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My return to the dojo after an 8 year leave of absence started 2 weeks and 8 training sessions ago. Feels like it has been much longer than that already. I feel incredible both mentally and physically, but being gone for so long will be a lifelong regret for the main reason that Sensei is visibly struggling with his physical participation in class. He is 80 years old at this point and can no longer do what he could when I initially began my aikido journey 10 years ago. It is my goal to get as much one-on-one with him as possible going forward.
That said, everything is coming back to me to the point that it feels as though I never left. Muscle memory is an incredible thing as rolling, breakfalling, and shikko are back in full force. My scoliosis is not acting up (yet), but I remain conscious to take 5 and stretch about 15 minutes before class ends otherwise chances are I will not do so before getting in the car or when I get home. I have been taking some NSAIDs before class but perhaps I should take them after so that I do not ignore pain and overdue it. Had been thinking about training in a second art on the side, but I think I will stick to cross-training in the form of running and general cardio right now.
When I first returned both Sensei and a Yondan asked me what level I left off at before which in our system is 6th kyu (orange belt). He stated that Sensei would probably want me to come back at the same level. Originally, I was not going to say anything and just allow Sensei to approach me with the thought, but I decided to discuss it with Sensei. He said he feels I am not ready yet. Perhaps I shouldn't have asked. I definitely don't want to give the impression that I know more than I know, but I also don't want 1 1/2 years of previous training to 'go to waste' if there is such a thing.