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We had our last class for the year last night. It was pretty relaxed. We were instructed by the soto-deshi (not uchideshi as I've previously referred to him). We did tsuki attacks. Tsuki iriminage, nikkyo, and sankyo. After class a couple of us went to the deshi's house for a drink. We ended up watching the test video. I was very interested in seeing my ukemi for one of the 5th kyu's test. It wasn't bad. Seeing my test was a bit strange at first, but it's definitely a good exercise to go through. The deshi commented that my posture was very good.
The deshi is our new shodan. He was graded last Thursday as well. The test was sprung on him. He had no idea what was going on. He thought Sensei wanted one of the nidans to demonstrate something on him. I thought it was a mock black belt test, but it wasn't. It was the real thing. His test lasted about half an hour during which he lost a contact lens and had his asthma act up. By the end of it he had a blazing headache and could hardly catch his breath.
He told us last night that he is only one of two people who didn't puke during their shodan test.
We also watched an old video from two years ago. It was taken during a randori class. Sensei wasn't there for the class. It was a free practice for those who were testing for their black belts that year. There was one shodan candidate, two nidan candidates, and one sandan candidate. And the future soto-deshi who was a 3
On Saturday morning at 10:00 the children had their tests. Sensei was there watching the proceedings. The advanced children went first and as I was watching them I wished that I'd been doing aikido at their age. They did very well.
When our beginner children were tested I was uke for one of the five year olds. I had to get down on my knees for him to throw me. All during the test one of the children lined up next to us was confusing his right and his left. He had to be told repeatedly to switch his feet by Sensei, who smiled patiently each time. It was too cute.
While we were outside deciding who would get belts or stripes one of our five year olds appeared at the steps to the dojo with his mother. She thought that the tests were at 11:00. So her son will have to wait until June to test. As compensation for missing out he got to help with giving out belts.
After new belts or stripes had been awarded to the children, Sensei made some closing remarks of encouragement. He said that they were doing great and to continue to work hard and incorporate what they learn from aikido into their schooling and at play. Sensei then asked the boy who had confused his right and left to raise his left hand. He hesitatingly raised his right. When asked to raise his right, he raised his left. Everyone howled.
One of the parents of a newly awarded yellow belt student came up to me afterwards to thank us for our hard work. She said that
December 17, 2004, Ushiro Tekubidori Sankyo Surprise…(may I have sprinkles with that?)
I tested for 4th kyu last night. Before testing there was a regular beginner's class as per usual, but the nidan instructor focused on testing techniques. I'm glad that I went to the class not because I needed the review, but because it warmed me up and calmed my nerves a lot. I took ukemi for ushiro tekubidori kotegaishe and in doing so I landed on the outside of my left knee. It was fine during the test, but is a bit sore today.
There were four people testing for fifth kyu and as luck would have it I was uke for one of the first pair to test. I am not in as a good shape as I thought I was. I run three or four times a week, but I guess a different kind of fitness is required to take falls, protect yourself at the same time, and then get back up over and over again. I was a bit winded at the end of it. The other two tested for fifth after the first pair so I got to have a breather.
I barely watched the test. I just stared at the green wall in the background.
When Sensei called me to the front for my test I didn't feel a lurch in my stomach or anything. No butterflies. For my uke, Sensei chose the deshi, whom I had worked with a lot in my test preparation. As we knelt before the kamiza I gazed calmly at O'Sensei's photo, inhaled deeply, bowed, turned to Sensei, bowed, turned to uke and bowed.
Sensei started me off with suwari waza. My uke often confuses katat
I was the only person in the class last night that's testing this Thursday, so Sensei taught all 4th kyu techniques.
Tsuki irmininage is on my 4th kyu test. Last night Sensei showed four variations of it. I had only been practicing one. So I got a little bit nervous. I was told by a shodan to do the one I'd been practicing and the variation where you step off the line, block the tsuki with the outside hand and step in with the other arm straight into iriminage. I was having a lot of trouble with one of the variations, as was my shodan partner. Sensei demonstrated it several times for us, but I still couldn't get it. He wasn't pleased.
Ushiro tekubidori sankyo was another one that I had some trouble with last night. There's a "quick" version which I'd only touched on briefly in my practicing, but that is the one that he demonstrated last night. The "quick" variation, if you can picture it, is when you grab uke's hand as they reach for your hand and then tenkan under their arm, at the same time you're holding uke's hand in sankyo. And instead of making uke back up by applying your other hand to their fingers you just cut down and proceed to the pin depending on whether you're doing omote or ura.
Sensei was really watching me last night.
In the past couple of days I've been dealing with some personal/family issues. A year ago I would have let these things really get to me. I would've allowed myself to be eat
Before Saturday's children's class I walked into the dojo, bowed and headed to the ladies' changing room. On the benches sat one of our little aikidoka, a 5 year old, son of one of the nidans. His father was teaching the advanced children's class when I arrived.
I noticed that the child was not wearing his gi, so I asked him, "Where's your gi?"
"I don't know." He replied with big brown eyes, looking a trifle concerned.
I then went to the changing room. A few minutes later when I was putting on my hakama I heard sobbing in the dojo. His father and his assistant came over to him and asked what happened.
"I DON'T KNOW WHERE MY GI IS!!!" wailed the child. Sniff, sniff.
"It's in the men's changing room, buddy." His father said, a bit mystified about his son's sudden concern about the whereabouts of his gi. His father continued, jokingly, "If you give me a dollar I'll give it to you. Do you have a dollar?"
When his father was folding his hakama after teaching his class, I said that I had asked his son about his gi.
"Oh so you're the one who started it all." Smile.
At this point his son was happily scurrying around the dojo in his gi, chasing down the beach ball among the other children, having forgotten about what had happened only minutes earlier.
Before children's class started the deshi and I went over my test techniques. He urged me to learn 3rd kyu as well. Sensei likes to mix it up a bit apparently. A nidan whose son is in the children's class said that I was going to be the most prepared aikidoka in the history of testing.
As the children arrived we played with them, tossing a beach ball around while they tried to get it away from us. It was the first time in my life that I could hold a ball over my head out of the reach of anyone…being the shorty that I am!
When do children learn the difference between right and…left? It seems like I spent an inordinate amount of time last night telling them to switch their feet or hands. And it was even more…fun…when we did a cross hand technique. At least I didn't have to tie a single belt back on which is another thing we have to do quite a bit. They weren't as well behaved as last Saturday. Two of them had to sit in the corner for a while. But we were still able to go through all their test techniques and had time for a couple of games at the end of class…suwari waza tag and bunny hop wars.
After the women's class the shodan instructor and I went over my test. She did a couple of things differently from the deshi, so now I'm wondering which way to follow for my test. They have both said that what they showed me is what Sensei is looking for. Great.
I'm going to take the night off tonight. I'm feeling a
Weapons. We did 21 count jo kata again last night. After reviewing the kata we were told to imagine we were being attacked by several people which would help to get us beyond just going through the motions. When I tried to envision multiple attackers I felt like I had no control over the jo. I became tense and tired easily. (My imagination might be too active.)
When we were doing techniques with yokomen the instructor, a senior student, said to hold the jo loosely, not to grip it tight because then uke's body absorbs a lot of the shock from any blocks. When he was demonstrating the yokomen strike you could hear this "whoosh" sound. Very Cool. His technique is really crisp.
He said later that he is way more comfortable with weapons than he is with open hand techniques. He described the intensity of the Saturday morning weapons class which is conducted by one of the nidans. Someone got hit last week. Yikes. Some sage advice from last night… "block the incoming strike if nothing else." Kind of like when you're doing open hand techniques they say, "Get out of the way if nothing else."
At the end of class we did jodori. The outside of my left wrist has been bothering me for a while, so last night when I was grabbing the jo and he was applying a technique it really bothered me. I've been doing jo warm up exercises at home to strengthen my wrists since they're puny. It has helped a bit. In May we had Chiba Sensei at our do
During class last night we did more morote dori techniques…kokyunage, iriminage, udekime nage.
Sensei used me as uke for the first technique which was just doing the opening tenkan for the techniques with morote dori. When I grabbed his arm he looked at me and said, "Your hands are like ice. What's that saying? Cold hands, warm heart? Your hands are freezing." Smiling, I rubbed my hands on my hakama, then rubbed them together and blew on them to warm them up, drawing a chuckle from the aikidoka.
After class two of the senior students helped me with my test preparation. We treated the practice as if it were the test. My uke and I lined up in seiza and I was called to the front of the dojo, by the uchi deshi who was "Sensei" and then my uke was called. We bowed to O'Sensei, "Sensei" then each other.
The techniques were called out in no particular order. There were a couple of 5th and 3rd kyu techniques among the 4th kyu testing requirements that I am covering. At the end of my "test" we did the bowing in reverse and then some fine tuning suggestions were made. It went by quickly. And I have to say I feel fairly good about my readiness. I was also told that if for some reason I start doing the wrong technique, don't stop, finish it.
One of the aikidoka who was supposed to be testing for 1st kyu asked Sensei if he could take his test next year. He felt he wasn't ready. He returned to the dojo six months ago after bei
I went to the dojo on Saturday morning to help with the children's class. They were really good and worked hard. I was asked to help them with their rolls. One little guy kept getting dizzy. After he would roll, his head would loll around and he would stagger and fall flat. Then he'd get up and stumble to the back of the line and wait his turn to do it all over again. I instructed him to do just two rolls, one on each side, but he kept doing three or four. Maybe he was getting some kind of dizzy high. I asked him if he was alright and he just smiled and nodded…sort of…it was more like a circular motion, complete with eyes rolling to the back of his head, as opposed to an up and down motion.
At second class, which is for adults, we did the techniques for 5th kyu. I need to know those as well as 4th kyu just in case Sensei tests me on them too. My shomenuchi ikkyo sucks. I don't step off the line enough and have a tendency to move almost straight in. The rest of the techniques were okay.
Mom and Dad came over on Saturday evening and helped me decorate my tree. My first tree in my apartment! The people who live across the road from me have hung icicle lights around their roof eaves, in both trees on their front lawn and along the top of their front wall. When I turn out the lights in my apartment I can still find my way around, by the light coming from across the way.
Yesterday I auditioned for that play, "Wake". I don'
Okay it's official now. I've just been told that I AM testing on the 16th. You know the sick feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when something you think might be happening IS going to happen? I've got that. Just in time for lunch too.