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Saturday morning I had a hard time getting out of bed. Seems that this is becoming more and more frequent, which either means I need more sleep or my meds need to be adjusted. Uck…. getting my meds adjusted means more blood work. So, for now I will just go with me not getting enough sleep. Unless I get to the point where I was before (sleeping all the time and barely making it through an aikido class) I will assume it isn't due to my meds.
While I am getting ready, I get a message from the yudansha I usually pick up and take to class. He says he isn't going this morning. At least this gives me another 20 minutes to get ready. Hard to believe it tacks on an additional 20 minutes to my trip each way… but it does. I get to the dojo and see the usual suspects there getting dressed. I hurry up, change into my semi-warm gi (I always toss it in the dryer before class when it is cold outside) and quickly tie on my hakama. I hurry upstairs and sit in my usual spot (as we sit according to time spent in this class). Today we are to work on mainly defensive and offensive draws. A nice break from the forms we have been doing a lot lately. This was also a nice choice since my head is bothering me a bit this morning. I am blaming my head issues on the weather and allergies at this moment.
We do each draw a few times with Sensei and then he walks off and stands on the raised platform where our shomen is to watch. If he sees something that needs to be corrected, he tells you specifically, or he may make a general statement if we all are culprits of the error. Then, he usually has us do it again to watch. Is he watching for new mistakes, or is he watching to see if you are trying to fix your mistakes; probably both. If he doesn't see something that he needs to vocalize, he quietly steps back down, takes his position and says "Hai" for us to do it once more. Towards the end of class he had us work on a few forms. I once again got corrected for having improper hand rotation. For some reason, my hand just doesn't rotate around like it should on a particular movement. Luckily, this movement is only in a couple forms. I keep trying and trying, but I always end up off. As frustrating as it is (knowing sensei will call me on it after watching me do it for the first time), I keep trying. I keep working at it… because I know that one day, my hand will fall into the proper place and he will then move onto some other problem that I have in that particular form.
Once class was over, three of us sat down for zazen. This usually lasts for a half an hour or so. Sometimes it goes by quickly. Sometimes it seems to drag on forever. Usually, I find this time quite helpful. I find peace in the tranquility of the moment and time does seem to pass fairly quickly. I was also hoping that my head could use the extra half hour to prepare itself for the hour and a half class that was about to ensue. Saturday classes are usually more strenuous and I was hoping my head would be up to the task (I didn't bring any Excedrin). Zazen went quickly and before I knew it, sensei was ringing the bell to signal the end of the session.
While folding my hakama, sensei told me that one of the yudansha wouldn't be here today because he injured his shoulder skiing, which then lead to us having a discussion about our injuries. I told him that thus far I had been pretty lucky and have only dislocated a thumb and sprained an ankle. I went on to explain how I incurred those injuries and how I dealt with them. He then began to tell me about a few of his injuries. One being broken ribs on the same day as a seminar he was supposed to help teach in. I have always found it interesting how people deal with pain and injuries. Some people baby the injury and see a doctor immediately. Others suck it up and deal and refuse to see a doctor because "It isn't that bad." Some people continue to train on the mat after taping the area or wearing support. Others choose to stay off the mat and observe. Still, there are others who opt to not come to the dojo at all.
I myself am a "tape it up and get back on the mat" kind of girl. At least to a certain point. If I had a cast around my leg, I wouldn't be out there hobbling around the mat or anything. Sore muscles, a little bit of blood, bruising, achy joints or back, sciatica and even a light sprain wouldn't keep me off the mat. As for a broken toe or finger, I can't say. Maybe I would. If the pinky toe I stubbed back in the fall (which still hurts to this day) was actually a break, then I guess… yeah… I would still train. Now, one 2nd kyu student had his big toe broken in class. That is a little different. Your big toe does a lot of work and plays a part in balance. So, I could see not partaking in class. A severely sprained wrist or ankle might warrant sitting out of class as well. The last thing you need is to have your wrist tweaked the wrong way or having your sprained ankle rolled or whatever while running in circles for ukemi.
I guess in the end, you just have to listen to your body and see what is right for YOU. Just because someone else trained with that same injury doesn't mean it is the right thing for you to do. Once our conversation about injuries came to an end, Sensei left the dojo via the back door (the inside way to the downstairs) and I left via the front door (go outside and walk to the side door that goes downstairs). I quickly used the bathroom and traded my iai obi for my regular obi. As I walked back outside to head towards the dojo, I started thinking about the fact that I didn't see anyone else downstairs. I walked inside the dojo and found two people inside: Sensei and his wife. Sensei had a jo. I rei'd onto the mat and looked at sensei and said "I don't know if there is enough mat space for all of us today." Sensei was playing around with his jo. He smiled and told me to "Get a jo."
The class actually turned out to be both fun and quite the learning experience. Because there were just two of us, sensei was able to watch. For the most part, he didn't really make many corrections. I guess he was allowing me to feel my way through it. The only time he would step in is if I got confused as to the footwork or if I was confused about flipping the jo around (we were working on all the basic responses to kesa- spelling?) The comments I did receive were: Drop lower to the floor, hit the hand, make the drop heavier, take her jo all the way to the mat, etc. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the class. It was relaxed and we took everything nice and slow. This allowed me to digest what I was being shown and I found it easier to replicate (or at least attempt to replicate) what I was shown. At the end of the class, I got a little show. Sensei and his wife showed me Sansho 1, 2 and part of 3 (and I don't mean the three parts of sansho 1 either). It was beautiful to watch and I would love to get to that point some day!
Once class was over, sensei asked me if I was staying for the healthy neck and shoulders workshop. I told him that I would stay if I had the money. He told me that they would give me a scholarship to attend. I thanked him and told him I would love to attend. I then asked Sensei if he wanted me to run the mats by myself (we soak rags in a water/vinegar mixture and run the rags up and down the entire mats). He told me not to worry about it. He told me that I could sweep the mats though. The strange part was, I was completely willing to run the mats alone. It wouldn't really have bothered me. I went into the upstairs bathroom and got the broom for the mats. Once I finished sweeping those, I grabbed the other broom and swept the floor. I took the rug outside and shook out all the dirt. Once I put everything back where it was, I grabbed a rag and went and dusted the shomen. I couldn't believe how dusty it was up there! I can only imagine when it was last dusted. I will have to make an effort to dust it myself more often.
The whole time I was cleaning, I found the experience to be very rewarding. I actually enjoyed cleaning the dojo by myself. I got to thinking if this was a taste of what being an uchideshi was like. How I would love to be in a uchideshi program. Our dojo doesn't have one, but they do have a kenshusei program. As far as I know, no one is partaking in that program right now. This would seriously interest me if it weren't for me living 30 minutes away and being married. I would have to train more then I already am (four days a week) and I am pretty sure my husband would like me home. We hardly see each other as it is now with him working weekends and his "weekend" occurring on Tuesday and Wednesday.
I walked downstairs and asked sensei if he minded if I stuck around the dojo until the seminar started. He told me I was more then welcome to stay. I told him I was going to walk to the coffee shop and asked if he wanted anything. After a long pause, he decided against it. I told him I locked the outside dojo door and would go upstairs about 15 minutes before the seminar to unlock the door and wait for everyone to come. He agreed that would be fine and then told me he was going to pick up the skeleton they needed for the workshop. I then changed and took all my crap back to the car. I then went to the coffee shop and got my chai tea and a slice of banana bread. I hadn't eaten since 7:30 this morning and wouldn't be home until around 5. Once I got back, I plopped myself on the couch downstairs and called my mom. While chatting, I ate my bread and drank my tea. Once I got off the phone with her, I emptied the two trashcans that were downstairs and then played games on my phone till sensei came back. He walked in without the skeleton and asked if anyone brought it by. I told him that no one stopped by. He then unlocked the spare room upstairs and asked me if I could take out the blankets for the workshop and asked if I could create a sign in sheet as well. I told him I would take care of it. He then told me he was going out again to find the skeleton.
At 12:45, I went upstairs and unlocked the dojo door. I stood around waiting. When people started coming in, I asked them to take off their shoes, sign in and collected the fee for the workshop. Turns out that about 13 people or so showed up to the workshop! The workshop wasn't quite what I expected, but I learned a bit more about the mechanics of the body and the importance of keeping your body in a "neutral" position. At one point during the workshop, someone asked what aikido was. Sensei motioned for me. I quickly ran over to him and grabbed his wrist. He threw me into a roll and then when I grabbed again he did kokyunage. After his mini demonstration the workshop took a break. A few older ladies walked over to me and asked if being thrown like that hurt. I explained that once you learn to fall properly, falls like that aren't a big deal. I then went on to tell them about a gentlemen we had training in our dojo (but I had never met) who trained into his 90's. Sensei came over and told them a bit more about various people he has worked with and told them about a guy he worked with who only had one leg. He said that this man had some of the best ukemi he has ever seen. Once sensei walked away, I told them that it is never too late to learn.
At the end of the seminar, I walked around collecting and folding the blankets, returning the blankets to the spare room, putting the zafu back, throwing away trash and answering questions. A couple people were interested in taking the ATM or aikido classes, so I went downstairs to find some schedules for them. When most of the people had left, I asked sensei if he needed me for anything else. He told me I was free to go, but asked if I could stay till the last person left, turn off the lights and lock up the dojo. I told him it wouldn't be a problem and then thanked him for allowing me the opportunity to take the seminar. I patiently waited for the guy to gather his belongings and then closed up the dojo. Time to head home to my husband and shih tzu!