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After a couple weeks away I managed to train both Thursday and Saturday this past week. Thursday was tough. I felt very off and had a hard time tracking things, which made me feel inept. The central theme for me was "shugyo." I could feel the omitted training throughout and even got sick at one point during a connection exercise where uke more or less ran around nage. The previous couple weeks had been rather crappy on several fronts and the cumulative effects were readily apparent. I did very much enjoy the san nin ikkyo randori at the end of class though. Clearly they were taking it easy on me when it was my turn, but it was one of the few moments I was able to turn off my mind that night and it felt really good to do so.
The difficulty on Thursday had me eagerly looking forward to Saturday. Saturday morning came around and I was ready to get on the mat. It was my birthday (my very own new year celebration ) and as a pleasant surprise I opened the door to see snow softly coming down. I love the snow so it was a nice way to start my hour journey north to the Jinja. Smile upon my face, I decided to grab my CD case and I plugged in my old-time favorites, The Doors. Time to Break on Through to the other side.
Thursday, Sensei had asked me if I was up to date on the new yonkyu requirements. I was not, so I made it a point to have one technique request at the ready. However, other folks spoke up before I did, so I didn't get to ask. Still, one of the techniques requested was off the list. I felt much better than I did Thursday. Even my legs felt strong as I got up from ukemi each time. Exercise good. Stress and eating a lot? Not as much. I still felt rather "less-than" compared to two weeks ago, but it was much more pleasant on the whole.
After keiko I made Omairi (formally visited) and received Oharahi (formal purification). It was just what the doctor ordered for the stressful baggage I'd been carrying around these past couple weeks. There is something potentially profound in simple actions when your intent is focused sufficiently. Over time I've come to really appreciate this aspect of ritual practices. Per my humble vantage, mindset is everything and however you can activate it positively is a good thing. It brought to mind my rituals before soccer games as a kid, where I often changed from one of the quietest kids around to a loud and aggressive player. I remember how I would sit and "stare inward," building up what I now think of as intent. This reminded me of something Sensei was talking about Thursday. He described the importance of having a kind of emotional alchemy process; of channeling frustration or sadness (i.e. negativity) into something positive and how, over time, it can get easier because you already have the pathways more established.
It was a great way to start my birthday and to reinvigorate my attitude in general and today I'm feeling grateful, ready for more calming restless flow.
To infinity and beyond ("...to the other side").
To focus on this week at home:
Ikkyo and Nikkyo bokuto kata
Ai hanmi katate tori kaiten nage omote (focusing particularly on the moment of cutting the grasping hand down along the center line and throwing aite forward along that line).