One Hundred and Sixty-six
Ahh, definately not the uke I once was. My attacks have slowed with age though there has been no ebbing of intent; and while I still take ukemi for my students every class I notice that I don't bounce up the way I used to. It's more of a rolling "ease yourself up from the mat son" type of motion now.
I feel that it's important to keep taking ukemi for as long as I am able. How else am I going to feel the progress of my students? So much of what we do is internalized that just looking only tells me part of the story. By feeling their technique in response to my attacks I am able adjust my instruction for each student individually.
Experiencing connection as uke enables me to push students to their limits, and then just a little bit further so as to help them grow into their power. I love it when I go to stop a student's technique and am treated as just another uke, taken off balance and sent to the mat.
When I turned forty I somehow convinced myself that I was getting too old to fall. Thankfully, Mary banged me on my head a few times and with a few choice words quickly dispelled me of that notion. Twenty-three years later I'm still grateful for that.
(Original blog post may be found here.)
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