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Worked on Two step versions of Ikkyo, and Irimi Nage, then tenchi Nage. It was a good class. Lots to learn. Including one of those; "If you think about it, you loose it" moments. Worked with a two of our newest members, and gained a lot of insight. The built in response to want to get farther away from what we perceive on some level as an attack is amazing. Working really slow with them it I could still see the difficulty they had in getting in close in Irimi Nage. It made me think of my own techniques, and to determine that to an extent I am probably doing some of the same still.
At the end of class I paired up with Rick, who has probably been the person that I have trained with most in my Aikido practice. It is amazing training with him because we have trained together so much, any subtle differences that appear, created or by chance are easy to feel. Ah that was different, what we you concentrating on there? What did you just change? Did that feel different to you? Most of the time in that moment we can share with each other the answers to these questions, and try the changes out ourselves.
Training with Rick is really good especially when I am working on new or deeper parts of the practice. We worked on one together today that was amazing. In Tenchi Nage, when I was Uke, there was a moment that I felt like I needed to protect myself from his heaven hand. This was deep, somewhere in the unconscious mind level protection. This resulted in several "hand battles" where my hand kept wanting to be on the inside. I told him that for some reason I was feeling like a baby harp seal in Canada. We laughed, but occasionally if I let my attention slip from keeping my hand on the outside, we would have a hand battle again, comments about harp seals, laughter, and keep training.
Sensei came over and demonstrated to Rick that his hands in the very beginning of the technique were not in a "vulnerable" seeming position, and that there was a energetic feeling of Rick being more on the attack than on reconciliation and flow. Then I got to be demonstration Uke with Sensei for Rick, and it was amazing!!! He placed his hands on his center, palms completely down, and wrist slightly up. They were really easy for me to grab, then ever so fluidly Sensei did the technique. His heaven hand ended up inside my heaven hand, but there was never any resistance, even though he was going substantially slower for some of the demonstrations than Rick and I were practicing at, there was never a moment where my body wanted to make sure that my hand was inside. I also never felt the energy of being attacked as I fell to the mat. Rick and I both started working on getting the idea of open energy, and a feeling of reconciliation into our offering of hands in the beginning. It was amazing how much more fluid my technique became. It was obvious that changing his more ingrained technique was a little harder for Rick, and he would slip in and out of the new offering style. It was great though, because we would both feel it instantly!
The thing that struck me most about the training today was that Sensei spoke to Rick and I about seeming vulnerable and allowing space for reconciliation, transformation, and surprise without damage. He and I have spoken about this a lot, it is one of the lessons that I am trying to get from my body to my heart, (or maybe it is my hara?). Each time Sensei tells me this, and explains it to me again, I get an ah haa moment out of it. Each time I have the same reaction to the same teaching, to never quite get it, each time it feels like a completely new concept to me. I was feeling rather like a moron about this in the period between bowing out and making a circle at the end of class. As we were making the circle it shocked me to realize that I was the third highest ranked person on the mat, which in our dojo means that you hold one of the two ends of the circle, either the one next to Sensei or the one opposite Sensei for the ending circle. As I knee walked over ½ way around the circle it occurred to me that my training is a lot like an onion, round and multi layered. I have to learn a lot of the same things over each time I peel a layer off, each time I relearn it at a different level inside of me it is a deeper understanding, closer each time to my center.
One of the goals of my practice is to alter the fabric of my inner most core. To respond to situations with openness and awareness. These I have learned are the two requirements for making the best out of any situation, from sitting quietly reading a book with a loved one, all the way through life threatening physical confrontations. It was only today that I understood that the PRACTICE of the art is what slowly changes the core, each of the multitude of lessons that Sensei and Aikido has to offer have levels, a level for each of the layers of ourselves. My hope is someday that I finally get to that central core, that I find a way to make peace with myself, and through that peace, peace with everyone and everything else.