07/08/06 - Nikyu: A Retrospective
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07/08/06 - Nikyu: A Retrospective
07-10-2006 10:25 AM
Well, it's over. I'm so proud of the new 5th kyus --- they really pulled it together in the end and did great! Garry tested for Sankyu on Thursday so that he could attend a reunion in Souris over the weekend and did well --- that was a long time coming (he originally should have tested for 3rd kyu back when I did). So that made me Ken's uke for his Sankyu test, which felt great --- he did very well and put a nice lot of "pepper" into his techniques; I'm glad he didn't seem to hold back on me too much despite my re-injuring my wrist on Friday (I made a point of stretching it a lot during the other tests to warm it up, so it was just fine).
Taking ukemi for Ken's test was just the challenge I needed to up the ante on my own test right afterwards. There's a very gratifying feeling about being able to focus and perform well when you're nearly exhausted. :-D Suffice it to say, I "nailed" it --- or so I've been told. Just being able to do the whole test from start to finish felt great. I love the freeing feeling you get from being able to do technique just as you want to with the whole mat space to yourself. I really have fun doing it...though if you were to ask people, they might wonder (as I've been told that I have a pretty scary, serious "game face")! :-P
It's finally (just now) sinking in that I'm actually Nikyu. Time seems to have flown by so quickly. To think, just another year or so to Ikkyu and as Sensei would say, "a hop, skip and a jump to Shodan." Just bring it. ;-)
Nikyu - A retrospective
Things learned since Sankyu...
About movement and the art:
- It's amazing what a few little circles can do.
- Everything I've been reading about conditioning really is true --- muscle memory relies upon repetition, so plenty of practice is the key.
- The more and more I do Aikido, the more and more I love how it feels.
- Challenges excite me. More often than not, I find myself thriving rather than stressing out under pressure. Go figure.
- Apparently, I'm "The Irimi Queen"...that has a certain ring to it I kind of like! :-D
- It's been almost four months now since I started that strength and conditioning program and have already seen gains in core strength, wrist flexibility/injury rehabilitation and overall muscle strength. I have no doubt that the former will help add power to my technique and that the latter will greatly help prevent future injury.
- The backwards, heels-over-head breakfall out of what I like to call the "Hail Mary Throw" (because I make the sign of the cross before going over) is hella fun!
Though I've noticed some improvement in the first three over the past seven months, I'm still continuing to work on improving in the coming year:
- building greater core strength
- strengthening my grip
- making my ushiro ukemi consistently rounder and faster
- making my dive rolls both higher and longer
- increasing the speed and power of my weapons work
I also am looking forward to:
- trying to master what I call "The John Ellison Special" (a.k.a. the clothesline breakfall out of a hard Iriminage that only J.E. could do well) --- we don't practice it enough!
- increasing my unilateral balance (especially on my weak ankle's side) as per one physiotherapist's suggestion
- planning out a solid training plan for reaching Ikkyu and beyond within the next couple of years --- time to implement all those conditioning strategies I've been reading about!
So what have I learned so far?
- The power of prayer. That with faith, one can acheive anything.
- That I have been greatly blessed, both on and off the mat, and that I never want to take it for granted.
- If I believe I can do it, I can.
- "I've learned that if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard --- because if it isn't there, then I never really lost it to begin with." --- wise words from Dorothy Gale, "The Wizard of Oz"
- Although having the opportunity to instruct others a little over the past year has been quite valuable (insofar as learning and developing different ways of explaining things), I am far more interested in training. I've heard enough from senior practitioners who have expressed disatisfaction at their own development, which would often take the backburner to teaching others and certainly don't look forward to this happening to me.
- Some of the most valuable lessons I've been learning have been as Uke --- I've grown more sensitive to how good technique on the part of Nage effects my centre through adequate tension and have been taking pains to replicate it as much as possible.
- Learning technique has evolved for me from what was initially about form towards being more about feel --- my increasing self-dissatisfaction with how things feel as I move has driven me to seek a smoothness, flow and efficiency to what I'm doing. I've joked before (only half-facetiously) that the only real difference lies in that now I can discern exactly how badly I suck. This really isn't as bad as it sounds. I never want to get to the point where I feel that I've "arrived" somehow --- I constantly want to keep growing and pushing myself and my own self-conceived limits towards excellence and self-mastery. Only time will tell as to how successful this will be.
- To listen to my body. That if a technique feels awkward or I feel even slightly off balance, I'm doing something incorrectly and need to make an adjustment.
- To have faith in myself. I can get carried away by feelings of self-doubt, and I keep forgetting that inherently, my body knows how to move (as alluded to above) and what to do if I just listen to it.
- To breathe. I mean, really breathe --- to pay attention to my breathing, which is not only relaxing, but gets me completely centred and focused in the moment.
- That it's not about perfection --- it's about who and where I am right now. And that in itself is pretty darn awesome. I always keep looking back, thinking, "it could have been so much better" --- and really, it always could be. But you know what? It's a long haul, but it *will* only get better. (Thanks Carolynne!)"]
Stats/Little Milestones as of 07/08/06 (* - denotes change since last tally at Sankyu):
Training w/current dojo since - January 8, 2003
*Number of classes attended - 771
Number of days extra training on the weekend - 9+? [N/A as of 2006 (Saturday morning classes implemented)]
*Number of seminars attended - 6
Number of other dojos visited while travelling - 6
Number of classes at other dojos as visitor - 6
*Total number of hours training - approx. 1433.5
*Number of journal entries - 195
Number of hours of remedial massage - 6.5
*Number of visits to the physiotherapist - 8
Number of neoprene/Tensor joint braces accumulated - 6
Number of weapons broken - 1
Number of times I've been hit on the head by a weapon - 2
Number of fat, bloody lips (received from Sensei's atemi) - 4
*Total number of joint sprains/other injuries (ankles, big toe, wrist, thumbs, etc.) - 13
Number of bloody noses - 1.0
Number of huge, freaky bruises accumulated - innumerable
Number of times my massive Yonkyo bruises freaked someone out - 2
*Number of times large clumps of hair have been accidentally wrenched out of my ponytail by Nage - 3
*Number of rolls of athletic tape consumed - 4.5
Number of Salonpas patches consumed - 13
*Number of pounds of Epsom Salts used to soak in hot baths - 6.5
*Number of patches sewn and other repairs to dogi - 9
*Number of dogi retired due to becoming worn and ripped beyond repair - 1
Number of Kohai gained - I've stopped counting...too many people come and go.
Number of other females who joined the dojo briefly and left - 4 *sniff* :0(
Number of other females who joined the dojo and have stayed - 1 (Lisa...yup, she's still here, now takes great ukemi and just got her Gokyu on the same day!) *yay!* :-D
Largest number of simultaneous Randori attackers successfully faced - 5 (!) *does a little happy dance*
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