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Today was a gorgeous day! I arrived early so quietly made my way to the changing room as Chyohai (daily ceremony) was finishing up. I helped put away the "shrine stuff" and sweep the mat before stretching and lightly warming up for keiko. We went outside because of the wonderful weather; down to the river. An island of river rocks was formed by the low river, so we kicked off our sandals and shoes and waded through the cool water to the small island before beginning an abreviated warm-up. Sensei went through a few different sequences of movements. They still feel very new to me, but slowly, bit by bit, I feel more familiarized with the different parts. I had a great time barefoot and swinging a stick around. You definately notice your feet more! The cool water was even more refreshing on the way back to the haiden.
There was a request for "gyaku hanmi katatetori kokyu ho," and after so much time spent outside we spent the remaining time working on this, first from suwari, then from tachi. I was trying to be mindful of the feeling of wrapping aite's head (how I was thinking of it, at least). I was with a newer student and one of the things that's real nice is that they don't always go where expected...although in this case it was because he was stiffening up. I had control of the situation through superior positioning, but my connection wasn't in full control, so it forced me to be more present in order to make it work. Once I got my partner to start activating the other side and to stop arching the back so much, the form looked better and I had to start paying more attention to what he was doing (e.g. he could start hitting me with his free hand). Hopefully I gave some good advice without being too annoying; I was mindful that I was the sempai and so I really tried to fill that role.
Focus points for the day: Squeezing the centerline with the elbows, and with hara better oriented to lift when suppressing aite in our gyakyhanmi yonkyo nigite method; always feel like you can headbutt from where you are. Both seem to be ways of getting the spine engaged to drive the pressure and the latter also suggests operating from a neutral point, allowing for readiness to strike in any direction, ideally.
After keiko it was off to work building a deck; the sun was hot and I'm dehydrated with a headache, but feeling very good otherwise. Off to do some suburi before bedtime (and more water).
G'night and take care, all.