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The final set of kyu tests were conducted last night. I was only an observer. They conducted a 6th, 5th, and 3rd kyu test. The 6th and 5th kyu tests were interesting to watch, but I enjoyed the 3rd kyu test the most.
The kenshusei student who took the test was beyond good. Even twenty minutes into his test, when Sensei called for the first form bokken kata, he was fluid and graceful, despite all the suwariwaza and jiyuwaza he had just completed. Simply amazing.
I found it very inspirational.
Following the testing I had bokken class with Erickson Sensei. It was partnered practice, concentrating almost exclusively on taisabaki for the first half of class. Kiersten was partnered with me. As I progressed she began to swing faster and harder. My block with bokken is still a little shaky, but she gave me some good pointers on accepting the energy of the attack.
Bokken, and most weapons practice I've done thus far, seems to put everything into clearer perspective. The footwork seems clearer for some reason. I suppose it could be the real threat of getting whacked in the head with a big stick that helps me learn things a bit faster. Thankfully nothing like that happened, but the threat was there.
Following weapons class, I stayed for the 6 week intro. There was only one intro student, and since it was mostly kenshusei on the mats I knew it would be a good class.
We did lots of rolling practice, which I cannot seem to get enough of. And then we moved into some katatori deflecting (maybe they are blocks? not sure what they are called) techniques. After working through many variations, Erickson Sensei grouped us up into three groups of four and we did a very slow version of 3 person randori. The attackers were basically walking like zombies towards nage. We were allowed to use any of the deflecting/redirecting techniques, but we weren't doing any throws.
At first, everyone was all giggles and smiles as people began to plod their way around the mats like Frankenstein. But soon it got much quieter and as all three nage began to concentrate on redirecting attacks around them. The uke's were still moving slow, but all you could hear were feet, nothing more.
When it was my turn for nage, I wasn't really intimidated but I was a bit overwhelmed at first. Three people, fast or slow, coming at you is a bit much to deal with. I knew four, maybe five different ways I could redirect the attack, but I had to make a fast decision about which was best, how far it would push uke away, and how that would set me up for the next uke coming in. At some point I had an epiphany when I realized that redirecting one uke into another gave me more time to think, more time to move around the group, and more time to get out of a corner.
Ok, so it wasn't *real* randori, but the concept and the basic structure were there. I had to make the best decision possible in a efficient way, and move on. And if possible, I tried to think one or two moves ahead of myself to always come out ok.
If that isn't the best metaphor for life, I don't know what is.