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I was planning on attending the taisai friday and saturday, but was unable to make it saturday. Possible proof of karma, perhaps. I was looking forward to the misogi and chinkon no gyo, particularly after friday night's awesome training. It was easily one of the funnest time's I've had on the mat.
I felt like I learned a lot, but also, I felt relatively loose and much more purposeful when I moved, although nowhere near as precise as I'd like to be.
During the open-mat period I was able to train with a sempai with whome I first went to Japan over ten years ago. We had a lot of fun warming up; a mild form of jiyuwaza.
As usual, after bowing in, we began with bokuto, which is becoming more and more fun to me. We went outside and commenced. I enjoy the seriousness which comes from swinging a stick around; it sharpens the senses; speeding up the neural pathways; sharpening the body and mind in its own way. Mugamae; seigan; negaeshi uchi; etc. Each one a part of the somewhat infinite whole; each one a proverbial grain of sand through which to view the universe of action.
Thoughts on the training:
cut from a very specific place to a very specific place
have a sense of moving from and receiving toward the feet; driving through the hips
After several kata and some focus on their parts, we went inside for taijutsu. Just as we started walking through the tori back toward the haiden, the slightest bit of rain began to fall. This made me think of timing and brought to mind the inner workings of a clock: each part doing what it does and via the virtue of how it's connected, affecting how each other part does what it does. Some parts are leading the movement more than others, but each part is present/active and crucial to the whole interaction.
I spent most of my time training with visiting guests. It was an interesting experience because as a student of my teacher I felt a sense of responsibility for expressing our practice, but on the other hand I feel so woefully inadequate in my understanding. At one point I even asked a training partner if she would mind starting as nage. Her reply was, "I'm not from here..." In my defense I thought she had trained there before. She's the wife of an uchi deshi so I assumed she knew better than me (and in all likelihood she does, generally speaking), but that was the moment I started to come out of my shell a little and really try to think about what to suggest where suggestions seemed reasonable. I think a common "problem" I have is the habit of stepping back in interactions. I grew up with people where that was often the easiest route to take: sit back; observe; be active only when you're sure you know how you ought to. It's served me ver well in a number of settings and social interactions, but it's also caused me to be shy through habit; to have an automatic uncertainty; an assumed ignorance, even at times where I have pertinent understanding. Given the choice between assumed ignorance and assumed understanding, I'd rather presume ignorance and be pleasantly surprised, but the automatic nature of my behavior could be improved I think. It reminds me of an axiom sensei Barrish taught me a long time ago (and which I recall others repeating recently): when the enemy comes to the gate, greet him. I imagine this to be the difference between continual-and-contiguous progression and collapse; of the nature of irimi both as a simple action and as the embodied behavior which permeates everything we do.
...my current thinking, at any rate.
I'm disappointed I missed satureday's events. As I was training friday night I tried to think of what I understand of O Sensei, and apply whatever sense of that I could muster, into my training. Instead of being at the taisai saturday, I recited the Misogi no O Harai norito and tried to focus on some of the meaning behind misogi no gyo and chinkon no gyo; I enjoyed the sunshine saturday morning and took some cuts with bokuto. There was a feeling of gyo involved, despite it being very slight in expression. I was tired...exhausted is more like it, since I was up all night with my 8mo. old, who is learning the gyo of not being fed at night while mama is enjoying a "mom's weekend" with some friends. Despite this I woke up at 6:45 feeling surprisingly genki. At any rate, I really enjoyed the relaxed, fuzzy-but-focused feeling and while it was by no means a comprehensive expression of Aikido no gyo, it was my own; and it was both a continuation of my re-sprouted training and an expression of thanks for one person who did his best in life to be his best. I have no doubt that was his basic intent and I am grateful to people like that for providing an example of some form of greatness; of "personal gyo" for others to learn something from.
Douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu!
Matthew J. Gano