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Went to weapons last night. One of the shodans had to teach as our nidan instructor is nursing an injured lower back. He was told that he would have to get surgery on his herniated disc, but he went to someone he knows who does bodywork (who used to train with us) to get a second opinion. He's been on the mend since having her work on him for the last few weeks and doesn't think he'll need surgery. She told him that one of his muscles was causing the pain in his sciatic nerve and that the herniated disc wasn't the problem. He's going to have to train his body to move in certain ways so that the pain doesn't come back.
I think I had a breakthrough last night when doing one of the paired exercises. I don't know what it's called but it's the one I mentioned in my February 2nd entry where you and your partner practice blocking each other's shomen strike. Previously when I'd block I'd stop my masiuki motion when my partner's bokken would strike mine then I'd shomen. When doing the exercise this way my bokken would often strike my shoulder because I was doing two separate motions when they're supposed to be one motion. And of course timing is essential…as always.
I've been sooo bogged down with work and personal stuff that I wasn't able to train until last week. I didn't have time to make any new entries in my journal though. However, I hope to rectify that starting this week.
Last night we worked mostly on ushiro tekubidori nikkyo. Actually, that's the only technique we worked on. I was working with a big bulky man, who has had some aikido experience. He's only just started back after many years of being away. He was very tense and rigid. He commented that it felt like I was going to wrench his arm out of his socket whenever I pinned him. It didn't feel like that to me
A couple of times Sensei told me that I wasn't projecting enough to get uke off balance. When I'd take the step back I was pulling uke back into me after bringing my hands down in front of me. Doing that took away their forward motion. Then I'd get tied up trying to get nikkyo and grab their elbow with my arms all bent and uke right up in my ma-ai.
Sensei told us to concentrate on the kokyu ho. (Is that the right term?) If that's done properly then the nikkyo is right in front of you. And you can get at it without bending your arms and keep your ma-ai.
When I was working with the big guy he would just drop when I did nikkyo to him. I remember how I struggled doing nikkyo on men with very thick wrists. My small hands could barely hold their hand and I'd end up hurting my own wrist.
Boy, was I ever tossed around last night. The instructor, one of our nidans, loves doing funky stuff. Lots of circling motions. A whole technique spinning around and around. First one way then the other. It's all good fun though. Always an interesting class.
We started off doing a reversal exercise which made me really dizzy. Nage puts up their guard hand and uke grabs the forearm with both hands…nage tenkans and as uke comes around, nage grabs the forearm closest to them and becomes uke. It's kind of hard to describe.
So that was the opening for the rest of the techniques we did.
Using that opening, which I don't know the name of, we did nikyo as the first technique. My partner, a 2nd kyu, would resist when I'd grab his elbow to turn him over once he was down on the mat. He said to keep applying nikyo until he was as close to me as possible then grab his elbow. While training with him he let spill that the deshi calls me "Iron Arms."
Then the instructor called me up to be uke. As I grabbed his forearm he tenkaned then with his free hand cut under my arms to step across the front of me then round behind me to grab my shoulders for iriminage. He whipped me around like rag doll, but he eased up a bit on the throw. After only a handful of those I was sucking wind big time. I could feel myself get all flushed. But it was invigorating at the same time. (After class he said I'd done well.)
I feel like I'm getting back into the rhythm of training again. At the women's class last night I was uke for the instructor, the deshi. He was teaching because the regular teacher has been away for a few days.
Before the class there had been a children's class. One of the ladies has her son in the class and before he left with his grandmother he said, "Have a good class, mom. Pay attention."
When class was under way we did ushiro techniques.
During ushiro katate tori nikyo, my partner who's been training for about four months, asked what I'd do if she didn't let go when I grabbed her hand and elbow. In response I applied the technique with a bit of force, which I hadn't been doing.
Not the best response. I just wasn't thinking, I guess.
I thought about it later when I got home and it occurred to me that I could have explained that training from static gives a beginner certain misconceptions…like that they'd be able to hold on to someone's lapels while the person they were attacking was doing the technique. The fact is…it would be very difficult to hold on during ushiro. Well at least for me it's hard not to go flying. And why would you hold on? You're in an awkward position anyway. Why would you want to stay that way? My instinctive response when being uke for ushiro is to let go, but in order for both people to learn the connection needs to be maintained.
Anyways, hopefully I'll have a more appropriate r
During weapons last night we did bokken. I am really enjoying the weapons classes so far. We're being taught by one of the nidans.
After the warm ups we did suburi (sp?) from one to five. Then paired exercises.
My blocks are bad. They don't block anything. My fingers would be sliced right off. I don't turn my blade or my hips enough to block effectively.
My tsuki feels very awkward. The whole winding up with the hips and tsukiing doesn't feel "natural" yet.
However, I was told that my extension is good on my shomen.
The second last exercise we did was a form exercise. We did three then put them together into one. Step in shomen, step in tsuki, turn shomen, step in shomen, step in tsuki, turn shomen. Then step back shomen, step in tsuki, turn shomen…etc. Then he added a masiuki (sp?) and change in direction which totally confused me.
When the instructor did the whole thing through it looked so fluid and crisp…almost electric.
The final exercise is the one where you and your partner face each other, lower your center and practice shomen and blocking (as you block you move your torso to the side away from your partners blade). My shoulders got really stiff from this exercise more than any other.
I'm already looking forward to the next weapons class.
Last night at class I was the senior student. This has never happened before in a regular adults class. There were only three of us, myself and two fifth kyus. Sensei concentrated on basic techniques…shomenuchi ikkyo, nikkyo and sankyo…omote and ura.
One of the fifth kyus is VERY difficult to move. He's just not familiar with what to do for ukemi. He takes a step when he should be going down on his knee. Stuff like that. Or maybe I'm not doing the technique properly. Or maybe I let him lead me and sacrifice my technique.
It was the first regular class I'd been to in almost a month, so I was feeling pretty rusty. And to make me more aware of my flaws, some beginners were watching the class.
At the children's class on Saturday morning I led the warm ups for the instructor, the deshi. They were nice and quiet and dutifully followed instructions. They know I'm "no-nonsense". They are usually very chatty and fidgety. When they were lined up they sat up straight, kept their hands to themselves and did not talk. They even waited patiently while the usual stragglers made their way to the line after each exercise.
Before class I was tying the belt of one of the little boys. He's about six years old. I noticed that there were red spots on his gi.
I asked him, "What are these spots?"
He answered shyly, "Spaghetti."
During class it was noted by the deshi that one of our eight year old students had finally gotten his pants hemmed. They had been about five inches too long for him and were always dragging on the mat even though he'd folded them up. When asked who hemmed them… "Your mother? Your father? Your granny?" He shook his head each time.
"Did you do it yourself?"
I smiled and thought, "Now that's taking the initiative."
At Saturday's children's class we had three new students. A girl and her little brother and another little boy. I was talking to one of the new parents whom I'd met a few years ago. He asked if I enjoyed helping with the class and I said, "Yeah, I get to be Bad Cop."
At the beginning of class when the children were lined up in seiza some of them were slouching and talking. I barked to sit up straight and keep quiet. I looked at the parent I'd been talking to and he mouthed, "Is that Bad Cop?" I smiled and nodded.
In adult class there were a lot of new people. One of them was a big muscled 6' 5" guy whose arms and legs just flopped around. I was working with him for tai sabaki. Of course, I didn't move him at all. I'm 5' 1". How does one adjust to someone soooo much taller than them? Training with him is going to be fun.
Yesterday at the grocery store I saw one of the little aikidoka from our children's class. It doesn't seem to matter how much I tell him to sit up, be quiet, keep your hands to yourself, hurry up, stop talking, pay attention, fix your gi…he's always so happy to see me.
At ladies class last night two new people joined. Friends of mine. Long manicured nails, jewelry. I thought, "This is going to be interesting." They both did really well for their first time out and seemed very enthused afterwards. So hopefully they'll continue.
One of them commented on how her abs got a good workout. "Anything that's good for my abs is a friend of mine."
I was thinking about how our instructor, our only female shodan, has a great teaching demeanor. Very approachable and relaxed. I would be the opposite. Like a drill sergeant, I guess.
I hadn't taken any ukemi as I was out sick for two weeks. And boy, could I ever feel it. I was a bit tense and out of sync with our instructor. I was wondering what she was going to do instead of just going with it.
I disclosed to her after class that I was a bit relieved that there were new people in the class, because then she would cover basics and not toss me around too much. However, because there were new people she demonstrated to them what was possible to do with aikido.
I'm glad to be back training even though my cough is lingering a bit. Hope to be back in the swing of things next week.
I have been sick with a really bad cold since before New Years. I missed the first two weeks of training.
I've been doing some reflecting on my training since I returned last June. A thread in one of the forums mentioned what it meant to be "humble". I heard the following a couple of months ago from another MA practitioner who heard it from another. I'd like to share it.
"Humble people do not think less of themselves, they think of themselves less."
The above sums up for me what defines "humble" and describes my sensei to a T. He has for the last twenty five years or so been devoted to dispensing his knowledge to numerous students at our dojo as well as others he has visited.
His knowledge and friendship are his gift to us.
A few years ago I made a very brief return to training, but my mindset was not one that was conducive to receiving instruction. Where did this arrogance come from? An environment that fostered the ego. It's interesting to look back and realize how much that attitude crippled my ability to really learn.
I was told by the deshi that when he'd asked sensei if he could remove my name (amongst others) from the rank board, sensei said, "No, they all come back sooner or later." I'd been away for almost ten years.
I am only beginning to grasp the importance of openness and humility in training and daily life.