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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.
While everyone was getting a drink of water after Ron finished teaching I offered an idea about receiving correction. I said, "When your instructor corrects your technique please say thank you no matter how you feel inside. Do this as an exercise in mindfulness."
As I have thanked Ron or my uke each time I am corrected I have come to appreciate the time and attention given to me and my training. I have stopped listening as much to the defensiveness that pops up and am able to focus more on what has been suggested to me. As I work to incorporate the suggested idea into my technique my mind quiets because I am fascinated by the movement.
Since I have been relaxing into correction I have been calmer in my movement, training and my life outside the dojo. My interaction with my partner feels flowing. I don't try to be perfect anymore. I do the technique as I think Ron has demonstrated, trusting that if something needs to be changed he will tell me.
My mind still sometimes comes up with defensive comments but I always say "thank you" and work diligently to do what has been suggested. Then the negativity fades away and empty mind is reestablished.
My daughter Emily told me that Mercury has been in retrograde since last week. Maybe that explains why I have been dragging my heart around all week.
My mind comes up with some pretty creative negative thoughts, such as, "you should have stayed in nursing school" or "why did you divorce him?" Both laughable ideas.
My mind never comes up with spontaneous joyous judgments like: "Good job marrying, Ron" or "don't you have a beautiful family full of lovely grand children?"
So class last night was especially needed and especially helpful. It was an ordinary Aikido class at our dojo. We trained in groups of three, concentrating on 3rd kyu techniques with the formal finishes. Training always makes me feel better and the quiet practice of kata tori sankyo with the finish lulled me back to now again. Ron had us do other 3rd kyu test techniques separated by repetitions of ki testing that further focused our ki and settled me down even more.
I left class sweaty, tired and centered, able to relax into another evening after a long day at work. Menopausal hormones mess with my mind and age has made my body more achy breaky. My Aikido training continues to help me blend reality with the scary places my mind can take me.
Today we don't have class, so breathing from my center and remembering where my feet are bring me back to now over and over. I train where I am in the moment in or out of the dojo.
3 quick ideas about how aikido training can enhance your fitness regimen.
Your fitness regimen can be enhanced by aikido training. Imagine become safer, more flexible in body and mind and having tons of fun.
Aikido is a Japanese martial art that was developed in the last century by Morihei Ueshiba. Often called the art of peace or the way of harmony with ki, Aikido training will affect your life in many ways but I will start with a quick 3.
Often overlooked in Aikido is the self-defense aspect because until you have trained for at least 3 or 4 years the techniques can seem ineffective. On the contrary, the philosophy of least possible harm and an unlimited set of responses is a great place to start your safety practice.
Aikido emphasizes timing, body and space awareness, along with measuring our responses to stimuli and being in the now.
Just by embracing these ideas a beginner has come a thousand steps into the fascinating journey of aikido and of increased safety in this crazy world we live in. As your training makes your technique's more effective, the awareness you develops is concrete. You will notice the world all the time. Once you make a decision to be in the now you will constantly be called back to it through your training.
Aikido is fun. Yes, it is. The exercise can be moderate or intense. Easily modified for each individual's fitness level and physical limitations, aikido can also be adapted for age and gender. The shared renewal of ki energy is inv
I started class on this cool late summer morning with free movement. Each person chose a weapon. Charlie, Ron, Ann and Dora picked bokkens. Jocelyn picked her jo and I used my short sword. When you met another person you could engage or simply move on by. After 5 minutes I urged everyone to be more aggressive and to interact as often as they could with each other. This created amped up funness. I got poked once by Jocelyn and had a couple of near misses when the third person attacked me and I was a bit late in response. After some wrist exercises and rolling we explored freestyle with the parameters of not controlling uke in the least. Then we did a 2 person freestyle with none but the usual parameters of keeping uke safe at all times.
Kata Tori Shiho Nage offered us an opportunity to explore correct technique, moving very slowly but still in motion. We brought it into the circle throwing 3 ukes one after the other, moving more quickly than before but focusing on correct technique and ending up behind uke. I urged students to use Shiho Nage as an opportunity to know where their bodies were in relation to uke's body at all times.
Ron explored Shomen Uchi Kokyu Nage and Irimi Nage. Shomen Ucho Koyku Nage was with the baseball throw extension metaphor which allows nage to keep moving even though uke may stop. We did Irimi Nage with a in your face atemi that swept past uke's face and then back again made more challenging because our habits around this technique include
As I was washing the dojo windows today I relished the breeze that cooled my face and the dappled sunlight dancing on the blue cheer floor that covers our dojo floor.
Soon the dojo will be filled with aikidoka rolling, falling, smiling, doing kata with and without weapons.
Rhythmic mat slapping and quiet shuffle of bare feet will again sooth our souls.
All month I have been doing my ki exercises, weapons work and stretching in the peaceful early morning air. Now I am ready for everyone to come back. Aikido is a shared experience. The exchange of energy and roles even us out. The consistent meeting of body and mat beat the truth into us. We leave class clear and refreshed ready to meet the world for another day.
Brrrr and still we had class. Yay. Ron started with some Ki exercises but then he switched to a free form bokken movement for about ten minutes. After that I was really warm. We practiced in a circle because there were only six of us and 4 of the six are over 55. Wow, to put that down on paper sounds old and we are really young.
Ron had us circle up and then demonstrated throwing, using only one arm. We each went through using just the right hand then again with just the left hand. So fun. Then we did some double uge: great fun and a great work out.
When I started teaching I asked the class to get in a circle and then I asked Charlie to come and slap both my cheeks. After a vigorous minute or so he was unable to clap my cheeks so I got in the circle and he was then nage. We went around the circle twice until everyone was winded and happy. It is amazedly hard to slap both cheeks at once and uke trying to slap nage gave nage great energy to work with.
Naming techniques offered us a slower pace to get our wind back and wind down. As usual, the weight of the world sloughed off my back in class. After class Ron and I spent another quiet night of our lives together in peace and warmth.