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For the past several days I have been really looking forward to training again. I had put my personal emotional breakdown behind me and was finding myself more excited the closer Tuesday became.
The entire day I spent in random daydreams about aikido. Honestly, I feel like a beginner all over again. Perhaps my mini vacation will prove to have been a good thing. I now find myself with a better appreciation of what it is I am doing, as well as for my sensei and other students at the dojo.
My hubby and I arrived at the dojo to see William there. He had moved away a while ago and it was nice to see him back. He explained that he was back to prepare for some wedding plans. We chatted for a bit before I went to change into my gi. On my way upstairs, I stopped and chatted with Erin. She said she wouldn't be able to train since she is feeling a bit sick, but came to help clean the dojo.
Once we were upstairs, I discovered that there were only three people total (me, my husband and William). Where is everybody? Usually Tuesday evenings have a better turnout. Maybe it with it being spring break around here, people are off traveling. William fell us in and started warm-ups and sensei then took over warm-ups once he arrived.
We lined up in the back of the class as sensei grabbed William to demonstrate our first technique- tai no henko. As we were watching sensei demonstrate, a fourth student bowed onto the mat- Don. That made us an even four, which is always nice. Though, sometimes if you are the third man out, you get the perk of sensei grabbing you and working on that technique or something else all together.
The majority of the class was spent on different varieties of kotegaeshi, but we also worked on kokyuho as well. At one point, sensei clapped and we all rushed to the back of the mats to watch the next technique. Before that, we were working on a variation of kotegaeshi from a gyaku hanmi grab and you deflect their hand away with your other hand and then enter (irimi). At this point, you turn and face the same way as uke and then you place one hand near their elbow bend and the other hand grabs kotegaeshi. For this, we were supposed to just slide back and take uke off balance. Evidently, we were turning our hips instead of staying straight because sensei decided to tell us a story about a time with Chiba sensei. He said Chiba sensei got frustrated at a seminar and said "When I ask you to turn your hips, you don't. I finally give you a technique that doesn't require it, and you turn your hips!" Sensei said this story in a joking manner, but it got the point across all the same.
This is a skill that I am still working on. Not just watching, but truly seeing what he is doing. What is his footwork? What is his starting orientation, versus ending orientation? What technique is he doing? What are his hips doing? These are all things that I am slowly learning to watch for, but inevitably, I end up missing something. It is that thing I am missing that keeps me coming back. My desire for perfection will keep me coming back for years to come, as aikido is a never-ending process of learning from your mistakes.
Sensei then calls me up and demonstrates ai hanmi shihonage. I partner up with William and before I know it, sensei is clapping and we all line up to bow out. Wow did time fly! As we bow out, I can't help but give thanks for the opportunity I have. I am hot, sweaty and exhausted, but I wouldn't have it any other way………
Wednesday first hour was weapons class. Sensei had us work on some basic cuts and then we would practice some of those same movements empty-handed with our partners. It was nice to see some of the similarities and be able to get a better sense of the line of attack.
Second hour was regular aikido and there were four yudansha and three kyu grade students. We started off the class with a bit of suwariwaza iikyo to loosen up our shoulders. I did the technique standing, as suwariwaza is still a bit too much on my foot. We then moved on to variations of kotegaeshi, kokyuho, jujinage and iriminage. It was a good class and I feel like I have this new appreciation for aikido and how it works. I definitely have many weaknesses I need to work on, but I feel like I am able to notice them a bit more now from watching sensei so much. Maybe it is all in my head though…..
Sensei called me up to demonstrate an iriminage variation. Things were going okay and then one time he pulled me in and next thing I know, I am accelerating towards that mat at warp speed! My feet were pointed up at the ceiling and I was looking at sensei the whole way down. I did the only thing I knew I could do; slap. As soon as I landed, I apologized to sensei because I think I kicked him on the way down. He asked if I was okay and told me not to fall at his feet or I could get kicked. The weird thing was, I did NOT intend to fall at his feet. Up until that point, I had been falling away from his feet. It was as if my feet kept walking past my body, up an imaginary wall until they were on the ceiling. It was the most amazing feeling in the world!!!!!!!!!
Later on that night, while working with a sixth kyu on an ai-hanmi katatedori direct entry variation of iriminage (slide in with forward foot), he stiffened up his arm and upper body and wouldn't allow me to do the technique. I tried a few times to figure out how to get his elbow up and see tried to find the line needed to off balance him, but I couldn't seem to find it. I was almost there. I could sense that if I just somehow could get a bit further, he would go, but I couldn't seem to get over that last little rock. Finally, I reached up with the other hand, grabbed the back collar of his gi-top and pulled down ever so slightly. Down he went. Although I wasn't successful with the particular technique we were working on, I was glad that I was still able to see another opening and found out it was successful that time.
Once again, before I knew it, class had come to an end. My foot was killing me and I was tired and hungry, but I somehow found my way to the line to bow out. When I got home, I assessed my foot and decided to take some medicine to help with the inflammation that I felt. I also noticed that I had a nasty bruise developing on my right ankle. I tried to recall what I might have done, but nothing eventful comes to mind. As I sit here now, it would probably be easier to say what doesn't hurt. Ah, it's good to be back!