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It's been 4 years since my last post. I do ever so rarely come here anymore because of life. It is what it is, but now it's time to reflect.
4 years ago was when I started teaching dance. Since then, I've been coined the name Niko "Suave" and have made myself somewhat popular in the world of salsa, teaching and performing around the US, and in Puerto Rico just a month and a half ago. To see some of my work, partnerships, and involvements, check out youtube. Search Niko "Suave", SalSubZero or Minneapolis Salsa Movement.
With a profession like dance instruction, the time to commit to Aikido training was tougher since most my work is in the evening. It wasn't until my head instructor took seriously his involvement in my growth and development, that I gave it a chance as well. I've been doing Aikido for 12 years, on and off, A LOT. It was ridiculous how much lack of dedication I had to the actual practice, but every time I come back I'm always told because of my dancing that it's like I haven't missed much. My Ikkyu test was just last April.
What made a huge difference, and in Ki Society, Ikkyu is the exact same test as shodan, but it counts as a pretest for shodan. I spent over 9 months of more intensive training about 10-20 hours a week, and an additional 8 months prior to get back in the groove of commitment to the training.
Let me tell you what happened in my shodan test... it wasn't going so well for me at first, at least that's how I felt. I was failing the ki tests, I was performing the arts with less than shodan level relaxation and every time I did something right, I hesitated. And actually, it was still very much a pretest, because the senior instructor hadn't seen the results of any of my training beforehand.
The highlight of the test and to my disbelief was the randori. They started me off with 2 people, which lasted for 15 seconds, then to 4 people, which was the standard, lasted for 25 seconds, and then suddenly, out of the blue, 6 people, thinking I was done already. I was asked if I'd ever done 6 people, and I said no. I was convinced it was easier, and he just had to see. That lasted 30 seconds and stopped it. Then he told 2 people to sit down, so there were 4 remaining. 3 of the 4 he asked respectively to get a jo, a bokken and a tanto. Again he asked, have you ever done this before? I said no, already exhausted prior to this part of my testing. I was convinced yet again, that it was even easier, and asked me why that would be. All I could answer was that, they have to watch out for each other more because of the reach and sharpness of weapons. He acknowledged I answered correctly and off I went. What felt like forever was about 40 seconds, and I felt like there was a slow motion movie playing as I was dealing with each person.
I had an applause for an impressive randori, for which I never really trained much, and only understood it just a few weeks before. I was thinking, "what's next?" Then it was done.
I'll cut the senior instructor's explanation short, but basically he made it everyone's attention that I was a dancer and didn't have to think about where my feet were, and my hands stayed calm and soft the entire time, as if I was dancing. Which was why he had to see how I would do in higher standard situations.
The feeling I got wasn't anywhere near where it should be(by this meaning what people think I should be feeling, because they apparently were impressed). I didn't feel proud, I didn't feel stable, and certainly didn't feel like I passed any test. Well oh well, I didn't find out the results that day.
The next day, I was recognized for a job well done, it was one of the more impressive Shodan pretests they'd seen, and basically said, they did not need to see it again. I should run the test again with my own instructors as a celebration of my experience that weekend. It's only been over a week since, and I'm still having trouble letting people know that I'm a black belt, after so long.
I'm looking forward to learning more. I'm only starting to feel good.