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You know you had a good work out/class when you wake up the next day and feel sore in some areas. This happened to me Sunday morning. I woke up and begrudgingly got out of bed earlier then I wanted. As I moved about my room, I realized that a few areas of my body were sore. I paused and took the time to think about what we did in class the day before. In all honestly, it was a fairly easy class (as far as strenuous activity goes). So, it really got me thinking. Despite the fact that our workout was easy, it was a good cardio workout and I'm guessing that I used the same muscles I use in most classes, just in a different way. If you take the time to think about it, the human body is a fascinating thing. It really is a miracle in and of itself. The things that a body is capable of are really quite astounding.
So what exactly did I do Saturday? It started off like most Saturday's. By this I mean, I look around I am the only beginner in the dojo. There were five yudansha, a first kyu who was supposed to test for shodan this summer and myself. Whenever I see this, I always mentally prepare myself for a tough class. I guess I should take it as a compliment that sensei throws me into the tough classes. I don't think he really expects too much out of me, but it is nice to know that he thinks I can at least manage enough not to injure myself (or others). What I didn't know was that this wouldn't be a "normal" type of Saturday class. The class somehow evolved into a randori class! We started off with simple partner work. Nothing too different there. Then he had us work with two partners. It started off with your two partners standing on opposite sides of you (either one in front and one behind or one on either side of you). You then had to find a way out of that pressure. The key to this was spinning your way out from the middle. After this exercise, sensei gave us two techniques and we had to use one of these two techniques on our two uke. The goal was to keep them on the same side and not let yourself get in the middle. We weren't really throwing our uke around- just taking them to the point they lost their balance and they would walk a few steps in a direction to catch their balance.
Then sensei had us do the same thing with three uke. To make it a bit easier (probably for me), each person was assaigned an attack. One person would attack shomen, another yokomen and the third would tsuki. He kept encouraging us to be proactive and to walk towards uke and not be afraid to initiate. This was a bit more difficult then two people, but still manageable as we were all going slow and taking it easy (or at least most people were… some were still throwing you about). Sensei had us working in two groups of three, so one group would have time to rest while the other group was up working. It kind of surprised me how much randori takes out of you, especially if you are uke.
Once that was done, sensei then had us stand with four uke pressing on us. This was definitely harder then having two uke press on you. You really felt as if you had no place to go what so ever. Your only option was to spin and try to get out of the jumble of uke. At one point, sensei had us stand in the middle and the four uke would have bokken's. They would all cut shomen at the same time and you had to get out of the circle. We also did the same thing with the uke having jo's. Instead of shomen, they would tsuki. This all went pretty well and though I was a bit intimidated, I did alright. It was nice that I was the last to go each time (we went from highest ranking to lowest), so at least I got to watch several times. I don't recall if we ended up doing randori with four uke or not. I think we did, but I just can't remember…. So maybe we didn't.
At the end of class, sensei had us do some breathing exercises to calm ourselves down. He told us that we would be working on this more in the future and that eventually, we will get to the point where the uke will be able to attack however they wish and you will just have to react. He closed by telling us to not be afraid of retreating during randori, so long as your attention and spirit continue to move forward. He told us, if all else fails and you are in a corner, run until you are in the open and can continue again. He also told us to not be "grabby" during randori. He said that if you grab too much, you can get stuck and it slows you down.
So, as I continue to ponder on whether I actually did something to warrant getting sore muscles, I conclude that perhaps I did. I used my muscles in a different way and I was under a bit of "stress" if you will. I was also thrown about fairly hard at times by an overly ambitious nage. It really takes you surprise when you aren't supposed to be being thrown. It like being tackled during touch football, it happens, but that doesn't mean it is necessarily expected. In the end, I think it was a good class and I learned a lot. I'm sure everyone was easier on me since I am a beginner, but I appreciated the fact that I got the opportunity to try. If it takes sore muscles to continue to progress and learn, I will take them. Push me to my limits and even beyond. Break me down so that I can rebuild myself into a stronger and more accomplished aikidoka. I don't think I'm ready to spread my wings, but I'm beginning to trust that when sensei shoves me off the ledge, that I will be able to open my wings and fly.
On a completely different topic, sensei saw me last week looking at my hours. He said "I know you are way past due to test for 4th kyu." I looked over at him and told him honestly that "I could care less about testing." I then explained that I keep track of my hours at home as well and for some reason, the hours at the dojo and the hours at home didn't match, so I was trying to find the discrepancy. Yesterday after Tai Chi, I was once again trying to figure out where the hours went wrong (this time for my husbands hours). The yudansha that I give a ride came over and asked me if I had enough hours to test. I told him that I did, but felt I wasn't ready to test. I told him that I didn't really feel like I had a grasp on nikyo or sankyo yet and I wanted to feel more comfortable with them before I tested. He looked at me and said "Maybe you should let someone else judge your competency for a change. You aren't testing for shodan you know." I looked over, smiled and mumbled something about being a perfectionist. He chuckled and said "I have no idea what you are talking about." We both laughed as we turned off the lights and locked up the dojo. Good times……….