I had a really good class at Aikido this week. It’s great to be back training again. I’ve been back on the mat once a week for a few months now, after a break of over two years. When I started again in the summer, I was shocked at how much I’ve forgotten over that period. This week I felt a little bit of my old flow creeping back. I’m stilling aching a bit more than I should after a full class, but I’m definitely getting stronger, so fingers crossed that all the physiotherapy and daily exercise has paid off.
When I achieved my 2nd Kyu (Blue Belt) back in 2001 I felt really fired up, and I was starting to get a really good flow to my techniques. It was the first time I had been able to start changing my actions depending on the reactions of the Uke (the attacker). This is (in my opinion) one of the key skills in Aikido. Before that stage, if the technique I was going for didn’t work, I was left floundering and at the mercy of the Uke.
I’m still have a lot of work to do to get back to that level and beyond, but on Wednesday’s class I felt a little glimmer returning. I think the key is that my body is dropping back into the movements with less conscious effort, freeing me to concentrate more on the reactions from the Uke, and less about where my own feet are. Also, I was working with two very different Ukes. Though both of them are 6th Kyu (White Belt), Sam is very loose and flowing, while James is stiff and intractable. This gave me a great insight into the mechanics of each technique. With Sam I could concentrate on the flow and speed of the technique, while James forced me to concentrate on the tiny movements and details that add real power to the techniques.
Also, Sam’s own techniques are very loose and open, to the point of being sloppy at times, while James tends to over analyse the mechanics of a the movement before he even begins. It was very enlightening to feel the effects of these different styles, and immensely rewarding to be able to give them both suggestions and corrections to help them improve.
I’d love to be able to attend the course with Sensei Hayden Foster on 23-24th October, but that is only a week before my wedding. I doubt I will have the time, and I know for a fact that at the moment there is no way my body could cope with 7 hours of Aikido in two days.