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Managed to get to the dojo today and train. I was late, as usual, which is a little tiresome when it's an established pattern, but c'est la vie...Gambatte and all that. At least I actually made it.
The last week I've been focusing on my connection to the Earth, primarily through standing and moving breathing practice. What that mostly means is that I paid more attention to how my feet were feeling, trying to get the sense of my knees transferring weight straight down. Any tension I feel in my knees I try to relax and adjust my feet and hips accordingly to allow for it. However, it was interesting for me to note that I woke up with tender feet today. I'm not sure if that's because I ran too hard Thursday (we had an awesome downpour which absolutely demanded my boys and I go running around in the back yard) or I put too much tension into my feet yesterday while I was practicing. Whatever the case, they were sore and I showed up just in time to do bokuto practice on the little island that formed out in the river. It's covered in river rocks which usually don't bother my feet at all, but today I felt every little pointy bit, eve when that "point" was just a smooth "corner." After a few cuts I managed to get my ki relaxed and it wasn't so bad. Walking through the river back to the embankment was a nice refreshing massage for them.
We did a little more bokuto work inside, working on negaeshi uchi before getting to work on taijutsu. I bounced my sword onto my partner's fingers ( sorry again Brian-san!), which plays into my biggest fear in weapons work. I have no problem being hit accidentally (although it's almost never happened), but I am often afraid of hitting my partner mistakenly...which of course is a bad distraction from making a nice clean cut. It wasn't a bad bounce, but still, it bothers me. The good news is it made me really focus on making the tip of my blade heavier and the last few cuts felt really good compared to everything else that had come before them.
In taijutsu we did several fun things. Starting with kokyu ho, we worked on the morote dori attack, then we moved on to morotedori kokyu nage. I've said it before, but I love morote dori for how it seems to get me to engage both sides of my body more! One insight I had while training has to do with displacing the upper spine/head from atop its base, so I can use the spine more or less as a lever to tip over the lower spine/hips. Nothing too fancy, but it was a moment of clarity for me that seemed to make the movement a little easier.
We also worked on something based on kiridome and kokyu nage (?). The kiridome part is an alternating cutting action similar to this, except we did it empty handed and threw from the first contact, with the hands apart such that they serve as two separate tegatana. Again, what I loved was the way it got me thinking about both sides of my body and how to use them distinctly while maintaining a sense of togetherness.
Later I got to practice with Brian-san (sorry again!) on tsuki irimi nage ura. I got a very clear sense of ame no tori fune undo at one point; the action of extending away from the center and of bringing aite right back to it (careful not to get bowled over by the added momentum) and displacing aite's upper spine from his base. Brain-san was (as always) a great help in learning the movement!
All in all I got a much needed workout. I always come away feeling spent-but-open...which means I am tired, but I feel loose and free, not tight and constricted. I also feel good just for having made it to training. Small victories add up.