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Today we spent much of our time in class learning ukemi. It's good as we rarely have a chance to spend this much time on it and I for one sorely needed to practice my breakfalls. Friday's class being a generally much smaller one means we have a lot more space on the mat and the instructor has time to give us each more attention.
It turned out to be more fun and less scary than I thought it would be because the instructor kept the breakfalls light and gentle by keeping the speeds down so that people could gradually get used to how to fall. We'd throw each other in such a way that uke could do a slow and soft breakfall almost like doing a roll, but without getting up at the end. It worked very well as there wasn't any slight "leap" into the fall but just tip over at the point of loss of balance. Helped reduce my fear of breakfalls at any rate. Then as we got used to that, we increased the speed and height a little. Not too much, that would be for future practices and this was really the introduction.
The practice was a good one and the women in the class were especially appreciative of it.
As our "grandfather" sensei, Fukakusa Shihan visits my dojo in Singapore every year at our Sensei's invitation. We're always pleased to see him and have him instruct us. It never fails to amaze me how powerful his techniques are.
While there were a lot of things to learn, the most important thing I noted this time was that my tenkan is still very weak. He corrected my posture as he said I had a tendency to lean back and not extend my arms out enough either. I also noticed when he did a basic turn on the spot, how powerful that could be. It didn't even have to involve stepping back or moving the feet other than on the spot. So the circle becomes smaller each time, tighter.
It was also nice bumping into an old friend at the seminar. He had returned recently from several months in Thailand where Fukakusa Shihan teaches and he recounted his experience training there. Hearing his tales certainly gave me a new respect for the students and teachers at the dojo there and made me realise that when I met some of them at a seminar in Bangkok two years ago, all the hard work that must lie behind the generally high standards they had.