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Training has flagged a bit more than I planned. I was hoping for a gradual increase, a nice shallow slope to the imaginary graph in my head, but it's gone slightly downward. However, our household schedule is pretty busy to begin with, and stuff does happen. The half full glass might say that compared to the last several years or so, it is at least a degree of consistency; which fits with my current overarching training goal of "something rather than nothing." Any time I think of training or my posture I take a moment to try to relax and expand my posture, and focus on the expansion and contraction I feel in different parts of my body while breathing deeply.
My more formal attempts at solo practice consist largely in exploring simple movements like shomen uchi and kesa uchi while trying to activate and relax different parts of my body; paying attention to relaxing the hips and shoulders in general. Lately I've been trying to activate my back side more, which was further reinforced last night in class by my sempai when he told me to try to do the technique more from my rear shikaku(s) (the idea being to more equally engage all 4 "corners" I think). So I am trying to feel my front and back sides in conjunction while moving, then adding left and right sides, and up and down, in various orders.
To my mind all of this is tied to the idea of developing an accurate proprioceptive awareness to begin sensing and integrating whole-body movement more accurately and efficiently (as near as I can muster at least). Dan recently wrote on having a profound neutral. I'm making no claims at understanding his meaning, but it brought to mind a thought I've often had which describes my attempts to "find neutral" through equal engagement of the whole body about the center area. One way I'm focusing on this is trying to understand shizentai. In practicing shizentai I am trying to find center and in a sense shape my body around it through relaxation and activation of complimentary parts. Whether it's my wrists, forearms, shoulders, rib cage, or what have you, one side tends to have more latent tension than the other so that when I try to stand as perfectly upright as possible, I am in fact a somewhat crooked, twisting form; parts are overly tight or overly loose and I'm trying to improve my proprioceptive ability so I can actually center myself instead of just thinking it...to have a solid sense of where I am physically and adjust that in some specific way.
On the mat I'm trying to develop the sense of projecting ki throughout and to feel the relationships between foot and hand movement (with respect to the center area) while "sitting back" into an upright posture; "squeezing" the centerline with my right and left sides and relaxing any parts that feel too tense. Of course doing and intending to do are two different things, nevermind all the many things I'm not even aware of yet.
Keiko thursday night was a blast! I got run ragged; had to take a small water break at one point. Loosened up a lot of tension that's been building up in my neck and back and got a great work out. We worked initially on gyaku hanmi kata tori soto kaiten. I really like kata tori for the way it seems to get me to think about my upper torso; it forces me to feel what my shoulder areas are doing more and focus on relaxing them and engaging them by spreading them apart and rotating them around the spine, more or less.
I got a lot of jiyu waza in with sensei, which I always feel greatful for. The process of exploring how to connect and reconnect seems like a great practice for this re-neophyte (that's a word, right? ). It feels like a process of continually seeking improved balance: he moves/twists a limb and I have to find how to move with it so my center/base become more stable; I'm constantly trying to resettle my base and structure and as soon as I get there I have to do it all over again...and again and again and again until I can barely stand up. Once I get to the point of physical exhaustion I start perceiving what I think of as the more essential mechanisms for having an upright and balanced (relatively) posture/tone.
That's the impression for now, at least. Onward and upward.