Location: Philadelphia, PA
Join Date: Sep 2015
3rd kyu craziness
Here are some recent excerpts from my two blogs. As many of you know, I'm an older student (50 years old soon), teach yoga in addition to my IT support job, and study Aikido:
January 27, 2018 - Aikido class 272 - 14 students. We practiced many different entering movements involving static Shomenuchi and flowing Morotetori that were preparations for two variations of Shomenuchi Ikkyo Ura to Kokyunage (Henka Waza) and Morotetori Ikkyo Ura. I believe the static Shomenuchi illustrates where your Ikkyo point of contact is supposed to be as uke tries to overhand strike you. If this were a flowing movement, you would have to be fast enough to meet your uke at the point of contact. I made it a point to practice with all of the different body types in class, focusing on ukes who were taller and stronger than me, such as Ed, John, Garland, and Ken1. After class, Ken1, Keith, and I were called up for my 3rd kyu exam. During the exam, I caught myself doing things I felt I could've done better, but I also ended up doing things that I didn't even acknowledge I did until after I did them. I was like, "Wow, did I just do that?" I didn't have time to congratulate myself; I just kept moving forward. It was as if I was just doing everything by instinct, or "muscle memory" as Ken1 calls it. I was up late last night, didn't sleep much, and didn't eat or drink anything or take my allergy meds and vitamins in the morning as I normally do, so I was running on reserve energy. Halfway into the test, I started feeling fatigued. Instead of feeling defeated, I took a deep breath and continued. "I'm just going to relax and finish the rest of this practice run," I said to myself calmly. I got my second wind. Some of the techniques I did just once on each side, most others twice. I had issues with my Morotetori technique in the last practice run, but I cleaned them up this time. Before class, I walked up to Ken1 and showed him a "new" way of doing Morotetori Iriminage. "I have my arm up. Now grab it. As I sink down and forward, I'm also going to atemi you," I said, as I quickly darted a fist towards Ken1's face, causing him to tilt his head back. It was a nice opening movement that utilized my past experience with Kung-Fu. I figured that the point of all of these techniques is to take uke off-balance, so the easiest way to do so in that case is an atemi to the face. During my exam, I had that same intention of atemi'ing Ken1's face, but I didn't dart my fist forward. My intention and body language caused Ken1's head to tilt back and I then proceeded to do the Iriminage technique. For some reason, my body was flowing in many of these techniques and I felt almost as if I was not controlling my own body in these movements because the old me would've made extra, unnecessary steps here and there. "Throw from the hip! Throw from the hip!" I kept hearing John say in the back of my head as I threw my ukes effortlessly. When the test was over, I still had a lot of energy left. "Congratulations, that was a great test!" Sensei announced to the class. Everyone applauded. I'm now a 3rd kyu Aikidoka! I remember the first couple of practice runs. I was crazy nervous and kept messing up, enough for an automatic fail. The next two times, I calmed down a lot with no real expectation of passing or failing. This time, I felt so tired I let my instincts take over my body. There were 19 techniques to demonstrate, so this was the longest of all the kyu exams and, in order to pass it, I knew I had to stop using so much strength and tiring myself out, especially against two bigger, stronger ukes.
Needless to say, I was on a natural high after class! I had a big lunch and didn't feel hungry for dinner, so I didn't eat dinner.
January 28, 2017, 9:00am - yoga class 706 - The morning after I completed perhaps the most challenging test of my martial arts life - my 3rd kyu Aikido exam - I decided to take a Bikram class in Bikram Yoga Northern Liberties, arguably the hottest, most sweat-inducing yoga studio in the city. I had shaky knees to start, so I was already at a disadvantage. My breathing exercise and the first two poses were pretty good. For Eagle, I decided to go through my Eagles Series. Jackie stood behind and to the left of me and noted that what I did looked very smooth and beautiful. Sandy noted before class that my Eagle is excellent. Unfortunately, the lack of food and sleep over the past few days took its toll on me and the rest of my practice was haphazard. I couldn't even muster enough energy to do a single set of some poses. That was very unlike me. I didn't get my second wind until Rabbit pose. If others were looking to me for inspiration today, I couldn't give it to them. Not today. Sandy admitted that I made her day by being in her class. After class, I was dizzy and lost my hearing for an hour and a half, which was quite frightening.
When I would talk, it sounded like I was in a fishbowl. My left ear was not working. My right ear was at half volume.
January 28, 2017 - Aikikai of Philadelphia Winter Seminar with Janice Taitel - This year my dojo had the distinct pleasure of hosting Janice Taitel from Aikido Center of Dover to teach the winter seminar. Janice has been a friend of the dojo for many years and is one of my favorite sempais from the seminars we've attended together. Today's seminar was very well-attended with 18 students on the mat and four more watching from the sidelines. I watched the tail end of it and joined everyone for dinner afterwards. I was really hoping to participate in and document this great event, but dehydration, exhaustion, dizziness, and headaches prevented me from doing so. Earlier in the day, I had lost my hearing for an hour and a half after my yoga class, which was very scary. I felt faint and a massive headache during dinner and had to excuse myself from the festivities. Luckily, the dojo was right around the corner. Sensei escorted me to the dojo and I fell asleep on the dojo couch. Other students came by to see how I was doing. Sensei stayed with me for almost an hour and a half as I took my nap and got into a more stable condition. He even walked me home to make sure I was all right! I kept thinking what a great man Sensei is for doing all of this. I didn't come from a stable family situation, so it was nice to have people watching out for me.
January 29, 2017 - Last night, my blood pressure was pretty high for me: 167/102. This morning it's 149/96, still a bit high for me. Hopefully, it'll drop down to a more normal 135/90. My bottom number has always been a tad high. I have not had a more event-filled weekend in recent memory. Hopefully, with some rest, I'll feel better today.