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Urf. It sure was tough getting out of bed this morning. But, drag myself down to the dojo I did, and my body felt stuck in amber, as I trained. Rigid, slow. And so, I found the class, which focused on opening the hips in a series of responses to ushiro ryote dori's, more than a little challenging. I met with more stiffness than usual in other uke's, which of course meant that I was being more than usually stiff, as well.
And then, after class I did a jiyukeiko with Tarik (big, broad-shouldered yudansha), and we did a sort of continuous, soft-center extended kaishi-waza sort of freeform ukemi-waza. I don't know what you'd call it, but it loosened me up, a little.
After this I went through a dry-run of the exam. I'd say that it was all right. A little rote, maybe: but at this point I was focusing on the rythm the test will take, in the sequence of techniques I will present. I was thinking a little less of "being present," and more about pacing the test.
And then, wham. The randori killed me. In a good way, of course. We practiced starting from "clumping," where all the uke's had me grabbed already, and I had to get out.
Yeah, sure: you might have gone through this exercise and wonder what's the big deal, right? A few twists and turn and the uke's fly, right?
That's the problem with writing about Aikido, you miss the salient details. Like, my energy-level, at this point. It wasn't quite bottom, but I felt winded. My batteries weren't recharging as well as usual. I'd been training about 3hrs by that time and I had about 5hrs of sleep. My arms were aching, I needed water, and there was no stopping the uke's. They were all very fast, strong yudansha: and they so wanted a piece of me!
Does this come off as complaining, or criticizing my uke's? See, there's that problem writing about Aikido. No, actually: they gave me good ukemi and MAN! They did not make it easy.
No, the best way to describe the training today was in the nature of an endurance test. I even asked for water, and the Sempai attending said no, wait till the end. So, we did a number of randori's starting from "clumping," and I tended to get tense in the upper part of my body. The Sempai, Allen, noted that I could use my feet well enough, but all the grabbing around the middle was where all the tension was focused. He advised me to train toward using my lower body to twist out of ukes' grip. He demonstrated a very "twisty" way of moving out of the "Iron Maiden," that is the crush of the uke's. After a few tries, I was able to get out of ukes' clump.
Gosh, I'd write in great detail about all of the cool elements I plan to demonstrate, all the various weapons-kata's, the 1,000 variations of iriminage (in about 4min...all the time I'm allowed, for the iriminage variations), but if you'll excuse me....*Clunk!*......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz