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Yes, I'm still very much still doing Aikido, I have just been lazy about updating the journal here. I think I am enjoying Aikido now more than I have at any point since I began. I still don't feel like I'm particularly good at it, but I have noticed improvements, and I don't really expect to feel proficient for many years. Just doing Aikido is enough to keep me motivated and interested.
Some interesting things since the last time I updated:
I actually got to be uke for sensei for a demonstration for the first time ever a month and half ago or so when the class was basically just beginners. It wasn't a big huge deal, but still a first. Sensei is always picking any of us at random during class and using us for uke. It's always fun and sometimes scary. He did a shihonage on me that actually lifted me off the ground at the point where my hand went past my shoulder. That was interesting...
We are having a very important visitor lead a seminar in our dojo in March, so Sensei has been sprucing up the dojo. He bought all new mats and we worked hard last weekend getting everything set up for them. They are much harder than the old ones and everyone was afraid that doing ukemi would really suck, but now that I've worked on them for a week, they're not so bad. Just as Sensei said, I feel much more sure-footed on them which should go a long way towards saving my ankles. These mats don't fold, so there's no holes in the mats where they meet They also make the dojo look a lot more professional and serious.
I'm still wearing my brace, though I'm pretty sure I don't need to. I did go to one class without the brace and didn't feel like I needed it at all. However, we're supposed to test soon, and I want to do all that I can do to make sure I'll be ready for the test. It is probably silly, but the mental crutch helps a lot.
Last week, I got my first really good breakfall workout. I was thrown about 5 or 6 times. I was scared, but I just decided to go for it. It was the closest thing to instantaneous that I've experienced anywhere, not just Aikido. One second I was standing up, my arms twisted with juji-nage, then next I was on the mat on my side. No pain, not really much sense of impact. Just up, then DOWN! On the last throw, though, nage lost his grip and I landed poorly on my shoulder. My neck still hurts a bit from that, but it wasn't horrible.
I can't think of much else new or exciting. I feel pretty comfortable now with my front ukemi, though I think I'll continue trying to get it better. I make it all the way around without horribly embarassing myself, but I'd like to be more graceful. I'm slowly beginning to learn to do my Aikido without so much force. It's much more interesting to throw someone without muscling through it. One of my sempai said his sensei said something like, "Do the Aikido that is invisible." I'm probably going to spend the rest of my life trying to perfect that.