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This week has been a bit of a blur. Tuesday seems like the distant past; almost like a foggy hint of a dream…. Anyway, despite the fact that I don't really recall much of anything, I do know that I left the class feeling alright with myself. Having all the new people there has slowed the class down a bit, which is just what I needed that night. Going slow allows me the chance to really analyze and/or feel what I am doing. I appreciate the opportunity of working with beginners. First off, it shows me that I have gotten better over the past 9 months or so and working with them helps me realize my own mistakes. They don't know how to move, so you really have to do the technique right to get them moving. If I don't lift their elbow, it isn't going. They aren't able to move yet and they can't anticipate what you are doing, so they can't be nice to you. Working with the beginners is a sobering experience that can be both challenging and rewarding.
At the end of the class sensei had me and a yudansha demonstrate suwariwaza ryotedori kokyuho. Well, I didn't really demonstrate so much as take the ukemi for it. The dojo was so hot and muggy that I lost grip of his wrist. Sensei scolded me for it and I made sure it didn't happen again after I wiped my hands on my pants. Since the class was an odd number, sensei reid to me and offered to work on the technique from standing (he isn't able to do suwariwaza right now). I wasn't really expecting him to take me all the way to the mat, but he ended up putting me first into a roll and then decided to put me into a breakfall. Once that was done, he sorta hip threw me. I'm not sure if he wanted me to turn into him (so our chests were facing the same direction) or not, so I stayed where I was and he hip threw me to the mat. He did that a few times. One time he threw me harder then he meant to and asked me if I was fine. I quickly got to my feet and told him I was (I didn't think I was thrown hard at all actually).
At this point, sensei decided to move on. He had me grab him again and then he stepped in. He told me to turn so we were facing the same way, so I did. He then dropped his hips and raised me up on his back. YAY! This was going to be a fun throw! Next thing I know, he is doing koshinage to me. He was very slow and gentle (a bit to my disappointment because being thrown slow messes up my timing a bit). I think he was just test driving my comfort with this type of throw and seeing how I would land. I got back up to my feet and said "That was fun!" I guess this was what sensei wanted to hear because he decided to throw me a few more times and each time he threw me it got a little bit faster. The last time he threw me I felt like my landing was perfect. My slap had great timing and I thought to myself "That was the best yet!" then sensei quickly popped my bubble by saying "You land too hard."
At that point, sensei clapped and had us line up to bow out of class. After class, we went downstairs I asked sensei how I could practice soft breakfalls. He explained that there are times when all of your body should land at once and there are times where you can slightly round your body. He told me that my fall was not incorrect, but he wanted me to start working on taking softer breakfalls. I told him that I was more then willing to try and then said that it would probably be a hard habit for me to break because that is how I was taught to land in my previous style. Sensei smiled and said "Yes. You have jujitsu style landings." I know I can start working on these softer breakfalls because the rest of my ukemi has become softer over the past few months. Before, all of my falls were "hard" but I have learned to take softer landings. I am sure my breakfalls would become the same way if given the opportunity to work on them more often.
Wednesday's class was very hectic. The class was non-stop and it wasn't long before we had the windows all foggy. It was actually nice to have very little rest period in between the techniques because I need the exercise. I have been doing nothing but pigging out for the past few weeks (Thanksgiving, dojo potluck, work potluck, Christmas is coming up and New Years is coming up). The only thing I really remember is one time sensei called me up to be uke. He was demonstrating gyaku hanmi katatedori kaitenage to katagatame. Well, the first time he did it, I wasn't sure what was going on. At first I was going forward and I thought I was going into a roll, but then I could feel myself being pulled back, so I followed. I ended up where I was supposed to be, albeit it clumsily. I sheepishly looked up at sensei and apologized. It doesn't happen too often that I don't do what is expected of me, so when it does happen I feel very stupid. After that, I didn't have a problem. About three times he took me down partway and then let me up. I don't know if he was just seeing if I was going down or if I was still being lively or not, but I think I passed the test because I popped back up as soon as he wasn't taking me down anymore.
Thursday there were four students. Two yudansha, me and the guy I always mention who has been there a little over a year. Since both of us are 5th kyu, the yudansha decided to make the class based around the 4th kyu testing requirements. I found this very useful because the techniques that we did were techniques that I have either never done before or haven't had much practice with. I really appreciated the opportunity and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a very laid back and casual class, which was nice because it allowed for the opportunity of asking questions. I can't ask questions in an every day class because we try to minimize talking in the class. That isn't to say that you can't ask questions, but the opportunity isn't as available as it was for this class.
Here is a list of techniques we worked on. I was told this was about 1/3 or the list of requirements for the 4th kyu test:
Gyaku hanmi katatedori:
Soto kaitenage sankyo
Once that class was over, it was the same four of us for the weapons class that sensei taught. We did some jo combinations as well as jo versus bokken combinations. It was a lot of fun. Although my technique with the jo is horrendous I noticed that I was improving a bit. Bit by bit, the corrections from sensei are slowly changing, which means one of two things: I am either getting better at it so he has moved on to fixing something else or that I am so hopeless that he has given up on correcting that habit. HAHA. I would like to think it is the first one. The other 5th kyu who was there was having some difficulties with the testing requirements and with the jo and I think that is what also made me realize that I am progressing with the evil jo after all. I guess in the end I realized two things: big wheels keep on turning and blood, sweat, bumps and bruises do lead to improvement over time.