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Last week, my husband traveled to the east coast without me to visit friends and family. Although I would have loved to go (I haven't seen my friends and family in over a years), I chose to do the responsible thing and stay behind since we are strapped for cash. Because my husband was away, this allowed me more liberty to train as well. Unfortunately, because I was down and out thanks to migraines and allergies, I wasn't able to quite have the training extravaganza that I was hoping for, but I did get to go to one additional class. My usual training schedule consists of the following:
This week, I was able to attend class on Monday, which was from 6-7:30. As you may know, Monday was O-Sensei's Death Day. So, this made my extra day of training even more special for me. Once we arrived at the dojo and were on the mat, sensei, Marc, Ben and I were talking about various things. Sensei was telling us about his knee injections and that he was supposed to stay off the mat for three weeks, but mentioned that wouldn't happen. He said he wanted to get them done now so he would be ready for theatre (he is currently teaching the actors iaido for ‘Throne of Blood'). I'm not sure how we got on the topic, but at one point I told sensei that last week when I was sick and couldn't come to class I texted Marc "Tell sensei I'm frustrated with aikido and am never coming back." and then went on to explain that Marc didn't come to class either, thus my brilliant (though sarcastic) message was never delivered. Sensei looked at me and said "I am glad I didn't get that message."
Before he began class, sensei explained that this class would involve little to no talking- other then calling out a technique or something similar and mentioned that Abe would be joining us shortly. As sensei lead warm-ups, I heard the all too familiar crunching gravel that prematurely announces everyone's arrival. In comes Abe. He usually takes quite a bit of time taping his wrist, but today he got right on the mat; surprising. Sensei then told us to do whatever we needed to stretch ourselves out. Once we were done stretching, sensei had us go through variations of tai no henko to warm up. He then went and sat on the shomen and called out various techniques to do. Every so often, he would come around and demonstrate a finer point of a technique that I was missing.
Some of the techniques we worked on were: suwariwaza shomenuchi: ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, yonkyo, gokyo, iriminage, kotegaeshi and kokyuho. I had a few problems with some of these techniques, but that is expected considering that I haven't done some of these very often from suwariwaza (or at all for that matter). My nikyo and sankyo are slowly, but surely getting better. For some reason, I had a problem with omote. For some reason, I just could NOT get my stinkin' thumb to smoothly go around Ben's wrist to go from the ikkyo to the nikyo position. I don't normally have a problem with this, so I am not too worried about it. I worked with Marc for yonkyo and gokyo. He was quite patient (as always) and helped me. He also reminded me to keep my elbows down/in. Not sure if I will ever get around to fixing that problem. I have always had a problem with yonkyo. It takes me forever to find the correct spot and then I just can't seem to get it right. Sensei told me that I need to project through my uke's elbow. I think out of like ten tries I got it right maybe two… three tops. Not so great of a percentage there. For gokyo, I kept grabbing the wrist like ikkyo, when you are supposed to grab it palm up instead of palm down. I figure with enough time and practice, I will get it down….. maybe….. maybe not…. Haha. Iriminage, kokyuho and kotegaeshi went so-so. I worked with Ben on these. He was patient and dealt with my ignorance rather well. :O)
After all of us were getting pretty tired and were sweaty, sensei had us stand up and grab bokken. We did some simple warm ups with those and then partnered off. This part of the class went by rather quickly and I am afraid I don't recall exactly what we did. When sensei clapped for us to line up, I was pleasantly surprised that our hour and a half was up already. Time flies when your having fun I suppose. Once we finished bowing out, sensei informed us that more classes would be like today. He stated that he wanted us to do more suwariwaza and that each class would be dedicated to suwariwaza from now on.
I went home feeling a bit tired, but happy that I went. Tuesday was an interesting class. Sebastian showed up. Sebastian doesn't really train on a regular basis, so it's nice when he makes an appearance. He is a 5th kyu like me, but has been at this rank longer, so I treat him as my sempai. As he went to mark his hours down he commented that "It looks like you are the only one training." Sensei and I both responded that it has been mainly Abe and I who are always showing up. Eventually Simon (the new guy) and Abe showed up. It is always nice having even numbers. It allows the instructor to walk around and make observations and corrections.
Before class started, two women came into the dojo and stated that they wanted to watch a class. They mentioned that they had spoke to someone on the phone. Sensei walked out from the little room on the shomen and mentioned it was him they spoke to. He then welcomed them in and told them where they could sit. As he was about to leave, he whispered to Marc "Don't scare them." (Marc was teaching for sensei) HAHA! Today's class was pretty laid back. We worked on ai hanmi ikkyo and iriminage most of the class. We also did jujinage as well. Throughout the class, Marc would come over and tell me what I was doing wrong and I would do my best to correct the problem. I worked with Simon for iriminage. He didn't do too bad! He is actually doing well for the short amount of time he has been in class.
Yesterday, I gave Marc a ride to class (like always) and wondered who would show up today. Marc said that he thought Ben would be the only other one to show since Abe said he had a birthday to go to. Sure enough, when we go downstairs to the changing room, Ben is the only other person there. Sensei shows up and asks Marc to lead the second hour of aikido since his leg is so swollen. Marc agreed and told him that he would take Thursday's classes as well so sensei could stay off his feet. Once class started, Marc had us do some work with the jo. It started off with jo basics. The jo has really started to grow on me as of late, so I am actually going to be sad when this month comes to an end and we make the switch to the bokken.
Pretty soon, Marc has us adding more and more responses (mostly kesa responses from kesa, but some other things as well). When the hour was almost over and the second hour was about to begin, Marc told us that if no one else shows up, we would just continue to work with the jo. I told him I was completely fine with that. The second hour went by quickly as well and soon Marc had us lining up to bow out. I then reid to Ben and thanked him for his patience. After class, Marc and I were chatting waiting for Jane to come up for iaido. He told me that I had been working on Sansho 2 in the previous class. Sweet! Now I know a bit of Sansho 1 (part 1 and part of part 2) and a bit of Sansho 2 (part 1 I am guessing).
For iaido, I was dragging a bit. I was low on energy, but I wanted to stay anyway. Luckily, we did standing forms today because for some reason my hamstrings are super tight. I can barely lift them half way to hip height and they are aching. I have no idea what I did to them…. but I did something! We started off with 100 shomen cuts to warm up. This didn't go so well for me. When you have a runny nose, it is kind of hard to breathe correctly, especially with you sniffling all the time. The sniffling led to me coating my throat with yuckiness, which then led to me coughing. Uck….. I am sad to say it, but this class did not go by quick enough for me. This isn't to say it wasn't a good class and that I didn't put forth any effort (because both of those statements would be incorrect), but I was glad to see it end.
After class, I drove Marc home and then went home to my hubby (who just got back today from the east coast). Unfortunately, my husband did not have good news for me. He informed me that one of our friends had passed away a couple hours ago from a heart attack. I am still in shock. I held myself together in front of my husband, but I did cry over by the microwave as I made myself some oatmeal for dinner. I was now officially physically and emotionally drained and I crashed out on the couch until it was almost time for bed. We decided to go to bed early and once again, as I was taking a shower the sad reality of losing a friend hit me once more. I just sat under the warm water and let it wash away my tears. This is the third year in a row that I have lost someone close. I can't help but be forced to recognize how fragile human life is. Enjoy the moments you have, because they could be taken away all too soon……
Things to work on/ remember:
1.) Ikkyo: don't push uke away, make sure you cut back to your center
2.) Nikyo: open up your hand on their wrist and lead around their wrist with your thumb
3.) Yonkyo: when you cut, lead with uke's elbow
4.) Gokyo: don't grab like ikkyo, grab their wrist palm UP towards ceiling
5.) Iriminage: don't just take uke forward, take them forward, down, then up and in towards you to take their balance
1.) Yonkyo bruises
2.) Tight hamstrings (probably from being taken down/ forward for iriminage (basically doing a split in the air)