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Lately, I have been trying to see with my eyes. It sounds so obvious and simple "see with your eyes", but what I have come to realize is that it isn't a simple task. Countless people walk around every day seeing, without really seeing anything. They don't take in their surroundings, as they are only focused on the path directly in front of them. The details of their surroundings melt away, carelessly dismissed. Or perhaps they see, but they deem it useless information and don't really give it time to process. What a waste of such a beautiful gift. Sight, one of the best assets we have, yet we never really take the time to acknowledge exactly how valuable a tool it is.
I have become conscious of the fact that I myself am quite guilty of not seeing as well as I should. Through my years of martial arts training, I have been taught to be aware of my surroundings and to take in the little details. You know… those little details that could vary well save your life one day. The other day in class, sensei was demonstrating a technique (we were working on irimi and irimi-tenkan against tanto). I carefully watched his every movement. Saw what he did with his hands, saw that he entered. I thought I saw everything to this simple technique. It turns out that I did not see everything. I tossed aside some valuable information. Previously we were both starting in gyaku hanmi. This time we were supposed to start in ai hanmi. When I went to do the technique, I was baffled at the fact that
Back in November four of us tested for 5th kyu. I remember being so nervous and worried that I would fail. FAIL…. Uck that is something I am not good at. It has never been something I have been able to swallow. It is something that I have gotten more gracious at, but it still puts a bitter taste in my mouth. I have always approached it as either you are a winner or a loser. If you get second place, that means you are the first place loser. So on that fateful night, I desperately wanted to pass. Or should I say win? After what seemed like forever (about 30 minutes really), I found out that I passed. I won my first battle. I did not get any feedback from sensei, but I was told by a yudansha that it was a good test. Was it truly a good test? I don't know. He did pull me aside away from all the other testers to tell me so. Did he do it because he thought I could use the boost of confidence or was it truly warranted? Was my test actually good or did it only appear that way because of the abilities of my peers? All I know is that I felt awkward and clumsy during the entire test and I was nervous as hell. At one point while doing gyaku hanmi katatedori uchi kaitenage, my uke rolled away from me prematurely. Surprisingly, I did not panic and just made sure to control my uke better next time. It was my fault after all.
After the test, we went out for pizza and beer. It was a blast and I hope we can do it again after the next test. On the way out, sensei made it a point to say tha
The other day I was in class. At the beginning, we do warm up exercises along with stretches. Well, I was deep in thought while stretching my hamstrings when I looked at my feet that were oh so close to my face. "UCK!" I thought to myself. "I have such ugly aikido feet!" My feet are dry from sliding on the mat (I was taking my second class of the evening), my left pinky toenail is still purple red from stubbing it on the ladder outside the dojo one night in the dark (3 months ago!), my feet are not the soft lovely feet I once had (despite my desperate efforts to keep them moisturized). At this point, sensei has us lay on our backs and raise our legs up into the air in an attempt to touch the mat with our feet behind our head. My feet touch the mat and I continue to think about my ugly aikido feet.
"Ugly aikido feet can't be that bad of a thing.... I mean a lot of work has been put into the current condition of my feet. They have endured almost a year of training that includes approximately 225 hours of aikido and somewhere around 120 hours of iaido and tai chi. That is a lot of time for my feet to be sliding around the rough mats." My thoughts are briefly interrupted as we stand up and start stretching our hands. "I guess like my body, my feet have slowly evolved. They are tougher then they once were, but are still fairly soft and gentle to the touch. They have marks from mat burn that have yet to fade on the tops of my feet that are constant reminders of my awkward and c
Training has been going well as of lately. It seems like sensei is busy getting several people ready for testing. I'm sure someone will be testing for 5th kyu soon, there are about four of us who may be testing for 4th kyu soon and he is busy getting someone else ready for 1st kyu. For a while we were doing nothing but advanced techniques. Tons of stuff that was way over my head and haven't done. I was working on hanmi handachi and kata-shomen attacks. It was fun to work on these things because I felt absolutely no pressure. However, for the past week, things have been dropped back from fourth gear to first gear. What a joy it has been. Sometimes it is so nice to slow down and be able to work on something more familiar.
Last week was a lovely week of the return to the familiar or at least techniques that are more in my range. Sensei has put a strong emphasis on nikyo and sankyo lately. We worked on them from suwariwaza with attacks from: katadori, shomenuchi, yokomenuchi and kata-shomen. We also worked on them from hanmi handachi as well. Then we finally worked on the two techniques standing. It was a nice blend of training based for us about to test for 4th kyu but also helped the guy about to test for 1st kyu. Obviously, hanmi handachi and kata-shomen attacks aren't on a 4th kyu test.
There was also an entire class based on kokyuho. We worked on it from katadori (ai and gyaku), shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, ryotedori and morotedori. It was nice to work