I was a bit happy last week when we had a gathering of seniors to practice. Culminating towards Sensei's visit this June I guess. But once a month to gather everyone is really pathetic. Not to mention of course that half the time they'll be training with the beginners in my dojo. Still I do like the fact the practice becomes more intense when the 'outsiders' come in. In a way its a treat.
Still what came after is deflating. Without going into it, I'd want to remind myself that as budoka, its expected for us to go against the odds. Sure a big part of martial strategy is to create winning strategies. Zanshin embodies that concept. The understanding of maai effectively puts that into practice. But in a situation of utter hopelessness, we do not abandon hope. We do not curl up and surrender. We sink our center, tighten the guts, calm our hearts and cut forward. Yet, to be confronted by people who wither away before even the sound of war drums can heard, is utterly mind boggling. What are they doing here in the first place? Tagging along for the fun of it?
Well enough of that. I was thinking I discovered another secret the other day. I was thinking it was possible that a method of extension is imagining your center in your hands. I thought it worked well, but on some people it just didn't happen. Maybe I got it all wrong but I'm going to keep trying it as I move along. Afterall, Sensei said that Kenji Ushiro can displace his center at will. I still don't understand that but... hey here's hoping.
Then quite recently we've been practicing hara projection more and more in class. Not the drills sensei left me because its too difficult for the beginners (actually its pretty difficult for me, so it'll be pointless for the blind leading the blind right?) so I did a variation of it... or what I would think would be a level lower to the original. Instead of a throw, nage walks whilst displacing or uprooting uke.
I think that curving the energy back and emphasising the hand to not lift or sink makes it more target orientated or simpler to do. Practice on the suriashi movements also really help when making a point. The problem with harmonising/awase is that most people become a brick wall when waiting for the strike to come. So by committing nage into a suriashi movement, slowly body unity will override individual hand movement. And hopefully hara gets trained to boot.
I'm really really losing a battle with the kids class though. I've got half the lot monkeying around and half the lot probably getting frustrated with the stuff we're doing. I think its time to do sorewaza techniques instead. Makes all the kids level and removes to much footwork confusion. But some of the kids are not going to handle seiza very well...
I closed today's class with some mumbo jumbo thought that I got whilst closing. We were sitting seiza and I kept still for a few minutes. The funny part is even as I felt the blood in my veins, the breath in my lungs and the, energy tingle in my body... I was pretty still. Yet in this calm and still situation I was anything but still. Everything seem so alive. And I was looking at the others fidgeting about, until I was a bit sorry for them. So I told them that we are human beings and that its impossible to keep still like a statue. Instead thinking about the movement in our body and being calm, we will look utterly still on the outside. Yet we remain alive inside. Its like that in Aikido doesn't it? Not too much external movement if you please, but inside or invisible to the eye, the energy flows enthusiastically.