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Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > AikiWeb AikiBlogs > Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai

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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 11:53 PM
One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 270 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 817,775

In Training The Heat is On Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #236 New 09-16-2008 11:16 PM
Without a doubt, training for 1st kyu has been the most frustrating, challenging experience of my Aikido life thus far.

It used to be that I was simply pissed off at certain techniques. Those of you who have followed this blog from its tadpole-ish beginnings (before I even turned 5th kyu) will remember well. Koshinage was once the bane of my existence. Then came along Aiki Otoshi. In essence, anything that involved me having to heft and --- for more than a nanosecond --- support the weight of anyone more than my size (which is pretty much everyone) was...let's just say: not pleasant.

But bygones are bygones. Now I have a new nemesis. There is a huge elephant in the room. His name is Ikkyu and he wears a brown belt. Where to begin?

We can start with the fact that when all is said and done --- counting numerous variations of: standing techniques, kneeling techniques, knife-taking techniques, sword-taking techniques, staff-taking techniques, combination/adapted techniques and reversal techniques --- Jeremy and I will have to know and perform well over 200 different SANITY-TAKING techniques. The object is "to be able to apply and variate techniques" after all. And at the very end of it: Jiyu Waza, multiple attackers. But then, to me, that's the fun part.

Not surprisingly, this is the very same test that we will have to perform later for Shodan/black belt. With two vital differences. For Shodan, it will all have to be "shinier" --- more polished, smooth and powerful than before. And for the punchline...Shodan will more than likely be a much shorter test. That is, they won't ask you to perform everything. Rarely does this happen for Shodan, I am told. For Ikkyu, however, they usually ask for E-VER-Y-THING.

So we're in for the long haul. One that will probably last for oh, well over an hour or so. But I digress.

How does one even begin to prepare for something of this magnitude, you might well ask? Uh, badly...at least to start off with. It all began with the best of intentions, I can tell you. Jeremy and I were running through blocks of techniques and our approach seemed to be going smoothly. The only problem was...us. Perfectionists, to be more specific. Damn perfectionists; that's what we are. To our own detriment sometimes, I'm afraid.

So can you guess what happened? We'd work on a technique. Being the introspective, detail-oriented and anal-retentive students that we are, we would break down each technique to as many of its finer points as we could. Each step of the way, self-analyzing and correcting (or attempting to correct) every nuance that felt even the slightest bit off. In our never-ending search to uncover the very best technique we could possibly perform, even Sensei got carried away --- watching us study the subtler points, he reciprocated by offering even more fine-tuning suggestions for correction until...we were embroiled in a seemingly-unending study of just one version of one technique that would last all class.

Suffice it to say, it eventually started feeling like we were getting nowhere. At the end of class I felt like I was left with a dishearteningly ever-increasing list of techniques that I needed to perfect, each with its own fast-growing list of finer details that I had yet to learn to observe in practice and make second-nature to my movement. It felt like 200+ techniques was a longer and longer way away.

It wasn't until just recently, after a discussion with Sensei in which I articulated these observations, that we decided to try a different training approach entirely. Ikkyu, after all, is primarily about showing how many variations of techniques you have memorized and that you have the ability to call upon them on demand. The fundamental principles of good form and technique are already strongly embedded in our movement, Sensei feels; most of the fine-tuning can wait until after Ikkyu in preparation for Shodan when it's more appropriate. All along, we had been approaching training for Ikkyu the way we would training for Shodan and it has simply not been necessary.

So last week, after discussing things in turn with Jeremy, he and I started running through the test in blocks of related techniques and their variations. We began with Koshinage: 5 techniques, for example. Slam, bang! Rinse and repeat. It was the highest-energy Ikkyu training session we'd had in a very long time. Naturally, it being Koshinage (high breakfalling required all the time), we came out of it the next day quite sore. But it was a satisfying feeling --- to be able to run through a set of techniques without criticism, from self or otherwise; even just to have your body go through the motions, memorizing how they feel and what you do did wonders for one's confidence. I personally came out of it feeling quite accomplished. Like if we kept things up at this pace, we would tame this Ikkyu beast soon enough.
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