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It has been forever since I last posted an entry to my blog. My lack of writing is not due to lack of training, it is probably more like lack of inspiration or just pure laziness. Lately, I've found that I am seeking a deeper understanding of my training and a blog simply stating "I did kotegaeshi today." just seems to barely scratch the surface. Since I am a scientist, I find analyzing things a natural task. Unfortunately, my analysis has not concluded any findings worth reporting (thus far).
Training is continuing like usual. I go to class, try my best and walk away still feeling like I haven't taken one step forward. I think I'm getting there, but I feel like I am still at the point where I am thinking about taking that next step, but haven't actually put those thoughts into action yet. Or maybe, it is more like my foot is hovering ever so slightly above the mat. Maybe I have taken that step forward, but I haven't committed to it or made that step final by putting my foot down. You can't really take a step forward if you aren't willing to make contact with the earth again. The lack of finality really has me questioning myself. Am I holding myself back and if so, what is it that I'm allowing to keep me where I am?
Every so often, someone mentions "You need to test." or "You are way overdue to test." Gah, I have heard that so many times it doesn't even affect me anymore. If sensei were to give me a date to test, sure, I would jump back into panic mode, but for now, they are just words. We have a visiting student from another dojo who insisted that I do a technique first. I knew he was a higher rank then me based on his movement, so I asked him to go first and stated that he was a higher ranker and thus he should go first. He inquired what rank I was, to which I responded that I was a 5th kyu. He then told me I needed to test. A visiting student from another dojo who has never trained here before just said I needed to test? There it was… the elephant in the room that I didn't want to acknowledge.
I now know what is making me so tentative. I once again am self conscious and am afraid of failure. A test date hasn't even been set, yet here I am holding this weight on my shoulders without even realizing it. I guess hearing "You need to test." over and over again for the past three or four months has taken its toll on me. My lack of confidence in a few techniques (nikyo and sankyo) has weighed me down to the point that I'm afraid that if I take the next step, I might just fall over... or worse yet, just crumple where I stand. This really only leaves me with a couple options: I can continue to stand where I am, and hope that I can shoulder the weight….. or I can just put my foot down and see what happens. I could put my faith in someone else's judgment and trust that they wouldn't set me up for failure. GULP.
Okay, now that I have decided to go with option number two…. now what? Well, one thing is obvious. I will continue to go to the dojo, try as hard as I can and I may walk away feeling befuddled. The difference is, I will walk into the dojo with no weight on my shoulders. I will rei towards the shomen with a feeling of tranquility. I will leave behind my self doubt and fear of what lies ahead. I will try not to be so judgmental of myself. Instead, I will have a strong sense of courage, perseverance and I will embrace progression with open arms (hopefully).
On a completely different note, I have started wearing contacts. Last Wednesday was my first day wearing them. Needless to say, they will take some getting used to! Each eye has a different type of lens and is by a different brand. My right eye has a toric lens in it, which constantly goes blurry. I am constantly blinking to get my focus back. I'm not sure if it is the type of lens or what, but it isn't very comfortable at all. I am constantly aware that something is in my eye. Meanwhile, my left eye feels perfectly fine and I don't even realize I have a contact in it.
My first class with them in was a weapons class with Marc. It was just the two of us, so I got a private session working on kumitachi. Yay! Every now and then, I would stop and back away because I could no longer see what I was doing. Marc would just chuckle at me while I tried in vain to blink my way to better clarity. When that class was over, Marc let sensei know that I was now wearing contacts and that I wasn't really used to them. I then told sensei that if he saw me blinking like a maniac, that was why. Sensei said that he would try not to poke me in the eye. It seemed like that night, the harder people tried not to poke me in the eye, the more I got hit in the face. HAHA. No one did actually get me in the eye though, so I will take it.
Since that night, I am slowly but surely getting used to training with contacts. Some days I end up training without the contact in the right eye because it is just bugging me too much and I take it out while I'm at work or as soon as I get home. Saturday I didn't put either in because it was still taking me about fifteen minutes to put the buggers in and I didn't feel like wasting fifteen minutes of the half hour I had that morning before I had to leave for the dojo. I have discovered one thing though; the left contact is a whole lot easier to put in then my right contact. Truthfully, I only really need the contact for my left eye anyway, so if I don't put in the right one, it isn't really that big of a deal. It's main purpose is to correct for the astigmatism (which it does an awful job of doing since its out of focus more then it is in!)
Last nights class was pretty laid back. Since it was hot out, sensei had us grab bokken and we worked on another kumitachi. This one was harder then the one I had done last week. It really requires a sticky feeling with your partner's bokken. All of us, well… everyone but Marc were having a hard time grasping this sticky, but not pushy feeling, so sensei had us do some exercise with each other that would help foster this feeling. We took turns walking forward and backward with our partner while circling our partners bokken and trying to maintain contact. This was a lot harder then it first appeared. It did help though. When I went back to working with Marc, I felt like I was able to maintain contact with his bokken a lot better then I had previously. I still need plenty of work though, but that is what the years ahead are for right?
Tonight I have weapons, aikido and then iaido. I'm not really sure who will show up or what lies ahead. All I really know is that I am really looking forward to training later. There is a certain peace that I find when training. It calms me down and it helps me find my center again in this tipsy turvy world. Sometimes I think about being lazy and skipping class, but in the end, an unknown force pulls me towards the dojo. The hardest part about training is showing up. Once your there, everything else seems to fall into place (more or less). It is then, that I realize I am exactly where I need to be.