Tonight’s post is being pre-empted by a meteor shower. The quick version: Two awesome classes tonight, the first with Sensei, the second with Cyril. Both flew by. It’s great to have Sensei back. More later. Heading out to the back yard to stare at flying rocks.

No classes today (Sunday, day 10 of 16).

“The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your inner enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.”

Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei)
“The Art of Peace”

Tonight’s class was weapons. We usually focus on one weapon per class, and tonight it was jo (my favorite!). We did the first 12 jo suburi, and a combination of several at the end. I think I’ve only done 1 through 5 or 6 before tonight. I definitely had not seen the bigger swirling-the-jo-around techniques – those were fun!

I really like weapons classes, for the opportunity to work independently and slowly. It’s possible to focus on the mechanics, alignment, center/base, staying relaxed, breath, posture, and so on, without the rush of doing partner practice. I wouldn’t want to train like that exclusively, but it’s nice to be able to break things down and work on what you need to work on.

I also like that once I get something basically down, I can practice it at home on my own. (I keep a spare jo in the barn for that.)

Tonight I was really happy about most of what I did (not really lost at any point). I felt much more solid and settled than usual during the techniques. Between techniques, however, I caught myself being a bit busy and unfocused in the way I was moving. I’ve seen what that looks like in videos (it looks ridiculous and goofy), and have been trying to be more conscious of it. So tonight I tried my “being someone else” approach (see that blog post). Sort of “how might this look and feel if I were…?”  It worked beautifully. No “trying” just doing. And then feeling what it felt like to be doing things that way.

There was a second class tonight, normally for 2nd kyu and up, but tonight anyone could stay for it. I was very tempted, but also very tired. I would’ve been the only one below 4th kyu. I decided to stay if by doing so I would make an even number of students (6), but as luck would have it the number came out odd with me (7), so I passed on participating. Probably for the best, as I was really wiped out from little sleep and a very fast-paced day at work. It wasn’t until I was on the way home I remembered that I also had to get the barn ready for a feed delivery in the morning, so it’s a good thing I didn’t stay later.

Before I got horses, I got chickens as “practice livestock,” to see if I was up for the whole feeding-and-cleaning-every-day-and-night thing. I made some mistakes, and learned a lot. After a year, and still enthusiastic, I tore out trees, got the yard graded, put in a barn and fencing, and dove into horse ownership better prepared for having had that experience with the chickens.

In addition to being fun and worthwhile on its own merits, this two-week period of training at every opportunity (now at only day 5 of 16) serves a similar purpose. This time it’s to help me be more prepared for the Aikido Bridge seminar in January. And true to form I’ve made some mistakes and am learning a lot. A few lessons so far:

  • Do not take on any other projects. Like grocery shopping, laundry, or cooking food. Get that stuff out of the way well beforehand.
  • Do not make commitments that keep you up into the wee hours. Aikido on 4 hours’ sleep and 10 cups of coffee is way less fun that you might imagine.
  • Get plenty of sleep for at least the week before. Going into a more-intense-than-usual training period coming off a week of sleep deprivation is stupid.
  • Don’t plan anything at all in the evenings. Feed the critters, take a hot bath, go to bed with ice packs on anything ouchy.
  • Eat as well as possible. Living on snacks (healthy ones though they may be) is not a good strategy for having lots of energy and endurance.
  • Warm up and stretch in the mornings. Being tight and achy before class usually leads to guarded rolls and falls, which leads to more tightness and discomfort.
  • Remember what trigger points are, and how to use them.
  • Do not try to sneak in a few hours of extra work “in your spare time.” There isn’t any.

I’m sure there are more, but I’m too tired to think of them. Time for some stretching, a hot bath, and, well, 6 hours sleep. Sigh.