Session number 9.
What can I say? It was great for all of the reasons I've enjoyed the previous sessions, and then some. I've been a little under the weather for the past few days but managed to pick myself up and get to training tonight, and I'm almost frightened of how much I would have missed out on if I didn't...
Second session with the hakama and I've forgotten how to tie it, and so spent much of the session adjusting it. It does look pretty sweet though, as I had a look in the mirror today for the first time (not ever.... but wearing the hakama
). After the usual warm ups minus sumo squats, we did the usual bokto wrist and cutting exercises and with the latter I feel I made a considerable leap by simply sinking my weight more at the end of kesagiri (diagonal cut).
Ok, following that was the main bulk of the session as usual, but today Sensei decided to look at a few things from the syllabus for yellow and I think orange also (5th and 4th kyu, our first two kyu grades). Of course for obvious reasons my ears pricked up at the sound of "syllabus" and as I expected they don't go through it often in a systematic fashion, though she also said that we do need to know them at some point or another. I think you may also be able to get a copy of the syllabus if you request one, though as I'm enjoying the refreshing change of pace and focus, I don't think I will.
The first thing we worked on was a rather peculiar walking exercise where the steps kind of slide out in circular sweeps, with little heel turns at the end (though done with the hip and most weight on the back leg). I can see how it could be useful, and I think I remember Sensei saying that shihonage was in there though that may have been with something else. We worked on this for long enough for me to get the gist.
Following on from that we did something called "go no sen" which means "late early" or something like that. The principle of this is one that has been constantly drilled into me since beginning my training here, and is simply that once they have grabbed you it is too late (and another technique is required). The grab can be analagous to a punch also. What we did to practise go no sen was a simple tai sabaki at the instant the attackers hand made contact. We couldn't move too early as we kind of wanted them to just about make contact and then use that to our advantage. Very subtle, and it was nice to spend some time looking at that concept exlusively. Well almost exclusively, as I found a chunk of my cognitive processing being concerned with the all pervading tai sabaki. I asked a question about it as I was training with a friendly nidan, and he very kindly showed me that it was a simple tai sabaki I'd already learned, just with a sliding step forward first.
The third item we looked at from the syllabus was described as an exercise that is also a technique. Essentially from forearm to forearm contact, tai sabaki out of their field of vision and do a spirally descending throw thing. I forget the name, but apparantly the yakuza use this same basic technique when working in groups to get people on the ground. Now for this technique I was working with the awesome Godan Sensei (YES!) and I was more than chuffed when he picked me out very decisively. Now, I'd seen this technique I think in my first session, I'd have to check my posts to be sure, so I had some understanding as I'd tried it previously. As 'always' though my level of understanding of Aikijujutsu techniques compared to Awesome Godan Sensei's, doesn't really deserved to be called understanding. Again, from the limited time I had with him I learned an immense amount. I was 101% focused on what he was communicating to me, and what I was trying to do. It paid off as I was pulling of the technique pretty well at least on one side, and ok on the other, and he seemed to notice and appreciate the effort. So many things to take in. I especially liked the fact that this technique requires you to move like a ninja and exert no real force. There's no grabbing for anything either (obviously with it being this style), but rather just letting your hands fall at the right spot. Also, I learned more about the nature of our Aikijujutsu in that any perceived tension or force or fluctuation of energy (for example an inconsistent movement that slows down or speeds up) is bad, as this sends signals to your attacker which they will instinctively act upon with resistance. I'd been told this before, but the specific technique he was referring to revealed another dimension. Great stuff!
Ok next up from the syllabus was a defence against a "wrist grab" which of course can be used for other things. Simple tai sabaki, and a not so simple tai sabaki using the cutting motion. I've done this one maybe 4 times in total now, and this session I had it down. My partner was another friendly and helpful nidan, so I was confident my technique was in capable hands. Not much to say about this one really. Nailed it
. I remained focused though and just put the reps in, and we both had a really good go at it because of how efficient we were.
After that I was working with the first nidan again (yudansha ftw!) working on shihonage. Remember that revelation I had regarding the footwork for shihonage? Well yes, I was correct. My entry into shihonage looks great, feels great, and is effective. The actual footwork OF shihonage is another matter entirely, and where I currently fall down (not literally, though I do have to watch my hakama, lol). I do really like this technique, and I experimented a bit with sinking even lower, and that just makes it more effective. On much shorter people I'd have to be able to do that anyway. There was some interesting discussion about the two different ways we do shihonage at our club; one with our arm mirroring (and underneath) ukes arm, and one where we simply "hold" (but not really hold as its simply resting it between the thumb and forefinger) the elbow joint. I think it boiled down to the positioning of the elbow dictating effectiveness. More work on the footwork for me, but other than that I have it down. All in good time
Sixth technique, sixth yudansha
. Ikkyo. Ikkyo... I cannot do Ikkyo. It looks so simple, but I just have'nt physically been able to do it. I tell a lie, I have a couple of times today when I've had the head instructor (rokudan) watching and pointing little bits out, but on the whole I suck brutally and without logic at this technique. I'm going to do some serious research, which will be difficult as "the internet generally sucks at Aikido (its pointless to say aikijujutsu because no one really does it in the west, and aikido tends to be closer than the styles that say they do)". I'm a beginner and even I can see some of the glaring deficiencies in their technique. Anyway, I suck at Ikkyo.
After that, I was uke for a demonstration of a technique I don't remember by the second friendly helpful nidan, and then uke for a shihonage related demonstration by Awesome Godan Sensei. During this I was complimented by the head instructor on my breakfalling, and afterwards I was complimented on the same by the helpful nidan. And yet more breakfall compliments at the end of the session. This pleased me for the obvious knee jerk ego reasons, as well as the fact that it means they know I'm robust enough to train with freely without having to worry about my wellbeing, and thus 'compromising' their training. This brings me to my next point and the thing I'll remember most about this session. It may seem a bit vain to say this, but I do feel that everyone I trained with today really enjoyed training with me. Not just because it was more or less said afterwards, in a convincingly genuine mannar, but because I could literally see them enjoying the training more than I'd seen or noticed in the past. Now of course this could just be that they're pleased to see me progressing, though on a related note it could be that simply being more able, makes it more enjoyable to train with me.
At the end of the session, much like the previous session, two students were called up and awarded their 5th kyu. This kind of ties in to my thread Unecessary Confusion- http://www.planetjitsu.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=18485
where I'll probably expand on this a bit, but due to the club currently not having any yellow obi in stock, one of the two recipients was actually already 5th kyu and had been for some time
Much laughter ensued
Lastly, after packing away the mats I received a ton of compliments on my progress, even from the two instructors. I get the feeling that if I had a license (I should have got one this session or last, as theirs covers new students for a month) I may have been graded either this lesson or last. I'll probably get a license sorted at my next session. I definately wish to continue training at this club.