we practiced our forms.
Then we moved on to kumijo, kata three. The best part about that kata is the huge arc you get to make with your jo while winding up for the final strike. If you do it right, the jo emits a haunting "whooosh" as you whip it around. Fun.
The final class was a mix of 4th kyu, 5th kyu, and 7th kyu test requirements. Ushirotekubitori kokyunage, katatekosatori kotegaeshi, munetsuki kotegaeshi, and a few other munetsuki variations including a sokumen iriminage. Again in jiyuwaza style. By the end we were all sweaty despite the cold.
Flexibility is my biggest focal point at the moment. My ukemi for sokumen iriminage is not nearly as back-bending as I think it should be. I try to loosen up and go as limp-but-stable as possible, but I can't bend back as far as I'd like to.
I've had many conversations with my chiropractor about this. He's suggested a set of exercises designed to release tension in the psoas muscle. The psoas is one of the main muscles involved when you bend or crouch forward. But the problem, he thinks, is that mine is so used to that crouching position, it has trouble relaxing.
So we'll see. I know the consistent training has definitely improved my flexibility. I honestly could not touch my toes before Aikido. Now I can, albeit barely.
I saw some yoga video clips the other day. The people were all as limber as rubber bands. I'm not sure if that's desirable or not in Aikido, but that's a goal for me.
Goals, goals, goals. With the end of the year in sight, it's time to set some good ones.