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So my old weapons bag died, so I bought a shiney new one from nine circles, a purple one with "In a state of perfect meditation, free your mind from worldly thought, like a clear perfect mirror or motionless water" written on it in kanji.
All very nice.
But I've noticed something. Before when I had a plain black weapons bag everyone assumed I was an angler. Now they assume I'm a mass muderer!
I'm sitting on the train on my way to training. There's me and two other people in my section of the carridge, do I get my ticket checked? No, I get a slightly worried look off the dude, who's doing the whole "I'm not scared, honest" thing. I get off the train and people are all but running away from me. I answered the phone and the guy infront of me nearly jumped out of his skin.
The other day I'm walking back from training through town and I can feel eyes on me so I look around, and there's like 15 people eyeballing my weapons bag like meercats.
Everywhere I go people watch me like I'm about to do a zatoichi impression.
Walked into a pub, again on the way home, cuz I was about to wee wee myself and there's three guys at the bar and the first one says. "Are those samurai swords?" So I just nodded.
I feel a change in my Aikido in the past couple of weeks. It's always been described as short sharp and nasty, but I never felt it.
Reccently though it seems to have stepped up a level or two in terms of sheer nastiness and power. My irimi nage is now basically about taking ukes head and bouncing it off the mat. It's no less Aiki, I'm not stiff or muscling the technique but from somewhere I've found power and my technique has changed to be inherently more brutal.
I know why it's changed, I'm annoyed. I'm annoyed that "You were all borderline on the day, but I like him so I passed him" has become respectable post grading feedback. I'm annoyed that kyu gradings are treated as an inconvenience.
I can't express how much of an impact that day has had on me. I feel like I've spent five years dreaming and then woken up after falling out of bed. Hierarchy no longer exists to me. If you have something useful to teach I'll listen to you, if not I treat you no different than I would out in the real world.
Commonly this is refered to as an attitude problem, this post actually demonstrates all of this. Seems strange to me how I have "issues with authority" and yet for so long I've basically been a zombie.
If my instructor had said to me five years ago "I and only I will grade you up until 4th kyu" I'd have concluded he was part of a mickey mouse organisation and gone back to TKD or Ju-jitsu.
They worry about student retention and slipping standards but they don't actually c
I'm not sure about yesterday's grading. I feel hard done by. Getting an uke who is twice your body weight (300lbs maybe) who resists every movement you make isn't fair, not in a grading.
Sensei says that's the luck of the draw and no doubt on wednesday he'll have a list of things that need to be "improved" but the long and the short of it is that I have lost faith.
I don't believe that if I carry on training as I do now that I'll be able to overcome that much resistance no matter how long or hard I train, not within a grading setting, there's too much restriction.
If uke resists me in an open setting then I can switch technique and use atemi. You can't do that in a grading, so you fail.
So, what to do? If I retake it in march and get a smaller or more co-operative uke and pass I'll feel like I cheated. It's like saying "I can only pass if I'm allowed to". For my own peace of mind I need to pass the grading with a big resisting uke.
I'm going to go and see some other instructors, who have big students and work on my striking skills and basically work my ass off until march, get some running done too while I'm at it.