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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 10:53 PM
jducusin
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One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 272 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 271,255

In General For Love of the Dance... Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #231 New 08-02-2007 04:10 PM
Last Saturday marked my fourth public demonstration of randori so far. In some ways, it feels the same and yet quite different: I'm no longer nervous like I was the very first time; I've done the same movements enough times over that it feels like second nature --- at least the sabaki/strategy of it feels like I could do it in my sleep. Yet I've found myself, in retrospect, with a greater awareness of my body: a better sense of when things flow right and when they feel forced. Thankfully, it is a moving chess match --- dynamic, not static --- such that one can adapt one's sabaki on the fly in order to put yourself in a position to better "complete the circle"/blend and flow. Still, I would say that only 25% of the time, it's good flow --- the other 75% of the time it feels contrived. Let me tell you, though, that scant 25% always feels divine, effortless. Truly, it's like you're dancing on air --- as for the other 75%: there's always tomorrow, and the mats will always be there welcoming more practice. Or so we hope.

My one saving grace of course is that the audience never seems to notice that which I so very obviously feel in my movement. Sensei asked me afterwards how I feel after hearing so much praise for my performance at the demo. Honestly? I said --- it doesn't matter. They see just a few minutes, a mere snapshot of me --- the seemingly finely-honed end result of what ultimately becomes years of training, innumerable bruises, injuries, blood, sweat and tears. They see an image, an illusion. They've never seen and will never see the most glorious moments that truly define who I am as a martial artist --- the not-so-graceful moments of countless mistakes; the painful moments where I have to dig deep and muster as much inner strength as I can to continue training day after day --- day after day and on days when I just don't feel like it, days when I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere at all. Only I see that. Only I know when I've given 100%, and when I do I can feel it. Let me tell you, that euphoric feeling that comes when you know you haven't held anything back is worth more than all the applause in the world. It's your own heart applauding you. It's my own integrity saying, "that's my girl!"

And in that respect, I feel most satisfied with my ukemi at the demonstration more than anything else. I didn't hold back. I gave it my all. And it felt damn good. Effortless. Weightless. And above all, my attacks were martial. Sensei said it was the best ukemi he's ever felt from me, and I believe it. It sure felt that way.

Sensei knows how much I've been kicking myself lately --- feeling like I've reached a plateau, like I haven't been getting anywhere in spite of how much I've been training. I want to be faster, I want to be more powerful, I want to be a lot of things that I know I'm not. Last Saturday showed me a reflection of myself that defeats all that self-deprecating nonsense. It defeated my ego and replaced it with pure joy. Joy of the dance, a pure enjoyment of the movement. Joy in the realization that if I can show other women, just like I did on Saturday, another example of a woman succeeding at the martial arts and inspire them to raise the bar and push themselves further, that's all I need to feel success.

To all you other flying aikidoka out there:
Enjoy this moment. Savour the feeling of weightlessness as you soar through the air. Go into your ukemi (and your training) with reckless abandon, without fear and without regret. Who knows what life may bring you in the future --- just enjoy it and train hard while you can.
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