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I've been trying to write a blog post over the last few days, but haven't had much motivation. Just as there is no try, no blog came forward either. Today's keiko was a lot of fun though and I think it has provided the impetus for me to write an account of my training this week.
The last several evenings I've been practicing between 30 minutes and an hour, trying to focus on breath and movement as well as loosening up my hips and wrists. I've been feeling rather tight and beginners' keiko on thursday reinforced this idea. I reverted into the older style of ai hanmi katate tori during the demonstration of waza and had a hard time pulling it together (forgot the correct attack for what we've been working on, in other words), and I just felt really stiff and not real responsive. Still, it was good to get thrown around, and I always can stand a reminder for how quickly things can tighten up.
My plum tree finally has some plums on it that didn't either fall off too soon or rot on the branch so I brought a bunch to offer to kamisama. I've come to really enjoy sharing what I get from my garden. I don't always have much in the way of money and while sensei has alway been very magnanimous about this, I always feel a little better about it when I have something extra to offer to the jinja, slight though it may be.
The weather was perfect, as has been so often the case this summer, so we headed outside to train. We went down to the river and waded across to the little island. The rocks always make for an interesting surface; I enjoy the massage they give my feet. Some of the paired exercises were new. In one, we're basically each doing kesa uchi and the bokuto meet in the middle. I worked hard on connecting the movements between my hips and shoulders. We followed it with the same exercise using only tegatana. At one point my partner smiled and said it suddenly got much harder to control me: it was when I suddenly remembered I have two hips. Funny how just thinking about both sides can help engage them. Shortly, I started pulling too much, but it was nice to suddenly remember something and then have it make an improved effect...although I often feel like a two year old picking up bunches of toys wherein each new acquisition causes a previous one to fall. I regularly feel like I have to constantly return to picking up the old "toys." But I guess that's training. All in all, I was able to remember the sequences shown pretty well, which made me happy. Walking back through the cool water was a nice refreshing break before going inside to formally begin taijutsu.
Sensei asked for kyu requests and as usual I was slow in replying. I have a habit of always waiting to see if others want to work on something. Turns out someone did so we worked on ai hanmi katate tori kokyu nage omote. We focused on a few different aspects of the body movement: offering one shikaku surface for the katate tori suppression, but rolling it over to greet with another; planting the elbow on aite to really get a sense for controlling the centerline; activating the back to assist in wrapping aite around us before cutting back into him/her; controlling the upper spine and lower spine and several other toys I've since dropped. I spent most of my time training with a new student which is always good for figuring out how to connect meaningfully. One interesting observation I had is how reluctant newer folks can be to throw you. I'm not great at ukemi, particularly if there's anything tricky going on, but I generally feel pretty comfortable with being knocked over, so I tried to get him to do that. There were a couple times where he filled in my space pretty well and it was nice to be thrown instead of "inviting" the throw to happen as I usually did. Ironically though, I think I tend to still be a bit reluctant to throw sometimes...or at least to not be as clear and assertive with my actions (e.g. collapsing a bit as I think about where/when to put aite on the mat). The more (consistently) I train though, the more I see things coming together, so I'm feeling pretty happy about my slow but steady progress right now.
I've got a couple of people who have expressed a willingness to work with me at odd times to add to my training. It will be hard to make these work I think, but I really want to train more and this seems like a good opportunity to add to what I've been able to do so far. Time will tell.
...and now to practice some more on my own. Good night!