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Keiko on saturday was f-ing rad. I was so tired from being up all night with baby and 2-y/o but once we started warming up before bowing in, I perked up. I got to see one of my sempai who doesn't usually come to the thursday classes I've been attending lately. I'm a little bummed I didn't get a chance to train with him, but it was good to say hi in person and see him in action.
I first became interested in Aikido in high school after reading up on some martial arts. A friend of mine knew this and when he was asked if he wanted to check out an Aikido dojo, he asked me if I wanted to come along. This was some time in the mid 90's. I remember the visit vaguely, but I clearly remember watching this sempai training and being told he was about to take his gokyu test. When I began training in 1998 he was training as hard as ever. Now, in 2012, he's still training hard and is one of the senior deshi who often travels with sensei. After class we talked a little about some of the folks we remember training with. Right now I'm a little fixated on how much time has gone by, and while part of me certainly feels a degree of loss for how much I've let slip by, it's even more interesting just to sit back and observe the people who have kept at it with impressive dedication. It's also interesting to see the students who started after me and see a bit of how they've progressed.
As for keiko itself, in taijutsu we worked primarily on ai hanmi katate tori irimi ura kokyu nage, starting with
Last night keiko was a blast. I went in feeling a bit tense and tired. Sleep isn't my strong point these days. My 6mo. old still feeds at night and my 2 y/o woke up the previous night twice with a bloody nose. Then I had some work a friend of ours gave me working on landscaping with concrete blocks, which reminded my back of its nagging aches. The problem with irregular work is the body thinks it's in shape until after it's worked a few hours. I'm not complaining! I loved digging around outside in the good NW weather (a mild, gray drizzle). Still, I had the moment's thought of, "laying down would feel nicer than Aikido." I was wrong though.
I showed up and began warming up. My left-side lower back was barking at me so I focused on loosening that up. Rolling practice is one of the best ways I know to do this so I did that a little. It reminded me of when I trained before: I would always start with a ton of them, going as fast back and forth as I could. It gets the blood pumping and gets me thinking "round." One of my sempai who I had been training with a decade ago asked me to come practice some taijutsu with him and he helped loosen things up quite a bit more. Osae waza does wonders to tight muscles!
Sensei started class so we "warmed up" then started with bokuto as always. We began some negaeshiuchi then went to kiridome. One of the interesting things to me is how tired my feet get from kenjutsu, particularly when I haven't been practicing much. It was nice to feel more
I have a lot of different thoughts rattling around my head about my training, and most of them are half-formed. I think my posts here have tended to reflect this. Driving home last night from keiko I kept coming back to a handful of thoughts. The most prominent of these wasn't so much a cogent idea as much as a new way of looking at the proportion of thought-to-action I have been manifesting. I have been very "mind-heavy" in my "gyo" and it has led to a very "body-heavy" way of moving. "Intellectually," I've recognized how stiff I am; how tight my shoulders are; how my chronic body aches and injuries are a sign of improper integration of...something. I understood it on a more visceral level last night.
Part of the reason I've been so mentally caught up in this idea of Aikido is that it represents a means which appears profoundly useful to affecting great effects in how one can live one's life. It provides physical stimulation for a healthy body, mental stimulation for a healthy mind, and when approached with a serious attitude, it refines these things to a razor-like edge. It is a way of organizing different functions of the mind and body (i.e. mind-body) and developing them into higher orders of function. The pressures we put ourselves through are a kind of gravity drawing things together, cooking them into new transformations, drawing them together, transforming them again and again until we have something diamond-like...or ore-like dependiing on how much intensity we app
Lately I've been reminded of the time I was paired up with a nidan for randori and not only couldn't perform a single technique, but was stabbed repeated until he made sure I knew what we were practicing and said, "...randori." "Yeah...I know," was my thought, "I just suck that bad."
People make too many generalizations.
Of course it's a natural part of learning and operating, but it is something that seems to make a lot of problems. It's based in presumption, which leaves a person somewhat more dependant on outside factors. In conversations it can distract from valid points; in fights is can get you hurt. My attraction to martial arts has to do with the general idea of awareness: both internal and external awareness; each one informing the other. One of the key aspects to this that comes to my mind is the ability to perceive subtle differences. When I was training regularly there wasn't an uchi deshi program at my dojo, but I often served similar functions (small parts of the role). I consider this kind of training to be very useful, even though there isn't often any kind of obvious "martial" technique/method involved, because it forces you to pay very close attention to what is going on around you; to read the needs and wants of the people around you.
Recently I read the chronicles of D'artagnan (didn't end anything like I guessed it would), and one of the characters, Athos, has a lacky named Grimaud whom he has trained to understand what to do in any situation without many, if any, verbal cues. It describes how Athos would make a slight gesture most people wouldn't even notice, but Grimaud would be able to figure out everything that would be needed.
Interestingly enough, the training was described as being very severe by today's standards. In s
"intellectual training, physical training, virtue training, ki training-these produce practical wisdom." He added that it wouldn't do for even one of these to be missing, that lacking any one of them would render everything for naught and inevitably slow one's overall development. One must, he told me, always maintain a harmonious balance among these.
This was borrowed from the link above. I read it and felt compelled to copy it on my blog because it seems to capture that certain je ne sais quoi of my raison d'etre.
When confronted by the simple truth of these words I can't help but know that my practice is definately lacking.
I'm sitting here bouncing on my exercise ball with my 2-month old son, watching the Daily Show and contemplating the fate of the world. You know, small stuff. After reading about nuclear disasters, watching a show on megaquakes, and watching politicians whip people into mindless sound-bite derived frenzies, it's hard not to worry about the fate of my two sons. Then I think about all the huge dreams I had as a younger man and compare them with the "lesser" realities I made happen (despite having had a lot of support), it becomes easy to get discouraged; to become a fatalist; to see 2012 as some doomsday period.
Life is complicated; life is simple. It's unfathomable in any real depth, and I sincerely believe we're just a bunch of big-brained (neurotic) apes slapping labels on things so our minds can feel like we have it figured out...at least, figured out enough...long enough for us to build a new tool with which to break more nuts to stuff in our gullets.
And this is where my idealism tends to kick in. I look at the roughly 11,000 years of history we've scraped together out of the sands of deserts (a blink's worth on the whole); I look at the astounding level of tool development we've acquired in the last 100 years, let alone the curve seen in the last 30; I see how my 2-year old learns things I thought he wasn't paying attention to and my 2-month old smiles at me almost every time I say hi (it's not gas!); I see people building themselves up and the (corny as it may sound