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Today was a light-to-medium training-day. Aimen and I were both a little late, and so no yudansha were there to start class. A brown-belt decided to take over the warm-up's. Aimen liked this format, and so he had every brown belt present lead the class in one technique (there were about ten or so, in attendance).
It was a good class: the students all were a little nervous, but they demonstrated the techniques with a feeling of humility and a "not-quite-there-yet," approach that left the ego at the door.
After class a brown belt pegged three of us to go over some specifics of randori. In his case, he needed to use his hips more, as I kept grabbing him and clamping on...must have been the leftover ebullience, from yesterday.
And then it was my turn. Mostly we did a weapons-randori (shinai) for a few rounds, followed by a straight randori. We trained for a short period (about 40 min) and then an old friend from another dojo where I used to train dropped by, and we chatted over chai for about 3 hours. It's funny, but this chat felt like training itself, in a way. We talked about Aikido, or more precisely, we talked about relationships in any given dojo.
I'd like to leave it there, partly because it was a private conversation, partly because I am still thinking on that chat. Basically, tho: she had a lot on her mind; and she needed a sympathetic ear to "ease her burden."
I'd say more (maybe I will, later, since this in large part, sans the personal details, will be the thesis of my written paper), but this can wait. I promised you, gentle reader: a listing of the elements of my exam, and I shall not disappoint.
So, here's an itemized list, so far. Of course, the exam is continually a "work-in-progress" (until this Saturday, of course: after which it will be a completed "work-in-progress.") Items subject to change without notice, and uke's in mirror may seem closer than they really are.
* Suwariwaza ikkyo thru rokyo (still deciding on this. I may not have enough time for the last two).
* Hamni handachi, various techniques
* Standing, jiyuwaza, with 3 disparate ranks
* Jiyuwaza, blindfolded
* Iriminage variations
* jo-nage, ikkyo through yonkyo (a la Kato Sensei)
* Bo-ikkyo and -nikyo (a la Anno-Sensei)
* Shinai-randori (a la Saotame Sensei)
* Randori, without weapons
All in 20 minutes.
So, this is what lay before me. I wanted the test to have a wide variety of weapons practice from different styles to reflect the diverse schools of Aikido where I was a student. I also wanted to challenge myself. To me, this is more than simply a "demonstration:" truly, it IS a work in progress and an opportunity to learn more and to deepen my practice. I always wanted to try the Saotame-style "shinai-randori," and I'm here to tell ya, it's harder than it looks (and it looks hard, if you have not seen it). Another challenge I've yet to fully address is the inexperience of my uke's to give good ukemi for this kind of randori...they don't "pursue" as much as Saotame's students, after the first cut (making a mental note to peg some yudansha to work on the ukemi-aspects, before Saturday).
I'd like the pacing of the test to go from straight demonstration of technique (surawiwaza, and very classic), flowing through to standing, jiyuwaza, and so on through the varied weapons demonstrations. I like the "organic" feel of this line-up--very natural.
During my preparation, Linda Sensei gave me a "theme" to work on in preparation for the exam. She wanted me to "think round," and "large." I'd go into more detail, but then I'd have to write a book and try your patience. Perhaps tomorrow, I'll go more into where this theme of "round-ness" took me, in my training.