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I am observing classes for another few weeks. My shoulder is feeling quite good now (yay!). I just need to let it heal completely, and strengthen/stabilize the joint to help prevent future injuries. So I'm still benched, and doing what my PT says I must. It's easy to see now that it will be fine before long.
The class tonight was taught by one of the yudansha, as Sensei is out of town for the week. There was a lot of the same patient instruction, with complex techniques being built step-by-step of their component parts. And like Sensei, and the other teachers I've seen, this teacher has a mischievous and kind sense of humor. A few parts of the class were different from what I've seen before...
There was some jo work (which I had not seen yet at all). They went through a couple of techniques, and then did some interesting exercises in avoiding a very slow-moving jo by just changing body position (keeping feet mostly still). Imagine if the TSA were waving a metal-detecting wand all over you, but you were afraid it would tickle if it were to touch you (my visualization, not the instruction to the class).
Then there were some techniques that a 1st or 2nd kyu had requested, since she will be tested on them soon. The class started from very slow walk-throughs, and ended with very competent, quite fast techniques. I'm sure I won't remember how to do them, but I saw individual parts (certain movements and postures) that I can work on at home.
At the end of the class they played several games, including a kind of keep-away to build rondori skills (moving around the mat with attackers in pursuit) without being concerned with actual attacks or techniques.
One would think I'd be used to it by now, but it still surprises (and delights) me to see the amount of play and fun and laughter that surrounds Aikido. There are serious aspects, of course, but everyone generally comes away feeling happy and confident, and having improved their skills.
Looking forward to getting back at it.
p.s. Aikido involves a lot of training of one's spell checker. Mine just tried to correct "yudansha" to "unshapely", and "kyu" to "yucky".