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Sensei Rick Stickles of Aikido Schools of New Jersey is here for our second seminar this summer. This doesn't usually happen. He comes here once every year, but usually around Christmas time I think. My Sensei was one of his students. He was actually among the first four students that Stickles Sensei trained to black belt.
We had dan tests on Saturday. One nidan and two sandans. Sensei called me up to take ukemi during the freestyle portions of all the tests. So I was one among four people. I was so excited. I only went "splat" a couple of times. Oh yeah, and one of the sandans grabbed my face on a tsuki and threw me. I thought, "Whoa, I can't see," as his big mitt was covering my entire face.
I've been taking quite a bit of ukemi for Stickles Sensei. This has been a very good experience for me. We have two more classes left.
Last night at class, one of the juniors who has been training for about four months was having rolling problems. We were working in a group. Everyone knows that he's a beginner and was training with him according to his level of experience. He can do solo rolls and when doing a technique slowly we set him up to do a solo roll. His roll would fall apart and he'd do a kind of sideways-on-his-back kind of roll. After seeing that a few times, I said to him quietly that I'd seen him do proper rolls and that's all I said. I guess I'd come to the conclusion that he wasn't trying. And it bugged me. Of course some of you might think that I was totally out of line and should have kept my mouth shut as we all progress at different rates and that's totally fine. But right afterwards his rolls improved.
And along this vein of individual progress, one of the things I've been thinking about lately regarding my training is how solitary it is. Yes, I train with a great bunch of people. And we try to help each other through our training, sometimes giving a little push when needed, literally and figuratively. Sometimes when my sempai explain something to me I think I understand, but I'm still not able to apply what they're saying. There's no "lightbulb" moment. Over the years there have been lightbulb moments, but usually way after first hearing the explanation and after much practice. When I gain an understanding of something and an ap
It's been a while. I guess a little update would be in order.
In May I tested for 3rd kyu and passed. I made a few mistakes, mostly due to nerves I think. And it felt like I was going a mile a minute. But after looking at the video (we tape all tests at our dojo) it looked like I was barely making any effort at all. My uke had just gotten back from a trip to the UK. She literally got off the plane, got home, kissed her family hello, picked up her gi and hakama, came to class, got on the mat and was told to be my uke. She didn't have any time to be jet lagged.
We had our seminar in June with a sensei visiting from Syracuse. He didn't do anything flashy which was great, but demonstrated simple (meaning…those "simple" techniques which are simply difficult to execute) and basic techniques. I always find it really interesting to learn from other instructors and see how they teach techniques slightly differently. Our Sensei once said that seminars are meant to confuse you, make you think.
Our only female black belt has left the dojo. She and her family decided to move to London (UK). She trained at the dojo for eight years. When she started she was already a black belt in karate, so training in aikido presented her with many challenges. For her last class with us Sensei asked her to teach. We had a lot of fun. It was also a good way to distract her. She said to me and another woman at the end that Sensei seems to know j