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Let's go back to the 5th, which was a Saturday. Sensei decided that the theme for this class would be yokomenuchi. For an hour and a half, everything we did began with a yokomenuchi attack. We did all sorts of techniques: ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, yonkyo, gokyo, shihonage, kotegaeshi, kokyuho, as well as a few techniques that don't have a name. No surprise, but I realized that my nikyo and sankyo need some work. Actually, no need to be modest, it needs a LOT of work! I figure that will come with time though. We also did some techniques using the tanto. We did ikkyo and gokyo from a yokomenuchi attack and we did some basic evasion (irimi) and kotegaeshi from tsuki. All in all, I found it to be an enjoyable class. A bit challenging at times, but it went well. I guess that is something I should get used to. It seems Saturday's is more of an advanced class and I am one of the few beginners that come on a regular basis.
Tuesday's class went well. We had three beginners. Each of them has only attended a few classes. Sensei made it a really laid back class. We worked on ukemi, irimi, tenkan, irimi-tenkan, tai no henko (3 variations), gyaku hanmi kokyuho and maybe something else. At one point I was working with the new girl (We'll call her Anna). She seemed a bit frustrated. I did my best to help her by leading her hand and such. I have no problem working with beginners. This is my second time around as a beginner in martial arts, so I guess I can really empathize with them. After class I was talking to her and she told me she was frustrated because she is confused all the time. I smiled and told her that unfortunately, that comes with being a beginner in aikido. I told her that I have been in class for 9 months now and I still feel hopelessly lost at times. I then told her that there are days that I leave the dojo very frustrated with myself. That seemed to put her at ease a little bit. I told her to stick with it and that slowly, but surely, it would get a little easier. As my husband and I were walking up to the dojo for Tai Chi, sensei stopped Anna and told her not to be so frustrated with herself. Anna said that she would try to stick with it and that she would give it more time. I asked her if she would be in class on Thursday (the other beginner night) and she said yes, but she didn't show up (Anna never did return to the dojo).
Wednesday's class was frustrating. Sensei's wife used to teach the intro to weapons class, but now they have another yudansha teaching. I really like this guy, but tonight he was very strict (which I don't mind by the way). We were working with the jo and doing some basic responses. Well he kept telling us we were too close to each other. Each time, I made sure that I was not in range of my partners jo, but he still said I was too close. So, each time I continued to move further away from my partner. It got to the point that after I blocked, when I slid down the jo, I could no longer hit their hands. He then told me that I had to hit the hands. Needless to say, I was getting very frustrated. Anyway, by the time class was over, I was glad. I know that isn't necessarily a good thing, but everyone has one of those days right?
Second hour was me, my husband, sensei, a yudansha and another student who has been there a little over a year. Sensei had us get bokkens and we were working on a few things. Well, at one point, I was working with sensei. Both people were attacking shomen, except one person would turn slightly offline and then "finish" the other person. Well, sensei had just told me to use control and to ensure that my arm stayed straight when WHAM! All the sudden, the top of my head hurt as if I had been hit in the head with something hard and solid. Wait…. I was hit in the head with something hard and solid. I just got cracked upside the head with sensei's heavy bokken! I tried to be nice about it and play it off, but it really hurt! It brought tears to my eyes! Sensei placed his hand on my head where he hit it and said "I haven't done that in a while." I again told him I was fine. We went back to practicing. The rest of the class went pretty uneventful. I did have a tender head though that night and the next day.
Thursday was another laid back class. It was me, my husband, the guy who's been there for a little over a year and two beginners. We worked on tai no henko, morotedori kokyuho, morotedori nikyo and I think that is it. Anyway, class went pretty well. The only problem I had was working with the one new guy on tai no henko. He is a very strong guy and he likes to clench the life out of your wrists/forearm. Working with this guy is a blessing and a burden I guess. I really like working with him because I can't muscle my way through a technique. It is either proper form or I'm not going anywhere. Anyway, while working with him on tai no henko, it wasn't so much as a do the technique right as it was an "Ouch, my bones are bending!" thing. The sempai who was teaching kept iterating the importance of getting under nage's wrist, moving with nage to maintain contact and such, but none of this was really sinking in with him. It wasn't long before I was dreading my turn to do the technique. I mean, my arms were seriously hurting! I just kept hoping that the sempai would clap and we'd all line up for the next technique, but no such luck. The torture just kept going on…. and on….. and on! It did end eventually. Needless to say, the rest of the techniques hurt a bit because my arms were tender.
Second hour sensei had us get shinai's to work. Sensei said he wanted us to work on having relaxed hands, a sense of sticky swords, as well as moving and being light on our feet. I actually had a lot of fun in this class. There were four of us for this class, so it was nice having even numbers. I started to get a good feeling for being light with my hands. One of my favorite things we did was I would lower my sword to the right and the other person would come in to strike my wrists in a shomen-type cut. Before they got your wrist, you would slide back and lift your sword up so it's parallel to the floor. That would block the attack and then you slide it down the blade in a shomen-type cut and ended up cutting their wrist. I am much more comfortable working with the sword and I think it shows. I think I am just more relaxed and fluid with it. Doing iaido probably helps with that though. I'm guaranteed to work with the sword at least twice a week, where we don't always work with the jo.
Saturday I stayed home from class. We were having a potluck at the dojo later that night and I figured it would give me time to bake and do the other foods that I was bringing to the dojo. Turns out it was a good thing I skipped class because the roads were a sheet of ice. My husband had to be at work at 7 in the morning and he said he had to drive 18 mph the whole way because the roads were so bad. Anyway, the roads cleared up in time for the 6 p.m. potluck. It was a lot of fun. We had some good food: okonomiyaki (cabbage pancakes), chili, lasagna, chips & chicken dip, watergate salad, snickerdoodles, carrot cake, marrionberry pie and two types of beer. Everything was homemade except for the last three items on that list. It was great to sit in a circle on the floor and just socialize. I brought the chips & chicken dip, watergate salad and the snickerdoodles. At one point, I took snickerdoodles off the list and sensei got upset because he said I couldn't mention bringing snickerdoodles and then take it off the list. So, I ended up bringing them to make him happy. He made a point to say that the snickerdoodles were good. Actually, they were fairly popular because quite a few were eaten. I ended up going to sensei at the end of the potluck and asked him if he would like the smaller tin of cookies. He smiled and said "They would be eaten." I then handed over the tin for his eating pleasure.
Well, now we are all caught up. Sorry I have been slacking on my entries lately. Things are getting pretty hectic. Work is getting busier again and the holiday season seems to keep most people running around with their head chopped off. Hopefully, I will be able to write more frequently again soon.