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Training has been going well as of lately. It seems like sensei is busy getting several people ready for testing. I'm sure someone will be testing for 5th kyu soon, there are about four of us who may be testing for 4th kyu soon and he is busy getting someone else ready for 1st kyu. For a while we were doing nothing but advanced techniques. Tons of stuff that was way over my head and haven't done. I was working on hanmi handachi and kata-shomen attacks. It was fun to work on these things because I felt absolutely no pressure. However, for the past week, things have been dropped back from fourth gear to first gear. What a joy it has been. Sometimes it is so nice to slow down and be able to work on something more familiar.
Last week was a lovely week of the return to the familiar or at least techniques that are more in my range. Sensei has put a strong emphasis on nikyo and sankyo lately. We worked on them from suwariwaza with attacks from: katadori, shomenuchi, yokomenuchi and kata-shomen. We also worked on them from hanmi handachi as well. Then we finally worked on the two techniques standing. It was a nice blend of training based for us about to test for 4th kyu but also helped the guy about to test for 1st kyu. Obviously, hanmi handachi and kata-shomen attacks aren't on a 4th kyu test.
There was also an entire class based on kokyuho. We worked on it from katadori (ai and gyaku), shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, ryotedori and morotedori. It was nice to work on the one technique and be able to see the similarities between all the attacks. The main thing that I need to work on with this technique is making it more three dimensional. I have a tendency to keep flat as I do the technique instead of having this lovely rising and falling appearance. I know what I am supposed to do and I know how it is supposed to feel, but I just haven't been able to make it muscle memory yet. It comes and goes. I was told during the class that I am too nice. He told me that I actually had to punch with some intent to uke's face and that uke would move. Okay, so the next time I did it, I punched (not terribly hard, but with intent). Uke did not move… and I punched him. Uhm.... this is not helping me. I don't want to hit someone and him not moving isn't helping me get over my not wanting to hit someone fear. When they say things like that to me, it always makes me stop and think. I used to be an aggressive person. I went from that to miss passive. What happened?
Saturday sensei had us work on some ikkyo, shihonage, kotegaeshi, iriminage and he emphasized the importance of kokyu and had us work on building it by doing hand exercises while standing, as well as working on it from suwariwaza kokyuho. At one point, he had me sit in seiza in front of him. He had me put the blade of my hand and my forearms on his chest and told me to push. I pushed and pushed and he would lean in and knock me over. Finally, it occurred to me that I needed to sink into my hips. As soon as I did that, I could easily push him over. He told me that sinking into the hips and having the pressure go through my spine into the floor was the secret for suwariwaza ryotedori kokyuho, as well as lots of other techniques. For quite some time, sensei had us work on suwariwaza kokyuho with each other. I'm still missing something along the way, but I'm sure I will figure it out in time.
Another change in the dojo is the addition of the penny jar. After a bunch of "I'm sorry" statements in the dojo, sensei has decided that we are going to have to get this out of our system. Every time someone says "I'm sorry." a penny must be put in the jar. Even if an "I'm sorry" is truly warranted, a penny will be put in the jar. Sensei implemented this penny jar on Thursday. I added two pennies that day and on Saturday I had to add two more pennies. At one point in class on Saturday I said "I'm sorry." and when I realized it, I said "Darn it… I owe a penny." Sensei heard me and said if that I say that too many times after I am sorry, I am going to have to put a nickel in the jar along with a penny. After class I asked sensei if I could go up into the dojo to add my pennies. He asked me how many I had to put in and I told him two. Sensei was surprised to learn that we have put in about the same amount of pennies. So far, sensei and I are the only two putting pennies in the jar, but I am sure more people will add over time as well. My husband will definitely be adding pennies to the jar because he says it all the time as well. In fact, I am proud that I have only added four pennies. I almost said it to sensei when he was using me to demonstrate something (he was uke). I knocked him down and as I moved in, my knee and his elbow somehow banged together. As I opened my mouth to apologize, I realized my error and shut my mouth. Instead, sensei apologized to me. We just simply smiled at each other as he admonished himself and said he'd have to add a penny to the jar.
After class, we all stood downstairs and chatted for a bit. Our after training chit chat sessions are always one of the best things about Saturday training. It is during these sessions that I often get to hear Chiba sensei stories, talk about training, reminiscing about the past, talking about sake and beer, t-shirts and any other topic that happens to pop into our heads. It is strange how a bunch of random strangers have grown into something that is more like a family. Sensei brought up that one of the female yudansha that used to train has been talking about coming back, but hasn't come yet. I told him that I wouldn't know what to do if I had to share the dressing room (as I'm accustomed to having it ALL to myself). For some reason, female students are few and far between at our dojo. There were a few girls when I started and a few joined after me, but I'm the only one left (on a regular basis- one lives in CA and one is in college). I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing, but I can say that I love my dojo and I love training with the guys. I don't mind that I'm the only female working on the mat!