This last weekend I attended my first Aikido seminar at Aikido of Dallas.
The weather was horrible as I drove down there Friday, after work. I arrived, got changed, and stretched out. Mike Abrams Sensei, from New York, gave that first class of the weekend. We did a lot of stuff I hadn’t done before, so it was a little confusing. However, it was good to get exposed to some new techniques, even if I didn’t totally get them. We did a cool version of Nikyo — one with the Nage sitting and Uke standing. Very cool.
On the way home I decided to skip the two Saturday sessions. I’ve only been doing this a few weeks, and really didn’t feel like I was up to 4 hours of Aikido right after that session. Instead, I relaxed on Saturday, did some stretching, and prepared for Sunday.
There was only one session on Sunday, led by Yamada Sensei. It was a good session. I got to start learning Tenchi Nage. We also did Ryotetori Nikyo, which was pretty cool. Actually, we did a lot of techniques that day — so many, in fact, that I stepped off the mat for the last two techniques. I had done about 100 shoulder rolls, and just felt like I was falling apart. So rather than risk injury due to fatique, I just watched the last two techniques. That is very much against my nature, but I can’t learn if I’m injured. It made me realize that staying home on Saturday was the right thing to do. I was simply not up to 8 hours of Aikido in 3 days.
Overall the seminar was helpful to me. I went home and looked up the techniques in my various Aikido books, and replayed them in my head and by physically going through them with an imaginary partner. Seeing all the black belts was also very inspiring and impressive. One group of almost all black belts was working out together, and it was cool to see them tossing each other around. Anyone who thinks Aikido isn’t rough needs to see it for real. These boys (and girls) play rough. Much rougher than any wrestling practice I ever went through. Everyone I worked with was more advanced than me, and all of them were very patient and helpful.
Finally, it was great to be in a practice with Yamada Sensei. I noticed that the practice session seemed designed to take us from fairly simple techniques to related but somewhat more complex stuff. Very logical and flowing. Sensei walked around, making comments and helping where he saw the need. As a beginner, I appreciated his help when given and I was very happy when he passed me by — perhaps indicating that he didn’t see anything too horrible going on!
I took Monday night off regular practice to heal up sore muscles. I really believe the secret to doing Aikido is learning your Ukemi (falling techniques) really well. In Aikido, if you don’t fall and roll smoothly, it will beat the hell out of you. I’ll be back at regular practice on Wednesday.