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My "nightly" practices have flagged a bit. After a series of birthdays, camping trips, and a few different kinds of employment-related stress, I've noticed I haven't been as gung ho to go out and practice. This week I've been a bit better though. The last few nights I've practiced for about an hour each; I've also been trying to make it a point to think more about how I'm using my body throughout the day. The night before last, I was going at it more vigorously than I thought because last night certain muscles in my chest were sore. It's related to the way I tend to cut with my left arm; I tend to squeeze/slide my humorus against my body...probably with too much muscle tension?
Last night and the night before I tried to focus on balancing the left and right sides of my chest and shoulders, which seemed to relax my neck so it felt more like it was a helmet balancing on a stick (the image I try to have in mind). Barrish Sensei has told me a few different times that one feeling I should strive for is to be ready to head-butt aite at any moment. This means (and/or seems to mean) relaxing the upper torso and generally "sitting back" in my posture a bit more. So for a while I tried to do suburi with this feeling of activating my upper spine and head; experimenting a little with shomenuchi and yokomenuchi strikes. I tried little rotations of the head while doing this to see how it affected the line(s) of tension. As usual, I thought I saw some interesting dynamics, but not quite s
Today was a gorgeous day! I arrived early so quietly made my way to the changing room as Chyohai (daily ceremony) was finishing up. I helped put away the "shrine stuff" and sweep the mat before stretching and lightly warming up for keiko. We went outside because of the wonderful weather; down to the river. An island of river rocks was formed by the low river, so we kicked off our sandals and shoes and waded through the cool water to the small island before beginning an abreviated warm-up. Sensei went through a few different sequences of movements. They still feel very new to me, but slowly, bit by bit, I feel more familiarized with the different parts. I had a great time barefoot and swinging a stick around. You definately notice your feet more! The cool water was even more refreshing on the way back to the haiden.
There was a request for "gyaku hanmi katatetori kokyu ho," and after so much time spent outside we spent the remaining time working on this, first from suwari, then from tachi. I was trying to be mindful of the feeling of wrapping aite's head (how I was thinking of it, at least). I was with a newer student and one of the things that's real nice is that they don't always go where expected...although in this case it was because he was stiffening up. I had control of the situation through superior positioning, but my connection wasn't in full control, so it forced me to be more present in order to make it work. Once I got my partner to start activating the other si