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This last couple weeks or so of my newly-regular, but still half-assed, shugyo, had some interesting stuff for me. I've been really focusing on my hips and legs. A bit too much perhaps because I have noticed some tightening in the hips and knees. After about a half an hour they loosen up though and things start to feel good again. My feet are constantly tired which probaly means I'm using too much muscle. However, a couple nights ago I have to say they felt great. It was a slight return to that stable feeling I remember having back when I was training very seriously. The biggest part of my focus in on feeling both hips at the same time and tracking how they rotate with regard to each other. I remember being told to think of "smearing" a technique into the other person by sensei and by one of my sempai and this sliding/smearing quality came to mind last night while I was rotating my legs/hips in various movements. At one point I had some personal realizations last night that kind of hit me in the face. We all need time to ourselves, but it dawned on me that I've been getting rather selfish in my own subtle ways. It's the product of having kids who take up all my time...and I've been very accustomed to operating in my own time. Having the thought has cleared up a bit of energy, and I woke up this morning after being up "all" night feeling pretty good. I should add I started my practice last night feeling under the weather and finished feeling top notch.
A few days ago the wind was cold and I only practiced for 30 minutes before coming in. I had mixed feelings because I want to push through stuff like that a bit more. Something to bear in mind I guess.
The other major thought I've been wanting to share has to do with my old gi, which gave up the ghost at the Aiki Taisai. This was my very first gi so it had a bit of sentimental attachment. Here's one of the few things that make me consider there might be something other than the plain old physical world we commonly think of: at one point I had a dream wherein the embroidery of the mitsudomoi on my left shoulder turned from black to a faded reddish brown. In the dream I remember being disappointed because it meant I had let my training fade. Some time later, pulling the gi out of the wash, it had been over-bleached and sure enough the embroidery was a faded brown. By this time I had almost stopped training. Right or wrong, this event shaped the way I looked at my training. It was gone, even though I considered myself an "aikidoka" and still thought about Aikido quite a bit. I've always loved having my bokuto and jo sitting in the corner in case I felt like taking a few cuts, so maybe not "gone," but all but so. Friday night after the Taisai, I came home and looked outside at the sky and thought about the past; thought about my gi, which I had spent a few years sweating hard and diligently in, fading because I allowed myself to get distracted by all kinds of things. Then I thought about how that gi is done and now I have another one and that while I may not ever be a "great" (relatively speaking) martial artist like I had once thought, I'm still here on the planet and I'm doing better than, well, proably ever before. It was a nice bit of closure for some of the guilty feelings I've had about my own training.
...Now I just have to keep practicing.