Energy, Improvement, and Training

The only thing that comes to mind lately is that I have a bit more energy when I have to work and only take four classes a day. It makes a big difference in the last sprint of the day when there are three classes back to back. I have the energy to sink down lower take big steps and basically move from my center. It is also easier to pick up on the technique when I am not exhausted and wishing I could lay down somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, training when you are dead tired has many benefits, most of which are not obvious at the time of training, such as: training your muscles to remember certain a series of movements, and learning to be tough and enduring.

I’ve noticed in my 4 1/2 years of training that one hits plateaus, and then, suddenly, when you feel like your Aikido really sucks, your throws and falls feel smoother and more powerful than you last remembered or someone who hasn’t seen you in awhile compliments your progress. In my mind it is easy to acknowledge that I must be improving, but with all the criticism I receive it is hard to see past all the mistakes and exhaustion. Part of being an uchi deshi is to be tired so I’m okay with it for the moment.

I think once I am done with the apprenticeship program here, I will try to take 3 hours of Aikido most days of the week no matter where I end up. Hopefully this will be feasable. I may have to attend a few dojos at one time to get that amount of training outside NYC. I don’t want to be one of those uchi-deshi that forget Aikido when they move out and are never seen on the mat again.

On the subject of training. I think one must see the benefits of training with every type of person out there. There are the slow heavy partners, the awkward beginners, the zippy fast partner, and the sempai belts.

The slow heavy partners can be frustrating, but I find that if I am not too tired I can manage a class or two a day with this type. One must be technical and really move the whole body as a unit to get this person to move. You can’t train quickly with these people but somehow you are still tired at the end of class anyway. One really learns where the weak points are in their technique when training with this person.

Awkward begginners teach you how to break things down into simple language. It is pointless to tell most beginners to “move thier center” when they don’t even know what or where it is. It is better to say “ut your foot there turn your hand like this” and then let them do it over and over again until they are comfortable enough to stop looking at their feet. Then and only then can you focus on esoteric things and give them other details that make the technique effective.

If you want to sweat a zippy partner that is quick and light on their feet is a good choice. You really learn timing and movement when with these partners. You also learn how fast is too fast, because usually at some point someone gets sloppy (trips,steps on your foot, or misses the grip) and has to slow down a bit to regain control. Sometimes these partners become slippery targets because the sweat makes grips difficult. It is also notable to mention that it is highly important to have short even nails so you don’t scratch anyone.

Your senior belts can fit into any one of the before catagories (excluding beginners). The difference is you are not allowed to correct them, and you must (based on how high of a rank) listen to what they and attempt to do it. I don’t want to offend any readers, but if you pick an older black belt(much older), especially one with lots of injuries, don’t expect a very exciting class. You can learn a lot from them, but sometimes its hard to apply it because they cannot take the ukemi.

The only people I recommend avoiding are those that incite you to no end. Fights on the mat are bad. If you want a good workout avoid close friends who will tempt you into having conversations on the mat.

Sorry for the long intervals between posts, I’ve been busy working and planning my vacation to see all of you.