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Hello my lovelies! Just had a strange sweet few moments that I thought I'd share.
Rosso (our director from Auckland) is apparently coming over to grade us on the last Sunday in November. *5* days before the wedding. Squee! So then the question comes up about if I'm ready for my 3rd Kyu test yet - my main sensei Paul leaves the judgement to another since between his absenses and my injuries he hadn't personally seen me train enough. And that other sensei who's watched me and watched over me for so long, says that I've put in the hours for sure, as in physically been there enough, but that sitting on the sidelines in the injured corner (knee - long story) wasn't enough.
Which is totally fair enough - except... I got this weird feeling he didn't mean something as simple as the hours put on the mat.
So I'm making a pact with myself. The grading's about a month away - I promised myself that I wouldn't let myself sit out anymore even if it hurt - that if it hurt that badly I'd need to find another way to do what I need to do. After all, you've got to be rather strict with yourself or else you get yourself into all sorts of trouble! JC, the other sensei, gifted me with a couple coaching comments about going slower. About being smoother as the focus but at a slower pace.
Hard to digest, this 'going slower' business. I just want to fly!! But, what if I see aikido as a dance instead? Then the smoothness and flow only add to the beauty and strength and bridled power.
So I decided to go slower - as a means of self preservation! - and found that actually it does give you a kind of strength that you'd never realise otherwise. Like, if you go slower there are fifty thousand points of significance that lend you power where you only see five if it's done at regular speed. And all of a sudden, I could start picking out the people that understood the importance of going slow and smooth, and now it's like the others can't even hold a candle to them.
So that's why the forums say that smoothness, grace, slow and precise deliberation are what's valued so highly in a grading. The head knew, the heart's only just catching up though...
So maybe having the constant ache that keeps me hobbling around is actually an incredible gift. If my knees didn't hurt so much all the time I wouldn't have taken this path and found such gems. I might have ended up flying like the other young'uns, but in a way that would crash me to the ground time and time again in such a gawky way. Instead, I've made up my mind and braced my heart to be as strong and steady as a mountain, but also like a part of the ocean tide that swallows the rash bubbling at the place where it meets the river. You know - stiller, but so much more powerful and timeless, somehow.
So, I'm starting to get what he meant, I think. He said 'when you can stay on the mat for the whole class, and keep doing it until the grading, then you can participate in the grading'. But I think I get it - it's not about cramming in tips for techniques. It's not actually about what you do on the mat or how you do it - it's about being on the mat in the first place. It's about conquering your headspace.