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After my test, I was cruising along the aikido highway in my car, admiring the scenery, listening to Tom Petty's song "I Won't Back Down" when… it happened. I hit a pothole; a large, ugly pothole that shook my car so hard that my tire felt as if it were about to fall off. I cringed at the sound my car was now making. My once happy Cabrio (aka Lil Blue) was now making the most awful sounds. I slow down and carefully pull off the road in order to assess the damage. I get out of my car and tentatively walk towards the left rear tire. I figure, if I approach it slowly and with caution, that maybe, just maybe, it would be alright. I get there and look down; yappari (as I expected), it was ruined. Instead of a tire, I was now the proud owner of what appeared to be rubbergami (rubber origami).
I pop the trunk and dig around inside. Mat for the ground, check. Tire iron, check. Jack, check. Spare tire, uhm…. where is the spare tire!?! I'm now staring at an empty compartment which is supposed to house my spare tire! How can a spare tire just mysteriously disappear! It was there when I got the car and I have never had reason to use it before. As I investigate this compartment, I become convinced there is a second hidden compartment in here somewhere. A crumpled up piece of paper catches my eye. I open it up and scribbled on it in pencil is a note "You won't need a spare tire, so I took it. ~Sensei" My first reaction was hostility. How could he take my tire!?!
This weekend was a LONG weekend for me. Friday night I helped with a seminar hosted by SCAI (I am a board member). My duty was to assist with photography (which I love doing!) Shozo Sato Sensei gave an interesting talk about "Active Empty Space" and how it is utilized in art (shodo and sumi-e). Saturday I got up at 7:15 a.m. in order to go to iaido and aikido class. Iaido went well. For aikido we worked on: uchikaiten sankyo, iriminage, kotegaeshi and a variation of sumiotoshi all from tsuki. Aikido was an abbreviated class because we had to transform the dojo into a place that would hold the shodo and sumi-e workshop that SCAI was hosting.
As soon as class was over, we pulled out a tarp and covered up the mats. Sensei then had 3 of us walk to this church a couple blocks away to pick up these heavy metal tables so we could carry them back to the dojo. Let me tell you…. those tables were abnormally heavy! It didn't help that I am shorter then the other people who were carrying the tables, so I had to lift the table up more then they did so it wouldn't drag on the ground. By the time we got those tables back to the dojo my poor arms were tired. We then set the tables up on bean bags to prevent them from damaging the mats and then placed thick mats around for the chairs to be set upon. We then brought in all the chairs. At this point I was able to take a break and I hurried up and chowed down my Olive Garden salad that I had brought with me (knowing
Well, now that the test is behind me, I feel as if a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I feel more relaxed, yet still focused. It is weird though, because it is a different kind of focus. I can't really describe what the difference between the two is, but they are definitely different. I guess maybe the added pressure changed things. Either way, I am now ready to face new challenges and to push myself even further. Contentment is the gateway to laziness, which can lead to dormancy, which often ends with a training plateau. So, to prevent anything like this from happening, I have been making short term goals that will help me attain my long term goals. I can't quite go into details as to what my goals are at the moment though, because I am still in the process of defining them. At some point though, they will be posted in a blog because I find that seeing them helps me put them into action easier then just thinking about them. Well, that is enough about that, let me get back to class.
Tuesday's class started off a little laid back. We did our usual warm-ups, then sensei had us work on rocking back (backwards ukemi from sitting) and then had us rock side to side so we would end up slapping with our hand and foot like we just landed from a breakfall. Sensei was explaining how important this was incase you are thrown into a breakfall and he then explained that if nage holds you up off the mat as you land, this will force you to take a breakfall. He th
As many of you may know (if you read my blogs), I just graded for the first time. Here is an interesting essay my sensei wrote several years ago about the simularities between quenching a sword and testing students. I read this the day before my test and it really helped me put things in perspective. Enjoy!
Testing Your Metal (Mettle)
Darrell Bluhm, Chief Instructor, Siskiyou Aikikai, Ashland,Oregon
The most critical phase in making a sword is when the sword is heat treated or quenched. This is the stage in which the curvature of the blade and hardening of the cutting edge are established, and resiliency of the blade reinforced. The process involves coating the blade with clay in a prescribed fashion (thickest toward the back, thinnest along the cutting edge), then heating the blade to a critical temperature and plunging it into water. The differential rate of cooling of the metal that happens due to the varying thickness of clay creates the curvature of the blade and hardens the edge while maintaining a softness and toughness in the remaining part of the blade. This event is the make it or break it point in the sword making process.
At the moment the blade is quenched all of the hours of smelting and forging and shaping that have gone into the metal can be lost, because the blade can break if the smith errs in judging the temperature (too hot) or has inadequately forged the metal. The blade may survive the quench but the curvature desired may not result
Started Aikido: March 3, 2009
Date 5th kyu obtained: November 5, 2009
Number of students tested: 4 (2 males, 2 females)
Number of students passed: 4
Number of uke's utilized: 2 (switched uke's half way through test)
Techniques on 5th kyu exam: (may not be all inclusive)
~ Katatedori ai hanmi- ikkyo (omote & ura), shihonage (omote & ura), iriminage,
~ Katatedori gyaku hanmi- uchi & soto kaitenage, iriminage, kokyuho
~ Katadori- ikkyo (suwariwaza- omote & ura)
~ Ryotedori- kokyuho (suwariwaza)
~ Shomenuchi- ikkyo (suwariwaza- omote & ura)
Number of Aikido classes attended: 119
Total hours trained in Aikido: 159.5
Total hours trained in Iaido: 46
Total hours trained in Tai Chi: 26
Most hours trained in one week: 7 ½ (Aikido), 10 ½ (Total)
Most hours trained in one month: 27 (Aikido), 41 (Total)
Number of journal entries: 40 (Including this one)
New equipment obtained/purchased:
~ Bokken with saya
~ Iai obi
~ Hakama (borrowed from sensei)
I may add more to this if anything else comes to mind.
Well, today I had my test for 5th kyu. I was a bit nervous, but I kept telling myself I had no reason to be. Sensei had the four of us line up and then had our ukes line up behind us. I was glad to see that my uke was someone that I have gotten to know a lot better lately since we have been giving him rides to class. This person has helped me a lot in class and I am glad that they were part of my test. Sensei had us start of with suwariwaza katadori ikkyo and shomenuchi ikkyo.
We then moved to standing techniques. We did shihonage, iriminage, kokyuho, uchi and soto kaitenage and ikkyo. We did a couple of these from different attacks as well. I felt pretty good with the terminology and I didn't really have to take the time to think about what technique was being asked of me. I tried my best to remain centered and keep everything I had been told over the past months in my head, but I know that I wasn't able to remember everything. I guess I was a bit naive, but I thought that we would only be doing the technique four times. I was wrong! We did each of the techniques several times (which makes sense since sensei had to watch four of us).
Not too long into the test, I had begun to run my poor uke ragged! He was breathing pretty hard and I just kept putting him into more kaitenage's since that was what we were doing. I saw he was breathing hard and I attempted to slow the throw down, but you can only do so much. Finally, sensei looked over at us and said
Imagine being in a room you are somewhat familiar with. You have a general idea of where things are and you could go and get something if someone asked it of you. Now, imagine that same scenario, except the room is pitch black. You can no longer see the room well enough to navigate; you have lost your sense of direction. You are left with nothing but your memory, which you just can't seem to recall with much clarity. All you have is what little muscle memory you have from walking around that room from time to time. This is how I feel with my 5th kyu exam a day away. I have never had to grade before. In all my previous years of training, I never tested. The rank was awarded to you when they thought you earned it.
::cue dream sequence:: The one time I had to test was for a patch. You had to go out in front of the entire dojo by yourself and do a kata (Shaolin Strike Kata #1). Once you finished, everyone in the class then told you what you did wrong. Once everyone gave their opinions, my teacher would then decide if you had earned the patch. I was a green belt at this time and this was the very first kata I had learned. So, I had been doing this kata for over a year. I pretty much knew this kata in and out. I could do it forward, backward and if you called out a number (there were 21 moves), I could easily do that move without thought. In fact, I had already performed this kata alone in front of everyone in the past without a problem. The fact that I was
WARNING: This entry is quite long and digresses a bit. HAHA.
I used to think of myself as a fairly humble person. It wasn't so much as something I strived to be, but more like something that was part of me. Part of my modesty may be due to the fact that I am overly critical of myself and I often see the mistakes I have made along the way. Part of it could also be the way I was brought up. I didn't have the best childhood, but it could have been worse. At least my parents loved me, fed me and put a roof over my head. I wasn't being physically abused and I had an amazing brother and grandparents that meant the world to me. In fact, I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for them and I will be forever grateful for that.
My parents were not the best of role models. Well, they were role models, but in the way that they showed me what I didn't want to become. Unfortunately, I haven't left behind all the bad habits I was accustomed to while growing up. I am overly critical of myself to the point that I have little to no self confidence. I expect excellence from myself and when I don't achieve it, I really put myself down. I remember one time in high school I brought home a 99 in science and they asked me why I didn't get a 100. I remember one time telling my mom that I wanted to go to college. Her reply was "You aren't going to college." Well, I decided apply to college anyway, it wasn't like I had bad grades or anything. I sat down and filled out a sin