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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….)
Wow it has been a while since I have written in here.
The tests all went well, everyone passed with flying colors. Ricks test was fun, as Uke.
My Aikido Schedule is a little lighter than normal, and I have missed a training or two here and there, but overall attend most of the morning, and at least one basic class. Weapons class has fallen by the wayside, while I am working on getting the boat back into shape…
I am working on a project at the dojo, and have been able to take quite a bit of Ukemi from Sensei in Irimi Nage. What a strange technique any way that you look at it. Getting everything right as Nage sure seems tough. Sensei says that this is the 20 year technique, and that it takes you 20 years to get it close to correct. I can see this. Every once in a while I get a gift, and feel something that approaches Aikido in the technique.
I have also been working on how our internal attitudes and feelings effect the way that we do Aikido. It is interesting to watch my internal tensions, and lack of relaxation reflected tactically in my partners bodies when we are working together. By relaxing and flowing I can feel their bodies change, the amazing thing is that this works both as Uke and as Nage. If I am tense, so is my partner. Of course there are people on the mat that are easier to relax with then others, maybe that is because they are relaxed?
An incident happened about a week ago that shocked me. It was cool, but entirely too strange….
Worked with Mike for his test on Friday, over an hour and a half almost all of it being Uke. It was amazingly good workout. Woke on Saturday stiff as can be....
There was a lot to pick up in the hour and a half of Ukemi, there were a lot of places that I could feel my Ukemi making adjustments to keep me safe when the technique was not quite right, and some places that there were opening were aparent to me. (Since the test is for fourth Kyu there is no need to point them out, but I could still see them! Wow!!!!)
Training going well, I even have most of my Variations well established, or something comes out that looks like one of them in any case, and my Uke falls over. :-)
Sensei approached me at the end of class, after everyone had left (except Rick), and asked if I would mind being bumped from the testing. He explained that I was doing well, and that I most likely pass if I took the test this time. We had a lot of people sign up after the deadline for the testing, some of them senior to me, and that if everyone tested that was ready and had submitted a request form, that the testing secession would be close to three hours long. This was too long for the audience, and most of us that would have to sit in some form of Seiza for that long . :-)
He explained that my test would be even better in August, and that of the people that he could bump to August, I was the least likely to be effected by being bumped. "You are very…..(hand gestures for a regularly scheduled event inserted here)……" I said; "Consistent?" Rick said; "Fanatical?". We all laughed, and sensei said; "More like what Rick said".
It was a little disappointing, but not really a big deal. Relaxing in a way, three more months definitely won't hurt my variations or my Jui Waza. As sensei said, it will make it that much more of a good looking test.
Used my new Tanto when practicing tanto waza with Rick today, at first I wasn't all that sure of it because of the handle length, but once using