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With Megan breaking her foot and Charlie not falling because a very sore knee we have been focusing on training with the body you have on any given day. Why should we wait until we feel perfectly healthy to train?
As Morihei Ueshiba said, "Heaven is right where you are standing and that is the place to train."
I see this to mean we can train anywhere and at any time and to mean that by accepting our body, mind and spirit as they are in the now we do the best we can with conditions at hand.
I have seen Anne train with remnants of a migraine and I regularly train when I am triggered to near panic. Linda, the oldest living member of the dojo, has trained through dental work and a very sore shoulder. Dora's back was very sore this week so she moved more slowly but not anymore deliberately that she always does.
We are all welcome on the mat unless we are contagious or throwing up because we all know there is absolutely no "hurling" on the mat.
The self-assigned writing project for the 21st anniversary of my mom's death includes the following criteria:
1. I must write a haiku for my mother.
2. I will write about what my mom would have been like in Aikido class.
3. Use the new skill of the "em-dash."
4. Combine all this in a little blog entry.
Definition of Haiku: A Japanese poem of 17 syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally invoking the images of the natural world.
1st attempt at a haiku for my mother -- about my mother training in Aikido.
The gi is tight and white,
I must look big.
I won't go.
The first attempt has little hope. I will try again.
2nd attempt: Smoldering rage
Pressed down between thin lips.
Reversed with tenkan. No Hope.
There. That was cheery. I have abandoned the 17 syllables in perfect form for now because the process is hard enough because of the subject matter.
I can't seem to wrap my mind around my mother in an aikido class.
When I picture her -- and this makes me well with tears—she is sitting in her green recliner, wearing her wood brown Timberline lace up shoes, white anklets showing under a too short, faded, blue jay colored cotton pantsuit, her curly white hair slicked back with a plastic head band, her reading glasses frame clear blue eyes, her chubby sun-spotted hands folded on her lap as she sits under a cloud of despondency.
Definition of despondency: a state of low spirits caused by loss of hope or courage.
The whimsy of the season tickled class this Saturday morning. During the last class before our holiday break I found it hard to be serious and laughed at every opportunity. Celebration for me is around fellowship and shared experiences. Our class was filled with fun and good cheer. Megan was missed and Jocelyn was wished a speedy recovery as we quietly celebrated Anne's birthday.
After class Dora sang a lovely Polish birthday song wishing Anne a hundred more years. May you all live a hundred more years in peace and joy. Our next class will be on December 29th. Come enjoy a little harmony and sweat to help keep sane during this holiday season.
Thursday night in class I felt out of sorts: awkward and self-conscious…half a bubble off. After class I felt anxious. While chatting about class with Ron I felt unworthy of being a teacher ever again. I tend to lean to extremes especially when I am tired.
Saturday morning I was supposed to be the first teacher. I told Ron he should just teach the whole class. He called me out saying that it was my turn to start and I needed to do it.
And I did. I started class with a drill I called "Halt". I demonstrated a complicated kokyu nage from a yokemen attack and challenged us all to say "halt" every time we had a thought. Then we were to voice the thought and start again.
As we trained together (there were ten of us on the mat) I heard many "halts" and much communication and some chuckles as ukes and nages worked together to let go of thought and just train.
I noticed again that when I let go and just be… Aikido happens. My ideas are creative, challenging and interesting. The group benefits from a teacher's lack of self-consciousness. Self-centered fear inhibits creativity and spontaneity.
An aikido class is a like a merrily wrapped holiday present. As we pay close attention the experience reveals itself to us bit by bit.
Before Aikido there was fear, constant fear, unrecognized fear, paralyzing fear,and unconscious fear. Fear manifested itself in buildings not entered, encounters avoided, and many drinks taken way past the point of where drinking was helpful. Fear prohibited conversation, stifled movement and restricted involvement.
After aikido fear got different. Fear was noticed, acknowledged, breathed through, talked about and released though training and sometimes through tears. On the aikido mat fear was met again and again in a safe, supported and controlled environment.
FEAR. Face everything and recover. Fear is slipping away.
Aikido is stillness, motion, up, down, straight in, circular, soft, hard, fluid, choppy, hands on and moving with the energy.
We turn, bend, roll, blend, slide, hop, lean, straighten, near, extend, exhale and inhale.
The mat is there, near, soft, firm, rough and smooth.
We find peace here, and strength, connection and health. We find something inside ourselves that makes life simply matter more. We find others here, and we see them in a way that can't be seen anywhere else. We see their souls, their bodies, their movement and their stillness. We see all of them and then we see all of ourselves.
Halloween is in the air What does nage do when uke comes out from behind another uke? Throw them, of course, using all the energy that circular movement provides.
Let's do a freestyle with our eyes closed and see what happens when we move first and then move again and keep moving.
Then I introduced my new kata tori kote geishe with short choppy steps instead of a sweeping tenkan...very ineffective because uke's balance never get's taken.
However, in freestyle it is often attempted and never works. No wonder people get so winded.
Halloween hi jinks continued into Ron's part of class when Dora and I experienced a mutual fall because we got confused who was nage and who was uke. We looked at each other and laughed. An instant replay was called for and we good naturally obliged.
The pace of class last night was peaceful, quiet and slow, perfect for me after a stressful day at work. The anxiety I brought in with me stayed behind. I felt refreshed, tired and relaxed after class.
We did some partnered movement, some ki walking, and did some awesome blue belt test prep.
Finally, Linda wowed us with an energetic freestyle tossing Ron and Scott around handily.
Ron is introducing ki testing in reps. We did some turning movements based on the basic shoulder ki test we all learn early in our training. Uke pushed on nage's shoulder as nage turned slowly to the side and then turned back. Uke works hard at keeping the testing constant so nage is really challenged. After 3 reps on each side we switched roles.
These reps are very calming to me. This training develops ki strength and body wisdom while moving; bridging the gap between static training and moving technique.
Ron tied the shoulder push ki testing while turning into kata tori ikkyo allowing us to explore moving ourselves from a place of centered strength so uke's balance was compromised and then easily led into a front fall. We worked in groups of three carefully watching Linda as she tried to sneak back into motion. We were supposed to be practicing ikkyo from standing. ;o)
Class always helps me step back into reality and last night was no exception. The shared exploration of a language we are all learning along with the good natured chuckles reassure us of the good in our world.