Aikido: My Triumphant Return

Earned the rank of rokyu (6th kyu) on January 26th.

Got bronchitis and missed two weeks of class. Almost went back on February 6th, but was exhausted and not into dealing with the inclement weather. Last week, I was in Columbus. So, yesterday, I attended aikido keiko for the first time as a rokyu, after having missed lots and lots of class.

As an aikidoka with rank, I am now not only permitted but required to wear hakama during practice. Luckily, there was a loaner hakama available, as I hadn’t ordered mine yet. Phil was kind enough to show me how to tie the hakama (which is quite the production, let me tell you). I was being frank with Phil-san when I informed him that the whole process would be a lot easier if I didn’t have boobs getting in the way. I don’t think he quite knew how to react to that.

I actually felt a lot more… at ease? Normal? Accepted? Clothed? …while wearing the hakama. I hadn’t realized that part of my unease in class had been the fact that I was dressed differently than most of the others. I consider it a giant stroke of luck that I didn’t trip over my hakama once during class — which, incidentally, was taught by one of the yudansha (black belts), as Sensei was out of town.

My loaner hakama did give me some neat bruises, though. There’s actually a rigid plate in the back, called a koshiita, which Phil told me is supposed to protect your lower back. All it did for me was give me bruises on my back, on either side, just above my ass. Fantastic.

As for class itself, we did a lot of rolling. While I am getting better at taking rolls, especially from my left side, it does still make me dizzy and nauseous. We also did a little work with the jo (staff), which was totally new to me. During our warmup, Phil led us in a jo exercise with which I wasn’t familiar; it looked like everyone else knew it perfectly well, though. I had a hard time following along and reminding myself that Phil was NOT a mirror.

After class, I finally got to participate in the folding of the hakama. The whole class gathers by the edge of the mat and removes their hakama (hakamas?), and folds their hakama on the mat while chatting and having a grand social time. Petra was kind enough to help me out with the removal and folding and tying of my hakama; I would have been totally lost without her help.

Aftermath? Sore everything. Shoulders, arms, sides, back, abs, ass, calves. My abs and arms/chest were already sore from Monday’s and Tuesday’s homegrown workouts, so it’s hard to tell how much is aikido and how much is my other workouts finally catching up to me. What I can ascribe to aikido, though, are the bruises. The nifty matching ones in the back from the koshi plate, and the ones on my wrists from grabs (ryote-tori: two-handed grab, one on each wrist; katate-tori: one hand grabbing one wrist; and morote-tori: two hands grabbing one wrist).

So, yeah. Successful, if exhausting. Thanks to another business trip, this time to Chicago, I won’t be attending keiko again until after the Weapons Seminar on March 1st. So, I’ll have to really start training hard after that to be ready for Gleason-sensei’s visit at the end of March. He’s teaching a gasshuku, an intense weekend of aikido training, and I’m worried that I might not last the entire weekend. I’m going to give it my damnedest, though.

I’ll have to bring my camera to the dojo and take a picture of my name up on the wall, with the other students’. I’m officially a rokyu. That was fun to see.