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Have you ever thought about that while bowing out at the end of class. Hard not to laugh when that pops in your head.... Do yourself a favor and just don't listen to that song before class.
This week was a nice change of pace. I got to do a lot with the tanto. In fact, we have been using the tanto a lot more lately then we have been. I have begun to see the parallels and I believe it is adding to my understanding bit by bit. Tuesday we show up for class and "Sarah" shows up. She has been taking classes for over a year and is a 6th kyu student. She is a very nice girl, but she doesn't quite seem to understand much. She often spaces out. Since she is my sempai, she is supposed to do the technique first. It isn't uncommon for me to have to show her what to do before she can actually do the technique to me. Well, sensei's wife, "Lucy" had just finished teaching the kids class and we were all socializing before she headed down to change. Sarah turned to her and asked "Is there going to be another 5th kyu test soon?" (She was a no show at the last 5th kyu test). Lucy responded with "You know, we haven't had one in a long time and I think we are going to test for that in early November after Chiba sensei's seminar in Eugene." It took all I had not to glare at Sarah. I absolutely have no interest in testing at this moment and I was under the impression from sensei that he would hold off on testing my husband and I until we were ready for the 3rd kyu test. Waiting till 3rd kyu appealed to me. I know that I will have to show more techniques, but I figure that I will have more time to prepare for them. Now I feel completely robbed of time. EEK!
I went from having over a year to less then a month! I went completely from calm and composed to minor panic mode. Now, I remained calm on the outside, but inside all I could think about what how horrendous my techniques are. Just in case you are wondering, I do not have stage fright. I am great at public speaking, I have played sports in front of crowds, I have done martial arts demonstrations in front of strangers, etc. The difference is that I was prepared and confident in what I was doing. With aikido, I am just fumbling around like a monkey solving a math problem. Okay, maybe I am not THAT bad, but I am most certainly not comfortable with my abilities. I guess you could say that I am a competitive perfectionist. Now, aikido isn't really a competitive sport, which just leaves me left to focus on perfecting a technique. Naturally, I get frustrated that my technique isn't where I would like it to be. Yes, I am a beginner but that doesn't mean that it is an excuse to do poorly.
Lucy then looked at me and asked how many hours I had. I knew that she could easily tell how many hours I had because I have been diligently logging me and my husband's hours with each class we attend. I was trapped and I knew it. The only thing I could do was be truthful. I looked down and away from her as I tentatively said "Over 130 hours…." (You only need 50 hours to test.) As I looked back at her she said "Oh. You have more then enough hours to test for 5th kyu then. You should have tested sooner." She then asked if anyone else had enough hours. I quickly told her that my husband and "Sam", (who started the same day we did) have enough hours to test. Heck, if Sarah is dragging me down, I might as well drag my husband and Sam down along with me….
She walked over to the chart where we all keep track of the hours we have trained to see the hours that the other students had. She confirmed that me, my husband, Sarah and Sam all had enough hours. Because there were four of us who are ready to test, that basically sealed the deal. Uck. Not the news I wanted to hear in the beginning of the week.
Sensei walked in to teach aikido and Lucy told him about those who were ready to test. He agreed that the test would be held in November. By the time we all lined up to begin class, I had forgotten all about my testing woes. I don't really recall what we did for that class, but I do remember leaving feeling like I hadn't done terrible. There are just some things that I feel more comfortable with then others.
Wednesday my husband and I go to class. We walk in and Lucy is there as she is going to teach the intro to weapons class (jo this month). While we were standing around loosening up and waiting for the other students to arrive, Lucy approached me and Sarah and had us tie our belts lower on our hips. She said that Chiba sensei has been a stickler for this lately and has even retied quite a few ladies belts at the last seminar that they went to. This new tying location isn't quite working out for me. It keeps riding up and my gi is constantly opening up now. So, I am resorting to pulling my belt down and tugging at the bottom of my gi after most of the techniques. I think I am going to go back to the old way I was tying it. At the same time, I don't want to appear disrespectful to them though. We will just have to see. We all grabbed a jo and lined up. There is just something about that jo that I just don't like. I can't seem to grasp the way you handle it or the way you move it. I try to pretend it is a bokken for some of the things (because some of the motions are supposedly the same), but I just can't seem to make it work for me. I believe I am now at the point that I have accepted that I am horrible with the jo and that it may be something that I am never really much good at. Now, this doesn't mean that I don't try my hardest and that I have just given up on it. It just means that there are some things in life that you just aren't really that good at. I figure I will get better over time, even if I don't really become accomplished with it. Who knows, maybe it will be one of those things where I hate working with it and then all the sudden, it becomes my favorite weapon….. I doubt that will happen, but you never really know.
At the end of the class I put my jo away and then asked Lucy if we had to test when it was offered. I told her that I didn't really want to test at this time because I didn't feel ready. She told me that usually, when you have enough hours you are supposed to test unless there are extenuating circumstances or you feel like you are unready for one reason or another. She then added that she thought I was ready for the test and that I should be there for it. I must have had a look of doubt on my face because she assured me that I would be fine. I joked that I may just get a migraine that day, to which she responded "It's that bad?" I told her not quite as bad, but bad enough….
I then explained to her a few concerns I had about a couple techniques that are on the 5th kyu test. I explained that I thought I should be doing them better and find them easier since they are a requirement for the first test. Sensei walked in and heard this part of the conversation and told me that though kokyuho and suwariwaza shomenuchi ikkyo are on the first test, it doesn't mean that it is an easy technique. He told me that it takes a lifetime to perfect ikkyo and several years to get kokyuho down. He told me that I was wasn't expected to perform the technique above my level. I guess that is true. I person who has been training for 7 months won't look like someone who has been training for years…. but things would be better for me if I did….
Sensei, my husband and I are all chatting while we are stretching out and warming up waiting for the other students to arrive. 5:30 comes and no other students show up. So sensei begins class. I just kept thinking that the other students would show up (as there are a few who are constantly late), but no one did. Turns out that my husband and I got sensei's full attention! That doesn't happen too often. In fact, this is the first time that it has ever happened to us. Sensei had us each get a couple tanto to use. He told us that using the tanto for techniques would help us understand the concept of cutting with the hand once the tanto is no longer being used. We worked on kokyuho (standing and sitting), which of course I struggled with. I can do the technique, but I am using more muscle then I should be. Sensei came over and told me that if it isn't easy, I am doing it wrong. He grabbed my hands to show me the proper rotation. Once this was done, I had it for a bit. It was SO easy! Then, it was my husbands turn. By the time it was my turn again, I had lost it. WAH! We also worked on things from shomenuchi and tsuki. I was actually quite sad when the class came to an end. I really enjoyed the personal attention that we were getting. At the end of class, I told sensei that I wouldn't be in class Saturday and I wouldn't be in class Tuesday or Wednesday either because we were moving. He told me that he would miss us. I told him that he would have plenty of students to throw around. He looked at me and said "Well, they weren't here tonight."
Thursday, one of the sempai's "Jack" taught class. We started off with tai no henko and then he showed us how those movements are used in several other techniques. We worked on kotegaeshi, kaitenage, shihonage and a few other things from katatedori ai hanmi. At one point, I was working with Sarah for kaitenage. Her rolls are not that good, so you have to make sure to go very slow to ensure she has enough time to do the roll on her own. Basically, you take your hand slowly to the mat and stop and then she squats down and rolls on her own. There is nothing making her roll whatsoever. Well, things were going fine and I was being nice and considerate to Sarah. At one point, she decided that she wouldn't roll anymore. She just hung onto my hand. Jack came over and started critiquing my technique and was telling me that I wasn't doing it correctly because she wasn't going into the roll. Now, he started long before Sarah came into the picture, so he is well aware of her abilities. This kind of upset me. I know he knows that she cannot roll (she often rolls over her wrong shoulder as well) and I am surprised she hasn't hurt herself yet. Well, because Sarah was being difficult, I decided to put a bit more into it. She rolled every time (sometimes over the wrong shoulder…. Yikes!) after that. I wasn't mean to her, but I certainly wasn't as nice and considerate to her anymore.
For the second hour, sensei had us get jo's. This class is an intermediate weapons class. Truthfully, my husband and I are not at an intermediate level with weapons, but Sensei has invited us into the class, so we happily attend. We do a lot of partnered work in this class. Sometimes I find it over my head, but I usually enjoy the class. For this class, I felt like I wasn't horribly lost. There were times where I would hesitate to think about what the next move was (after switching roles) but I was able to retain the order for this one a lot better for some reason. I got to work with sensei for a bit and he gave me some very helpful advice. At one point, we were trying to figure out the best way for him to put me into a roll with a jo in both of our hands. Because of the angle of my body, I couldn't really hold onto the jo while I rolled. Sensei told me to just drop it and roll. So I did. When I came back to him he said "Let's not try that way again. You almost got bonked in the head with your jo." The second way we tried he took one end of the jo from me and I held onto the other end until I was in the middle of my roll. Then I let go. That worked alright. The third way we tried he took it from me right before he threw me in the roll. That was okay too. None of these methods were really satisfying him and I asked if I was doing something wrong. He told me no and that he was just messing around with some things. I told him that I would love to see a higher ranker in my position to see what they would do. I did not get to see that though. Haha.
Throughout the evening, sensei had us put our jo's down several times and work on throws that had similar motions used in the partnered kata. At one point, sensei called me up to be his uke. I was grabbing both of his wrists and he was pulling me into him, then he would send me back where I cam from (more or less- sometimes he would put me in another direction on purpose). He had me rolling every which way. While taking ukemi for him, I realized that something was different. Tonight I felt very connected to him. Instead of playing catch up with my body, I was keeping my center connected with him, yet letting my one leg leave from under me to allow me to pivot back the other way. This put me effortlessly into the position for the roll. It was an amazing feeling to just ride his wave of energy. I guess I was completely giving of myself and didn't worry about what was about to happen or what ukemi I would take. When he pulled, I entered, when he pushed, I followed his energy away from him. It was as if I were hyperaware of what was going on. My rolls were nice and smooth and I just kept running back to him for more. I was like a child who just discovered a new game or toy. HAHA. I could tell that sensei was pleased because he was smiling and he threw me more often then he normally would to demonstrate a technique (usually does 4), but this time, he did around 10. This isn't the first time I have felt this way, but this was the first time that I was able to maintain that feeling for that long. Usually it is for one throw and then it disappears as quickly as it came.
After class, I thanked sensei and told him that I hoped he had a great time at the seminar with Chiba sensei. On our way home, my husband out of nowhere looked at me and said "Your ukemi looked great tonight. Your rolls were very smooth and quiet." I smiled and thanked him. He then went on to say "Now I know why sensei called you up to be his uke for that." I looked at him confused. He responded with "He called you up there because he needed someone to go down and get up and you have great rolls. You just kept popping back up for more. You didn't look tired or anything." I couldn't help but smile as I imagined how connected I felt. I sure hope I can capture that feeling again because that is the closest I will ever get to flying.
I ended up not going to class Saturday because I had to wait at our new house for the satellite guy to come and install. He arrived at 12 and then told us that he couldn't install because we didn't have both tv's there and all the cables hooked up. I was so peeved! He responded with "I guess our tech guy didn't tell you that over the phone..." I wasn't upset about the installation not happening; I was upset that I had missed iaido and aikido class for no reason at all. GRRR! So, the satellite guy is coming Tuesday afternoon while we are moving in all of our crap. I guess sometimes things just don't quite go as planned…. No matter how much you try to have things organized.
Things to remember/work on:
1.) Give yourself entirely
2.) Turn your head to the side more during ukemi (for certain techniques)
3.) Tighten your tanden for kokyuho (as well as other techniques)
4.) If it takes effort, you are doing it wrong
5.) Turn your center during kokyuho
6.) Rotate your wrists
1.) Sore right wrist still
2.) Throat still bothering me after 3 weeks.... maybe I need to get it check out......