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WOW. First class worked with M on Nikkyo and a little tenchi nage. This was fun. Worked with D and Krista after. A good first class, flowed nicely, and felt good.
Second class worked with Noel and Don on my test stuff, followed by some great Jui waza. This was wonderful. I tried out making morote out of shoman on Noel, and that was interesting, I don't think that it really worked, as I would have gotten a good punch in the nose, but I do see where it starts and how it might end up there.
Working with both Noel and Don today was amazing, they both help exactly where it feels like I need help, directing me in ways that I understand the energy flow timing and workings of the techniques.
I can also feel the difference between what Noel and Don say I should work on for the test, and some of the things that I can feel especially when I work with them, some of the flow, the ease of guidance instead of strength, the being there, and not being there at the same time. I can feel and occasionally get the energy flow to guiding, the frustrating part is that I can't get it more than maybe 10% of the time. The rest of the time I feel can feel where I just lost it. My ability to concentrate on my uke seems to have slid badly lately, the focus on the eyes, body, the soft but hard focus all seem to have gone away….I kind of miss the little bit of progress that I was making on that.
This week I have been working a new part time job. This is getting in the way of morning Aikido. I am missing it greatly. I am thinking that I am going to see if there is a way to shift things around starting in September so that I can make morning Aikido again.
Sensei Tekle was teaching tonight, so we did a different exercise right after beginning exercises. We all stood in a circle one of us would go into the middle, we would all at the same time do a shomen strike toward the person in the middle. No words were spoken. Once you got over the little bit of anxiety or fear that you had, the exercise really drove home that you only had to be where there were no shomen strikes, it was easier than you can imagine.
Noel worked with me on a lot of stuff for my test. Worked on flowing and guiding, and not trying to do things fast, or to be tricky. The idea of relaxing even more, and making a space for aikido to happen. Starting moving earlier.
Worked with Peter some too, that was great. A good turn out, played with Victor after class for a long while. It was good to work with him. Learning the ways of doing no address aikido is interesting, occasionally I can get it right, makes is somewhat frustrating when the rest of the time I know that I am not guiding, but pulling and pushing!!!!
Worked with Melissa in first class, and V a new person to the dojo. He has been there about two weeks, coming a couple of times a week. It is fun as I was the first person to train with him on the mat, to feel the differences in his body after only two weeks. The tension that was in his shoulders when grabbed is gone, the terrified look on his face when executing a back sit-fall has softened quite a bit, I actually saw it become a smile once.
Melissa is doing well, one of the thoughts that occurred to me while we were training today was that it is looking like I will be able to have an excellent training partner no matter where I go in the world.
I worked with Noel in the second class, and then with Don. It felt so so so good to train with both of them. Don was working on reversals, so I was always the initial
So I was feeling that my prepping for this test was going poorly, and that my Aikido was not up to the level that it was when I was ready to take the test 3 months ago.
In talking with Julia about it this morning, she pointed out that the difference between then and now, is not really in my physical Aikido. She felt that if anything it had continued to get better. Rather that I had polished and polished the Aikido that I had three months ago, and that now I have added to my aikido, and there are new additions, new insights, new little pieces of knowledge sticking out of the plateau that I had spent so much time polishing for the last test period. These new pieces are a whole lot less polished, yet they are growth beyond the polished places of my previous training. Diamonds, not yet polished are still diamonds.
Only three of us showed up for class this morning. One brand new person, me, and one of the yudansha it was a slow class, working in a single group of three. I was hoping to get some work in on my test, but alas it just was not destine to happen this morning. A bit of a let down, but I guess that there are days like that.
One of my biggest frustrations with progressing in rank, is that there begin to be a lot more people of lower rank than you. This sounds strange, I liked it when I first started seemed that everyone knew a lot more than I did and it was incredibly easy to learn from people. You didn't have too root out the lessons in your own practice, you didn't have to work as hard to make big steps. Now I get the same experience when working with my Sempies as I always have, just that now there are a lot fewer of my Sempies than there used to be. I am not doing a very good job of conveying this here. I love training in Aikido, I like teaching, as well as I am able, Aikido to other people. I just see how much more there is for me to learn, and how much of what I know is only partially right. It makes teaching Aikido very frustrating. It makes being the highest ranked person in the room difficult in some ways. I want to be a good helper, but I want to learn too, so I am conflicted, especially when it seems so hard to pry things out of the cracks when looking for them in others, or when working with new people. I know that there are a lot of lessons to be learn
Worked with Noel on test stuff. It was great, I learned where some of the smoothness that he has in his ikkyo comes from, how the shoulder is rolled from the point that you hand reaches the ukes elbow all the way to the mat. It was great. It also felt like I am completely not ready for the test this time.
Victor and I worked together and he helped me with my technique of the morning, and easily pointed out that the problem was in the very beginning of the technique. We worked on it for maybe 5 minutes, and I think that I got the answer, and started doing it a lot better. We also talked about getting frustrated.
We then started working on Kote Gaeishi. Victor would do it, and I cannot tell you why it was that I fell over. Victor said; "Don't give the uke your address". I thought why not, I live behind a locked gate, they have to call to get in… Besides Victor knows where I live! J Then I realized that what he was saying, don't add your own energy to the ukes, as then they have something to use as a place to push or pull. If you only guide their energy then there is no way that they can "find your center or your energy". I did kote gaieshi this way for a while with Victor, any time that I added energy he would reverse the technique on me. Any time that I only guided I didn't use any strength at all and Victor would fall over. It was like Magic.
Worked more on a variety of techniques on the test, and then we did Jui Waza. With Victor it was a
Wow I ended up teaching class again. Thankfully this is open training and my job is to make sure that no one hurts anyone else. The warm up exercises are the best that I have done so far. Diana closed, so I didn't have to get the rhythm for the bowing and clapping so that everyone claps at the same time. I noticed that Sensei and Noel have it down the rest of us seem to not convey it cleanly, so it does not sound as good.
It was probably my most frustrating training period on the mat. I think that I was worried about time and getting ready for the test. There are other things in my life that could press on Aikido. The boat, and the opportunity to teach some refrigeration classes. So I was already feeling somewhat pressured. Worked with one of my training partners, and my partner kept stopping my technique at one point. The issues with the point were ones that didn't seem correctable at the point that the stoppage was happening. We worked on it too much and I became really frustrated.
Tuesday 8/9/05 was frustrating. I did three classes, and was able to play after both of the evening classes with Sempi, however my aikido felt horrid. Nothing seemed to flow. None of my variations were there, I can't remember what they were supposed to be, let alone make them come out well.
Jui Waza felt horrid, like I was too rough with everyone and there was no flow.
I felt really ready for my 2nd kyu test last test cycle. This test cycle I feel like all of Aikido has left my brain and body. This may be in part to doing too much boat work and not enough Aikido.
I felt a lot better after the work out, and the practice, but I am worried at where all of my Aikido has gone.
Sensei called last night, and has to be out of the Dojo this morning. So it looks like I am going to be in charge again. Egads....
Strange last week I ended up teaching class on Thursday. Yep teaching class! The interesting part was coming into the dojo and being met by Anna S. She immidately said without taking a single breath; "You are the highest ranked person on the mat today, so you have to teach the class. You are in charge". Then she smiled, sighed a deep sigh of relief, I imagine at being the second highest ranked person in the Dojo, and went back to sweeping the mat. Turns out that sensei was not feeling well, and could not teach.
Two things really worked in my favor, one it is open training, two I had worried about this happening last month when sensei was on vacation. The first meant that since we are getting ready for a test, the class is not structured as normal, everyone pairs up and works on their test materials. Since there is no demonstration no one would be forced into watching me do a semi-correct technique in front of the class noting every detail as something to be replicated. The second meant that I had committed the warm up exercises to memory, not just the follow along type of memory, but the kind of memory that allows you to sing the words to the entire Bob Dylan song without the record playing….
Once the warm ups and bowing were done things seemed easy. (Ok we didn't sit in seza long enough, and the claps seemed kind of ragged at both ends, most likely because I didn't have enough body language to allow people to follow my movements, and they were too fast….)