In the run up to Summer School 2007, I was concerned about my fitness levels and whether my knees would last the whole week. To my relief, my fitness and knees have held out, and I also have energy in reserve.This is partly due to pacing myself both as tori and uke, and also by me changing my general fitness regime.
During the daily sessions I picked up a few tips and tricks, which have helped with my application of techniques. I noticed this when I was persuading Edward not to stab me, repeatedly.
My thanks goes to Ed for ukeing for me (how is the jaw and legs now?)
As for the weapons grading?
Bokken kata – my centre I dropped slightly, balance was still slightly on the back foot when I started, in a couple of years time I might just get that right.
The Shin-Gi-Tai tai-gi – started wrong so stopped and started again, which flowed very smoothly from my point of view. The sequence was right, and my emphasis was on moving my body (if I hadn’t Ed would have mowed me down).
My 22 Jo Kata felt smooth and controlled, I did not rush through it, but my pace felt just about right, targeting seemed to be in the right vicinity of where they should be. Didn’t think that there was anything fundamentally wrong with it either.
My knife taking felt controlled, although I had to repeat one technique due to a fundamental mistake, but I did ask nicely for the knife, when Ed was safely on the ground under my control.
Five takes was asked for, six were demonstrated, sankjo from yokomen slash (double wind up version), and sankjo from shoman stab (normal version) in addition to tsuki kote gaeshi, tsuki rokyo, yokomen slash shionage, and yokomen stab gokyo, I was having fun.
I have been doing Aikido since January 2003, and working towards this day since I started. There is an annoying growl in my subconscious telling me that I have to move my body, it is in the body movement that the power originates the hands are secondary, move and don’t freeze, and I will be fine. Ha the voices are talking to me this year, I will be listening to them, unless they start to argue amongst themselves. If they start shouting at me, I am in big trouble.
My biggest concern? Understanding the accents but that has been part of the conditioning all week, will the nerves cause me any problems, I think the voices can go and play with them to keep them out of the way until 5pm tomorrow night.
Friday grading session – this year’s the grading went back to the traditional way of having individuals standing up and performing the called techniques. I was nervous when I stepped out onto the mat before the warm up session, but the nerves calmed down once I started to warm up. Not thinking about the grading helped.
I took the option to wear my contact lenses so that I would be able to see in full focus, but I shouldn’t have bothered as during the hamadashi techniques my right eye received a finger in it which resulted in me losing the contact lenses. As this was early in the day, I spent most of the grading with corrected vision out of the left and blurred vision out of my right eye.
For me the uncertainty that arose from having to sit and wait between being called up for the next set of techniques, and whether I would be called up again. The grading for the 1st Dan started about 10:30 and went on to about 1pm. The grading results were not published until after 4pm, which I am glad that I passed, although it seemed a long time when the examining panel went off the mat to make their decisions to when they came back on the mat to award the grades.
Now that it is over I look back and wonder if there was anything that I could have done differently (apart from landing on Ed in my randori – I hurt my shoulder), looking at the pictures has helped me to see where there are weaknesses that need to be addressed. There were some silly mistakes that I knew I made at the time that will be rectified. The pressure is now off I have proved to myself that I am a competent aikidoka, and now I can take things relatively easy. This rattler is going back under his rock and is waiting for the next reason to uncoil the inner power and strike at the next goal.