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So what did it take to get to Shodan?
03-09-2010 11:19 PM
Yup, it's rank retrospective time again - this time, however, it's the one you've all been waiting for - well, at least the one I've been building up to all these years: The Ultimate Tally!
Things learned since Ikkyu...
- "The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle." - A Marine Corps motto, apparently based on an old Chinese proverb (Thanks to Greg Koukl for drawing my attention to this highly motivating quote!)
- The confidence that comes from being highly prepared
- That sometimes trying to describe technique with words (even to yourself) can not only be inadequate but highly misleading
- The power of visualization to influence the mind-body connection
- That mnemonic devices are invaluable for condensing a lot of information (such as a long set of test techniques) into smaller "chunks" for quick memory access
- That I look super small next to everyone else (at least in our videos) but when I'm doing Aikido I sure don't feel that way
- That according to Kawahara Sensei, I have "very good Tae Sabaki"
- That I've still got an awful lot to learn
Stats/Little Milestones as of 03/06/10 (* - denotes change since last tally at Ikkyu):
Training w/current dojo since - January 8, 2003
*Number of classes attended - 1533
Number of days extra training on the weekend - over a dozen? (lost count after we started outside practices in Summer 2006)
*Number of seminars attended - 9
Number of other dojos visited while traveling - 6
Number of classes at other dojos as visitor - 6
*Total number of hours training - approx. 2676.5
*Number of journal entries - 255
INJURIES AND other "OOPSES":
*Number of hours of remedial massage - 7.5
*Number of visits to the physiotherapist - 10
Number of neoprene/Tensor joint braces accumulated - 6
Number of weapons broken - 1
Number of concussions - 1
*Number of times I've been hit in the eye (by a weapon or otherwise) - 3
*Number of scars incurred from training-related injury - 2
Number of times I've been hit on the head by a weapon - 2
Number of fat, bloody lips (received from Sensei's atemi) - 4
Total number of joint sprains/other injuries (ankles, big toe, wrist, thumbs, etc.) - 13
Number of bloody noses - 1.0
Number of huge, freaky bruises accumulated - innumerable; but then I stopped counting and noticing them long ago
Number of times my massive Yonkyo bruises freaked someone out - 2
*Number of times large clumps of hair have been accidentally wrenched out of my ponytail by Nage (ie. stepping on it) - 6
*Number of rolls of athletic tape consumed -- 5.5
Number of Salonpas patches consumed - 15
Number of pounds of Epsom Salts used to soak in hot baths - 8
Number of patches sewn and other repairs to dogi - 9
Number of dogi retired due to becoming worn and ripped beyond repair - 2
Number of people I've injured in practice = 0 and plan to keep it that way
Number of people who've caused me chronic/long-term injury during practice = 2
Number of Kohai gained - I've stopped counting...too many people come and go.
*Number of other females who joined the dojo briefly and left - 9 *sniff* :0(
Number of other females who joined the dojo and have stayed long enough to rank - 1 (Lisa...yup, she's still here, still takes good ukemi, and hopefully will be testing for her Sankyu in May)
Largest number of simultaneous Randori attackers successfully faced - 5
Largest number of people simultaneously diverolled over - 4
So what have I learned so far?
- The power of Kiai and its connection to Kokyu and Hara
- Proper alignment makes technique feel smooth and almost effortless
- Under pressure and with intense focus or "Mushin", the body can act (with seeming independence) to perform technique out of pure instinct due to practice/repetition
- The importance of visualization
- I've finally come to see my size more for its potential advantages and am noticing creative ways to adapt more often than I used to
- I get into this "zone" when I test and sometimes even when I'm attacking in Jiyu Waza. So much so, that I can even forget who I'm supposed to be attacking. :-D
- I really overthink things, but thankfully this happens more after-the-fact and not in the moments where decisiveness counts
- I have a strong sense of club pride that has been passed down to me from my own Sempai and while I hope to pass some of that on to the junior students, I'm now more conscious than ever of its impact on the energy of practice and the dynamics in the dojo
- I have had no new joint injuries over the past two years since my last rank and am convinced that this is due to resistance training and conditioning with weights
- The nutritional choices I've made for before and during seminars have had great results as far as energy levels are concerned
- Kettlebell exercises for conditioning have a direct application to Aikido
- Irimi is SO last rank ;-) - seriously though, I'd like to think I haven't been relying so much on this lately - I think it's been due to a state of mind more than anything else
- It's amazing what a few little circles can do.
- Everything I've been reading about conditioning really is true --- muscle memory relies upon repetition, so plenty of practice is the key.
- The more and more I do Aikido, the more and more I love how it feels
- Challenges excite me. More often than not, I find myself thriving rather than stressing out under pressure. Go figure.
- Apparently, I'm "The Irimi Queen"...that has a certain ring to it I kind of like! :-D
- It's been almost four months now since I started that strength and conditioning program and have already seen gains in core strength, wrist flexibility/injury rehabilitation and overall muscle strength. I have no doubt that the former will help add power to my technique and that the latter will greatly help prevent future injury.
- The backwards, heels-over-head breakfall out of what I like to call the "Hail Mary Throw" (because I make the sign of the cross before going over) is hella fun!
- The power of prayer. That with faith, one can achieve anything.
- That I have been greatly blessed, both on and off the mat, and that I never want to take it for granted.
- If I believe I can do it, I can.
- "I've learned that if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard --- because if it isn't there, then I never really lost it to begin with." --- wise words from Dorothy Gale, "The Wizard of Oz"
- Although having the opportunity to instruct others a little over the past year has been quite valuable (insofar as learning and developing different ways of explaining things), I am far more interested in training. I've heard enough from senior practitioners who have expressed dissatisfaction at their own development, which would often take the backburner to teaching others and certainly don't look forward to this happening to me.
- Some of the most valuable lessons I've been learning have been as Uke --- I've grown more sensitive to how good technique on the part of Nage effects my centre through adequate tension and have been taking pains to replicate it as much as possible.
- Learning technique has evolved for me from what was initially about form towards being more about feel --- my increasing self-dissatisfaction with how things feel as I move has driven me to seek a smoothness, flow and efficiency to what I'm doing. I've joked before (only half-facetiously) that the only real difference lies in that now I can discern exactly how badly I suck. This really isn't as bad as it sounds. I never want to get to the point where I feel that I've "arrived" somehow --- I constantly want to keep growing and pushing myself and my own self-conceived limits towards excellence and self-mastery. Only time will tell as to how successful this will be.
- To listen to my body. That if a technique feels awkward or I feel even slightly off balance, I'm doing something incorrectly and need to make an adjustment.
- To have faith in myself. I can get carried away by feelings of self-doubt, and I keep forgetting that inherently, my body knows how to move (as alluded to above) and what to do if I just listen to it.
- To breathe. I mean, really breathe --- to pay attention to my breathing, which is not only relaxing, but gets me completely centred and focused in the moment.
- That it's not about perfection --- it's about who and where I am right now. And that in itself is pretty darn awesome. I always keep looking back, thinking, "it could have been so much better" --- and really, it always could be. But you know what? It's a long haul, but it *will* only get better. (Thanks Carolynne!)"]
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