Aikido for Wednesday 10/24

When I read on the dojo blog that we would be focusing on weapons training leading up to the weapons seminar in mid-November, I thought that maybe this class would be a little less strenuous than the previous week’s keiko. After all, it wouldn’t be an entire hour of standing up and being thrown down. Right?

I had no idea how wrong I was.

We separated into ranks, with the mukyu and some new rokyu perfecting a basic solo exercise while the higher ranks faced off with one another. Basically, we faced the walls, chose a knot in the wood as our opponent, and swung the bokken diagonally up, behind / over our heads, and diagonally down the other side, attacking our chosen knot. Very basic form, just getting used to how the weapon should feel and where the energy should go. It was a very powerful feeling, though, once I got the hang of how low my stance should be, where my weight should stay, how my center was supposed to drive the movement, that sort of thing.

Then the cardio kicked in, along with the arm fatigue. And the wrist funkiness. Holy crow, what a workout. My hand and arms are still weak and shaky (to my embarrassment in Zen practice later).

Then we did the usual throwing and rolling. I actually started being almost comfortable with my lame bastard forward rolls, with the occasional flub. At one point during that exercise, one of last week’s scabbed-over mat burns on the top of my foot started bleeding, and I had to take a breather to hit the first aid kit.

After the rolling, we worked on everybody’s favorite, irimi nage, except this time uke begins with a wrist grab before running around behind nage to (try to) grab his other wrist. Nage then ducks under uke’s arm and performs the irimi nage I know and love.

A note: I love working with Rich-sempai. He’s one of those who is always smiling, always seems to be enjoying himself, but won’t half-ass the technique. If I’m supposed to be moving him and driving him to the floor, he’s not going to just flop down and say I did it right. He’s going to require me to put the energy into the movement and feel how it’s supposed to go. He’s also good at subtly indicating which way the energy should be going, if I’m unsure about a technique. I always learn a lot when I pair up with Rich.

After Sensei told us to switch partners, I had to sit out a round. I was just so exhausted, and my legs were jelly. We wrapped up with a suwari-waza (kneeling) tenshi technique that I didn’t know, and I watched another mukyu work with Amy-sempai’s brother until class was over.

So, in a nutshell, this class kicked my ass in a very serious and cardio-based way.

After keiko was zen practice. In the zendo, I saw that Sensei’s H2 digital recorder had come in, and I casually wandered over to see it. Apparently, my interest in and knowledge of the existence of the device projected my ability to fake my way through operating audio electronics. I’m cool with that; I actually kind of wanted to play with it, anyway. I ended up being the designated recording engineer for the evening, which was fun. I’m curious to see how our first attempt worked, since I didn’t want to sully the earbuds with my personal funk, and I didn’t let Sensei know that I’d figured out how to work the playback feature.

We ended up recording Teisho and our Dharma Discussion afterward. I hope they came out OK. I’m anxious to help them get a podcast going, and to help edit if necessary. I’m all about the new media revolution. I’m also all about feeling important, to be honest, which is kind of contrary to the zen-ness (a.k.a. “Buddha Nature”) I’m trying to discover in myself.

I also discovered something else about myself tonight: when the other party in a conversation is very calm and accepting and doesn’t offer much feedback about what I’m saying, I don’t know how to continue. I’m used to people giving me cues as to what they think about the topic, even if it’s just boredom or disinterest. But this attentive calmness is disconcerting to me. I’m not sure how to react to it, since I do not yet possess this calmness. I’ve never been good at conversation, honestly, but I’ve gotten good at faking it over the years. This reaction of calmness and acceptance is something I haven’t learned how to react to, and it makes me feel all bumbly and teenaged again.

Next week, Sensei will not be at the dojo on Wednesday, so I think I’m going to attend Monday’s keiko instead. Sure, an hour and a half of aikido will well and truly kick my ass, but I think I’d rather attend a class run by Sensei than one of the senior students. No offense, guys.