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Only three other people showed up to class. I love weather.
The thing to work on today was extending your arm all the way down when you bring it down towards your center. This is sort of like emphasizing the down hand in ten shi nage, but we were doing different katatedori receiving techniques. It's so easy to bend your elbow, drawing uke in perfectly balanced!
Thursday is usually 'sensei day' when our two 6th dans teach back-to-back, but for some reason they were both teaching yesterday. Chuck Weber has been working on me pretty consistently recently. Apparently, his desire to see me test has overcome his feeling that I'm probably hopeless.
In any case, today he pointed out the weakness in my attacks. During his class, when we were doing a yokomen with a tanto and later in Charlie Page's class when he and I were paired up for a katatedori technique he came back to it. The idea, as I understand it, is to make sure that the movement of the hand, foot and hip finish the movement together. The idea is familiar to me from Tai Chi, but I'd never really thought about it in the context of Aikido attacks. If your hips and leg have stopped and your hand is still moving, then you are throwing your shoulders off balance.
It's always amazing how powerful my attacks feel against beginners and how weak they feel against students who are much more advanced than I am.
Fridays are my day to teach. I teach first class and Eric teaches the second class. The whole class was three beginners. I remember there was a thread not too long ago on the qualities necessary for teaching beginners, but I have to admit to finding it more challenging than teaching more advanced students. I guess my ideal student is still a low enough rank that I feel like I have something to offer, but high enough rank that they won't have so much of a tendency to copy my mistakes.
Anyway, there was a specific request for mune tsuki kotegaiesh, so we spent the whole class building up to that. It turns out that mune tsuki kotegaiesh is a fairly complicated technique that really makes the most sense with a good uke. I felt like my demonstrations were miserable, like the students had only the vaguest idea about what I was on about, and like I'd generally made a mash of it. So, of course, they were all very happy and felt like they'd learned a lot. Go figure.
Yesterday, Jonathan Klopp taught a class which I named 'catching a baby.' The class was focused on the idea of receiving. The central idea was that when you want to catch something precious (like a baby?!) you first reach out to it, and then, once contact is made, allow it to fall towards your center. You soften your arms and use them as cushions while bringing your body towards the thing you are catching. I found the metaphor -- thinking of catching rather than connecting -- to be a powerful one.
The combination of techniques was also very nice. Most of them don't have any names that I know of, but the idea was to work mostly with very direct attacks (katate kosa, ryote dori, mune tsuki) and in each on to reach out towards the attack while getting of the line irimi or tenkan and bringing uke towards your center.