Re: Shodan is another start of Aikido?
Thank you very much for your comments and thoughtful opinions.
You are right. People look having changed after getting shodan.
They remember the waza and can teach them well to the kohai (lower-ranks and new-comers). For the promotion test, they can improve themselves. They can improve their waza, and by passing the test they gain confidence.
However if they change in a wrong way, they lose their modesty and sincerity and they are not what the other followers want to become.
The thing is that by being promoted, your mind and attitude should be promoted at the same time. If people respect you not because of your rank, but because of your personality, you shoud be glad. I hope we are polishing our minds by having keiko so many times.
If we aim at that, mind-polishing, and continue keiko, we will
be rightly rewarded whether we are kuro-obi, cha-obi or shiro-obi.
Kuro-obi people have the responsibility as models who can talk
to others and practice with them with respect.
Today, it is a nice day here in Tokyo although it was cold, raining yesterday.
I went to the dojo for keiko yesterday. When it rains, usually
people just don't come for keiko, but there were unusually many people there, probably because they were feeling relaxed before the
three holidays in a row waiting ahead.
There were so many that we were barely able to sit from the end of the tatami to the other end of the tatame to bow to the sensei and kamiza.
When dojo-cho (head master) comes to train us once or twice a year, at the end of the tatami, the line of us sitting bends at the corner along the other wall. The maximum number of people who can sit on the shimoza straight line is around 30. You know there are seven times six tatami mats in our dojo, and we sit along the
six tatami lines.
Five kuro-obi came (except for Sensei), two cha-obi and many
shiro-obi did. There were four women and three junior-high students.
We started with shomen-uchi irimi-nage. I paired with a woman
who started half a year earlier than me. I always thought that she was really good at irimi-nage because she always made me stand on tiptoe at the last moment and threw me down, which I cannnot do.
I asked her how she was doing it, and Sensei overheard us, because he has jigoku-mimi (hellish ears=very good ears). He came to us, I explained, then he said instantly, just raise your arm straight up. Yours is 45 degrees diagonally upward, and he demonstrated it with my partner and then with me. Ah, he made us spin like a top and tucked my throat into the space between his cheek and shoulder,almost choking it, cut it down with the arm to the mat.
You cannot escape from this ant-lion like technique. Can I? If in a real fight, I would be desperate and would do anything not to be caught at the back of the neck by his hand and might jump to the side out of his reach.
But I remembered that he had said once that in a real fight you
could catch your enemy's hair and pull him down to the ground. Fearful!, I thought because I still have some hair left although it is thinning.
Anyway I tried the way Sensei taught us a few times with my partner until he said "Yame! (Stop!)" and sat on the tatame for the next waza.
Ninety minutes past so quickly again. During the time of ocha (tea), the woman and I did some jishu (self-practice). We did some hanmi-handachi waza such as shomen-uchi ikkyo. Sensei, during the keiko, explained that you shoudn't keep watching your opponent's face when you do this. When your opponent hits you, you just look diagonally ahead and step forward on your knees very fast, grabbing the upper part of the opponent's elbow and pressing his wrist with your hand edge and pull him down.
Sensei said, "don't stretch your self by lifting your hip to take his hit. Don't change the level of your eyes. Just slide your body by shikko (knee walking). To me it was very very difficult.
And I realized that the basic walking and turning by shikko (on the knee walking) are very much needed when you do zagi (techniques while you sit) and hanmi-handachi(sitting versus standing) waza. The situations where we might be attacked are quite possible if you live in a Japanse house or stay at a Japanese-style inn where we often sit on the tatami, although we use chairs and tables in many places today.
I need to remember what he said and practice it many more times. It is a pity that I am really forgetful.
Well, after that we practiced the blending movements of the jo (staff). We did the jo-no-awase, from the first one to the seventh plus one extra called kimusubi-no-tachi (tying each other's attention with the swords), taking turns. Jo-no-awase is one of the skills tested on the shodan (promotion) shinsa (test) for shodan.
Sensi knows when to teach details about each technique. He never mentioned them in the first year or second year or until recently. He just said, "Practice and practice before you talk about the technique." He is right. We wouldn't have been able to do as he told us to, even if he had explained in such detail. We need to learn how to do ukemi and how to move properly with our partners before
we seek the completion of each waza, and he knows that it is the right time to teach me these things.