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Arms up and out in an effort to maintain the extension in my uke's body, my eyes followed Sensei's foot as he planted it firmly in a spot off to my left and in front of me. "Now, put your right foot where mine is," he said, showing me the footwork of shihonage. It seemed a long way to step, but I discovered that it was necessary to continue extending my partner and effectively drop him. "In aikido, we look for openings," Sensei said, showing me the opening I was supposed to create for myself under uke's arms before stepping through. Even though I still struggle with the techniques, these important details have become easier for me to spot; I am becoming more aware of footwork, openings, and connections, of extensions and of torquing for tightness, when to hang on and when to let go.
I was struggling with the footwork of how to "chase" my opponent in kickboxing. It seemed counter-intuitive after my aikido training to slide back and off to the side with my back foot, maintaining the tight-circle connection, when I've been training myself to step with the forward side. In the only dance that he'd do with me, my boyfriend (who's also my training coach) came up behind me, glued his limbs and body to mine, and guided me into the correct steps. Slide-turn-jab; slide-turn-jab--we went in circles around the living room, and I tried to commit the movements of this still-unfamiliar art into my muscle memory.
There are those popular shows on television now: "Dancing With the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" to name a couple. Tons of movies: Take the Lead and Save the Last Dance, stemming from an older generation of Footloose and Dirty Dancing. All good entertainment, and yes, something I wish I could do. But I dance, too--in a different way. Putting one foot in front of the other, memorizing where each goes for various techniques, I study the movements of my body to a different beat, in tune with the music of my heart.