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Class this week has been rather interesting. With the influx of new students, things have dropped down a gear or two. Usually, I would prefer things to ramp up for a test, but this time, I find myself enjoying the pace. My theme song for this week is "Slow Ride". Because of that, how can I not take it easy? This lower gear doesn't mean I am taking things any easier. Instead, I find myself focusing on some simple details, such as balance, using my center and really trying to use my hand as a blade of a sword and really activating my wrists. Although I am not really making great headway on either of these, I am becoming more aware of just how little I use or have all of these.
Wednesday, for the second hour of class it was all yudansha again. Well, all except for me. It was a great class. We did some variations of things that I haven't or have rarely done. It was actually nice to do something that did not directly involve techniques on my test. Sure, you could always find some similarities, but they weren't the exact technique or the same variation that is being asked of me. It makes it easier to unwind and just enjoy the moment. We were constantly on the move and it was a great cardio workout. I am certain I burned off the cinnamon-apple donut I ate earlier that day.
Yesterday I had trial, so I was tromping around town in my heels. They are actually quite comfy since I broke them in a while ago, but with my injured foot…. the right foot varied between uncomfortable and painful throughout the day. Before class I took some ibuprofen and headed off to class. My foot got a little tender during class because Erin had us doing some rolls and suwariwaza. We worked on suwariwaza morotedori and ryotedori shihonage. Towards the end of class, she had the 4th kyu candidates go to the front of the dojo and she would have us take turns working on test techniques and the rest of the class stayed in the back and worked on something else.
When sensei showed up, I went and told him that I was going to sit out and watch the second hour of class so I could ice his foot. He acted a bit disappointed and mentioned that we were going to be working with bokken, so it wouldn't be too bad on my foot. I told him in that case I would give it a shot. He told me to sit out for ten minutes or so to ice my foot and then I could join in. It seemed like a good compromise, so after running the mats with rags, I went downstairs via the door by the shomen and took the bucket and rags with me.
Once downstairs, I rinsed out the rags and hung them on the drying rack. I then went to the freezer and took out the frozen bag of peas I have developed a bit of a resentful relationship with. On my way back upstairs, I paused by the door and listened. All was quiet, so I knew class had started already. There is no way I am going in via the shomen door. That is when I realize my shoes are at the front entrance of the dojo. I walk back downstairs and go around barefoot. The cold, wet jagged rocks dug into my feet as I made my way around. Once inside, I cleaned my feet off with a few baby-wipes and then sat down to ice my foot.
I sat there during most of the warm-ups, but I eventually got too anxious and sat in seiza until sensei bowed me into class. I ran/ hobbled and got the bokken that I seem to use. It isn't mine, but sensei let me take it to the weapons seminar and ever since then, I have kind of adopted it as mine. Or at least until his son comes back to claim it! I really need to get my own, but somehow it always gets put off. Bills are always more important then the aikido toys I need. As we went across the dojo making our cuts, I found myself tripping a bit. My foot was colder then I realized and I couldn't really feel the mat as I would have liked. Sensei decided that today he would have us work on the fifth kumitachi. It seemed a bit complicated at first, but once I did it a few times, I could at least navigate the form.
I was working with Don, another 5th kyu and the two yudansha were working together. Usually a higher and a lower partner up, but I thought this worked out for the best. That way they could get in some good quality practice and me and Don could take our time to go through the form. Sensei kept a watchful eye on us and frequently gave me corrections. Make sure you are stepping 90 degrees, thrust strongly, don't move too early, don't drop your tip when you cut faster, etc, etc. I actually enjoy getting these corrections (even though it means I am doing something wrong). I know he is paying attention to me and I know that he is trying to help me get better. Not to mention, the way he tells you and shows you is done in a way that doesn't make me feel bad at all for my errors.
At the end of class, he decided to do something a bit more simplistic- san no tachi. For this, I worked with a visiting yudansha. At the end of class, sensei was describing how supposedly, each of the kumitachi represent different things (pine tree, bamboo and plum blossom). He said that he couldn't really recall which was which and he also mentioned that squares, triangles and circles were in the forms as well. When he was finished talking, I told him that I am not yielding or graceful like any of those. This elicited chuckles from everyone. He responded telling me that I have my moments.
As I went downstairs, I thought about what he said. I think I do have my moments. Unfortunately, I am not always aware of them and they do come few and far between at this time. A moment is but a blink in time. It is temporary and ever changing. It quickly becomes the past and is often forgotten. It is comforting to know that I am capable of being graceful or yielding, if but a moment. If only I could lock into that moment and keep hold of it. Sadly, as hard as I try, the moment always slips out my grip and passes me by. You can be IN the moment, but you can never stay…..