Day 62 in the Big Brother house...
Riding high on the wave of confidence that finally "nailing" Ikkyo gave me, I started todays session with much enthusiasm (at least in spirit. We wouldn't want anymore crying 40 year olds now would we). As time goes on with these sessions I'm coming to the realisation that this thread will mostly be about how my experience and perception changes over time, as opposed to the new and amazing techniques I learn. The techniques are there, yes, but there is such a depth to the theoretical underpinnings of this style that I feel the more interesting revelations will be of an intellectual or experiential nature.
This idea is exemplified by my most recent experiences. Today we started with the usual warm up, bokto work, and breakfalls, but we then broke out the jo staffs and were shown what I would call a movement, from the jo staff kata. It was simple enough and gave me no trouble. What it did do though, was illustrate the interconnectedness of the hands and the feet in a way I'd not previously noticed. Follwing this there were more jo staff techniques.
So following on from this we worked on some basic techniques and some slightly less basic techniques. Throughout the session everything seemed to just be "clicking" because all my techniques were ok. Everything seemed to be coming together as I was clutching onto this fragment or slightly less hazy image of just what it is I'm supposed to be doing in Aikijujitsu. All from the jo staff work and learning on a deeper experiential level the key element of hands and feet being connected and moving as one during all techniques. Much like people having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for maladaptive thinking patterns, the things I learn from direct experience in Aikijujitsu or anything else for that matter, I seem to learn on a much deeper and more intuitive level, which sticks. I've been told a million and one things in Aikijujitsu, and many of them I've remembered and I make a conscious effort to act on them. This "revelation" with the hands and feet feels nothing like that, and I don't think I could forget it if I tried.
We were shown one rather flash looking Ikkyo from a knife attack which was similar to something I'd learned in jujitsu, as well as another knife defense that was even more familiar. The main differences being the footwork, so fortunately I was able to spend that time mainly focusing on the footwork.
Ok, so after a few techniques we're all lined up in seiza as usual, waiting to hear what we're doing next, and I get called up to demonstrate Ikkyo. HA! Remember how awesomely I "nailed" it? Well on my first attempt in front of the whole class my mind was still in nage mode and so my poor uke didn't have a clue what was going on with the second half of the technique. After performing the technique gradually better and better as I remembered just what the hell this awesome technique I nailed was supposed to look like. Then it was Nikkyo. Now... nikkyo we did last session, but it was a complicated Nikkyo, so what I actually did was the wrist lock I learned at Jujitsu, the one that is actually Ikkyo (I just forgot to move off center for this style). In a nutshell I was crap.
At the end of the session I was told pretty much this, but that under pressure it can and does happen. There seemed to be some confusion too as my techniques during the sessions are ok (his words, not mine, ha). And on that basis I was awarded 5th kyu. I find it strangely fitting that I was awarded this at this particular time as I feel that my understanding and perception of the style have shifted somewhat. Now whether or not I feel like I am 5th Kyu standard is a strange question, as I've only been at the club a couple of months if that. During the sessions I am easily comparible to other Yellow belts, especially now with my "revelation". At the end of the day, the Sensei know what they want at each level.
Before the grading, I wasn't particularly excited about the grading for its own sake. This is due to wanting to get better, feeling that belt chasing isn't the best route, and knowing that belt chasing is practically impossible at this club unless... well unless you're just training to improve, and regularly at that. But then that wouldn't be belt chasing. Anyway I digress, I saw little significance. However, after being awarded the 5th Kyu, I was told something that made me think. It was "Now you have to try a lot harder". It was said in jest, but the other Head Sensei chimed in in agreement, indicating that more is now expected of me. The idea of having an increased responsibility to be "better" and try harder wasn't something that had ever crossed my mind. Take from that what you will, but I'd always seen training as just trying to improve, and reasoning that naturally you would become better and try harder as you progressed. At my jujitsu club I do feel I have this responsibility already, with there being so many new low grades that at times I can be considered a high grade (was refered to as such by Sensei). I hadn't considered this with my Aikijujitsu club and being at such a low grade, but I suppose it makes sense (interesting point, I'm actually 5th kyu in both styles, the difference being that my jujitsu club starts with 7th kyu as the first grading).
All in all an eventful couple of sessions. Looks like I can hang up the white belt for a little while too