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Last night two new beginners, my friend Josh and another guy, joined us for the intro class. Orenaite, sumitoshi, koho tento undo, etc. It's really amazing to watch people on their very first day doing technique. I like the pace of Toyoda Sensei's intro classes because during the last fifteen minutes, they're really doing stuff they've never done before, and enjoying it the entire time. Pretty cool to watch them grow right before your eyes.
Over the weekend I'd heard that everyone had passed their kyu tests, but no scrolls were given out yet. There was a lot of whispering when we saw them on the tokonoma, but there they stayed throughout the intro class.
For the second class we did more yoko ukemi practice. I wasn't hurting much this morning when I woke up, which is my signal that I was doing SOMEthing right, whatever it may have been.
Ryotetori tenchinage, both the regular kihon waza and the tenkan versions were on the technique menu for that class. While being uke for the first one, the nage I was with insisted on really throwing me down into the yoko ukemi.
After being pounded twice, and asking to not be pounded again twice more, Sensei came over and told him that what he was actually doing was oyo waza, changing the technique. Apparently he was taught to really throw uke down at the end, instead of letting them bend back, and then falling in yoko ukemi.
Sensei mentioned that she was under the same impression, that there was a real throw at the end, but was only recently advised by a higher ranked yudansha about the difference. The true kihon waza, she said, was to allow uke to fall because of the lack of balance, not because they were thrown hard. With ryotetori tenchinage, the difference is very subtle, but uke either takes a scary fall, or an easier one.
I let it be said that I prefer the easier one. Several times. I'm comfortable being thrown forward or even backward into a roll, but not down. Soon maybe. Today, no.
The experience illustrated, even more that usual, how utterly vital it is to pay close attention to your uke. There are some sadistic folks who don't mind being hard on the mats, as either uke or nage, and will gladly take fall after painful fall to try and prove something, but not me. I'm not the kind of person who will knowingly inflict pain on anyone. And I certainly don't want that to happen when I'm uke.
I'm not saying that controlling someone in nikkyo or kotegaeshi doesn't come with a bit amount of pain. It certainly does. But when you see your uke get up off the mat with that look, the one that says "And you're really going to do that to me again?" Do something about it.
Pay attention. Really close attention. That was the lesson learned.
We didn't have a third class. Matt and I were the only students left, so Sensei decided we should clean the dojo. We swept, we vacuumed, we wiped things down, and we dusted. We had a very limited time but made a difference with what we did. Someday soon, all the walls, the ceiling, the fans, and the windows need done. And the mats. A white mat should be white...