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Well the weather has definitely changed. Over the course of about a day or two I went from shorts and a t-shirt to wishing I had gloves in addition to the heavy winter jacket I put on. Last night the stars were beautiful, but they took on the luster of icy diamonds because of the cold air. This morning I can see the heavy dew in the blades of grass and it's about 41 degrees F. Soon they'll be frosted.
As per the current trend, last night I did my standard "warm up" practice routine: hakkushu; furi tama; ame no tori fune undo; and ibuki undo. I also spent a "large" amount of the time doing shomen uchi and negaeshi uchi. All in all only about 40-45 minutes.
Negaeshi uchi is one of my favorite motions to practice for how the winding and unwinding seems to help my shoulder girdle loosen up and align better with my torso and base. The feeling I'm getting is one of building tension in the winding motion which gets more or less released in the cut. The tension is a twisting stretching feeling through as much of my body as I can muster...I feel it most in my shoulders, scapula, and lower abdomen. Then I would try to include the hip/femur socket in the continuity of the stretching feeling. Note: where I feel it most is also where I get the sense I should be less tense; that's where parts of the "whole-body spiral stretch" are binding up. It was interesting to cut/return directly into the centerline compared to fading more off to the outside of the line.
The feeling I get is that the stretching, because it's spiral, orients things more or less about the central "thread" connecting the ground to the tip of (and beyond) the bokuto; the cleaner the stretching spiral (i.e. alignment) the more balanced I tend to feel afterward and the freer and lighter my movements seem. I imagine threads connecting shoulder to hip and then trying to make those two threads into a helix about my spine, which seems to help relieve a lot of back tension. There have been evenings where my neck or shoulders or whatever chronic ache I'm dealing with get relieved if I spend enough time just focusing on this soft twisting while extending intent/ki in all directions. For "generating" intent in all directions (to whatever extent I can be said to be doing or not doing so, at least) I'm essentially feeling my whole body, imagining the things around me in all directions, and reaching for as many of those things with my body at the same time as I can muster. It's hard to hold a lot of things in mind and to have a clear sense of them, so I go back and forth between "all" and "part." The reaching in all directions with the awareness is tied very heavily to the concept of zanshin, I would guess...and is perhaps an embedded function?
I've been thinking how the twisting is like turning your body into a rope, which is just a series of relatively weak strands twisted together; the twisting gives the strands a self-supporting dynamic, which makes them collectively quite strong. So I think of my body as a living rope, the difference being that my living rope creates new fibers the more I use it; the more I "purify" the spiral, the more balanced and complete the gathering of strands in the task of bearing loads.
Once again this blog post feels haphazard, but that'll happen when you've got a 2 year old climbing on you and asking for "mo' owanges p'ease papa." It's a beautiful morning...even though last night was a cruel joke of sleep (my oldest woke up at about 1am and didn't really get back to sleep until almost 3). Now to make sure I don't burn myself out on too much coffee!
Have a great day, everyone!
Be excellent and party on, dudes!