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Thursday was another great day of training. The yudansha who taught class was told that a test was coming up in early November for both 5th kyu and 1st kyu incase he wanted to focus on those techniques. There were two 6th kyu, two 2nd kyu and two yudansha. The other 6th kyu is fairly new and will not be testing this time around. After our warm ups Sempai called me up and used me as uke to demonstrate katadori ikkyo (omote and ura). While we were working on that, he went over and looked at the list. From that moment on, all he did was call the names of the techniques. This was a good practice to see how well I knew the terminology. I am proud to say that I knew every single one! A list of the techniques that we did:
The only technique that I couldn't really remember was gyaku hanmi katatedori iriminage. I knew how to start and I knew how I needed to end up, I just couldn't figure out how to get there. After trying to figure it out for a bit (I kept getting into the position for kokyuho instead….), the sempai who was teaching took pity on me and showed me how to get there. The light bulb went off in my head. I think I have only done this technique on one occasion. I have done it several times from ai hanmi though. The two yudansha split up and each one watched a pair of students and offered tips and suggestions as necessary. The tips that were offered to me were quite helpful and I hope I can remember them!
By the end of class my energy was spent. I have previously mentioned that I have been battling exhaustion for some reason. Well, this was quite a workout. No rest for the weary. We were not allowed to stop or take breaks and we had to keep doing the technique (taking turns being nage four times, uke four times) until sempai clapped and called out another technique. I guess the only "break" we had was when he told us to change partners. Despite the fact I was tired, I didn't really feel like I was going to collapse from exhaustion. It was almost like a good tired. A "I know I pushed myself and I came through" kind of tired.
At the end of class after we all bowed out, I asked the sempai who taught if all of those techniques were on the 5th kyu test, to which he said yes. I don't believe all of them are on there, but I better practice them all anyway incase the list has been changed and I am not aware of it. I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I didn't feel like I did too bad. I was told that 5th kyu tests are easy to pass as long as you have the concept down…..
Sensei came down and taught the second hour of aikido. He had us grab shinai (which made me happen because if you know by now I am not best friends with the jo… haha). He had us partner up and work on a few partnered forms. This time I did a lot better with them because I had done them before. By better, I don't mean quality, I mean remembering the order. Last time, I frustrated the yudansha that I was working with… Sensei (as well as the yudansha I worked with) was very helpful and gave me plenty of suggestions. Sensei even laughed at me a few times. Now, this doesn't bother me one bit. It is a sincere laugh and usually I am laughing at myself once he shows me what I look like. At one point I was working with one of the yudansha and the starting attack was for me to attack shomen. I raised my shinai and began to cut, but he didn't move out of the way. I stopped my cut just short of bonking him on the head. I am not sure why he didn't move, as he lowered his sword which meant he was offering for me to attack. The best I can think is that he wanted to see if I was sliding in range to attack and that I was indeed striking shomen and not off the center line so I wouldn't hit him.
At the end of class, sensei called "Ashley" I turned towards him, "Hai?" He looks at me "Do you know how to fold a hakama?" Now, he knows that I can because I have to fold my hakama after every iaido class. I responded as honestly as I could "I can fold it Sensei. The question is how well can I fold it." He smiled and told me that his would not fold too easily. He then took off his hakama and handed it to me and then walked away, leaving me to my work. In fact, I was left in the dojo all alone. First off, his hakama is quite big, has really long himo and it is an indigo cottom hakama (so it isn't really user friendly like mine). I did my best (his hakama had like NO pleats to go on) so I did my best to find the faint lines that I knew were there (he just hangs his after class like all the other yudansha - but since he is going to a seminar this weekend, he needs it folded). After I carefully folded the hakama and tied the himo I turned off all the lights and locked up the dojo. Sensei was downstairs waiting for me. I gave him his hakama and told him I would completely understand if he needed it folded again. He looked at it, looked at me and told me it was fine. He then turned and walked into his private room. I was convinced that he was in there, redoing my shoddy work. To my surprise, he was back out within seconds. So, either I did a good enough job or he will redo it later when I am not around.... I went and changed and then as I was about to leave, I yelled to sensei (he was in his private room once more) "Have a great time at the seminar!" He opened his door and reminded me that there was no iaido this weekend and asked me to hold down the fort while he was away. I smiled and said the only thing I could "I can try sensei."
Things to remember:
1.) For gyaku hanmi shihonage, turn palm out to side to turn uke's elbow before you step in or around
2.) Use your hips more in ikkyo (I just couldn't replicate that marvelous feeling I had the other day)
3.) For kaitenage, make it smoother, like one motion; instead of making it step by step
4.) When received ukemi for kokyuho, don't be afraid to take your forward foot and step back so you don't trip over nage's leg as much
5.) Grab low on the wrist for shihonage (I have a tendency to grab a little bit too high)
6.) Don't straighten your leg after you touch the mat and come up with weight on the back leg during kaitenage (nasty little habit I have)