OK, tonight I did tumbling. Shoulder rolls, to be specific. Aikidoists do probably the smoothest shoulder rolls I’ve ever seen, turning their bodies into wheels. Amazing and graceful.
I got some good instruction in proper shoulder roll technique and practiced them for about 30 minutes. Mine are not great, but they did improve with practice. I will get them much better.
Then we did some techniques — variations of the Shomenuchi Ikkyo technique — and I rolled out of the throws when it was my turn to be thrown. This is why smooth rolls are important. Doing bad ones is much more painful and exhausting.
The Shomenuchi Ikkyo variations included various ways of changing direction and throwing, based on your position in the technique and how much fight the opponent has in him. These moves really rely on position and technique, rather than strength. They involve using the Uke’s (the person being thrown) momentum rather than resisting it, keeping your balance while taking Uke’s away, and proper footwork. Really cool.
We also did a throw from the Ryokatatori (double lapel grab) position. Not sure what the full technique was called, but it was a nice throw.
For more advanced level tests, Aikidoists have to contend with multiple attackers. Last night our Sensei demonstrated some strategies for students working on this. Then we did some exercises in which 2 of us, in line, confronted an advanced student, over, and over. The idea was that the Nage (guy doing the throwing) was to move forward, meeting the attackers. The exercise was not intended to test individual techniques, but rather to train the aikidoists to move toward attackers, taking the initiative in the situation. At least that was my understanding of it.
At any rate, it was very tiring. Made me realize that I’m in really, really bad shape. While my flexibility is improving, my overall condition leaves much to be desired. I’m looking forward to improving my physical condition and agility, as well as learning the techiques and learning to fall properly.
I am, however, less sore than I was expecting.
It is really fascinating to finally be doing these techniques that I’ve been reading about for so long. Even the most outwardly simple techniques seem to contain subtleties that require years to truely master.
Oh yeah — I bought a gi tonight. No more practicing in sweats. yaaaaay!