Today I attended another training/testing at 自然会下関道場 with Suganuma Shihan leading the workout. It’s been about half a year since I last trained with this group. Today there was about an hour and a half workout followed by testing sessions for 5th kyu up through sandan. Of course, not being my dojo, I just go for the morning training. But it is interesting to see standard Aikikai testing, and to watch familiar faces put to the test.
Although this group’s style is slightly different, I always come away learning something new that I can incorporate into my own aikido. I find their work on the basics to be very standardized which helps to refine my own bad habits and at times provides unexpected insight.
Suganuma Shihan stopped by during one pairing to help my technique and actually remembered my name. It was only the third time we’d met at these testing sessions. There were about 61 people today so it was nice that he remembered me. And he asked after my teacher, Kuroishi Sensei, who is his senpai by a number of years. One other teacher from the handful of dojo knows my teacher and trained with him a couple of lifetimes ago.
Now to the point, there was another foreigner there who tested for 2nd kyu and who impressed me quite a bit. His technique was on par with the others being tested, but this fellow is visually impaired. Aikido is hard enough to learn when you can see what’s going on. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in his gi. More power to him. It made me consider how much I take little things like sight for granted. I think from now on I’ll complain less and train more.
That reminds me of the time back home when Shihan-dai Chuck Smith blindfolded me in the wrestling room in college and said he was going to attack a certain way and that I was to perform a particular technique in order to prove a point to the other members of the class. He naturally did something completely different. Come to think of it, he blindfolded me up in a tree on the ropes course in Northwest River Park and had me walk the limbs. I digress, but without a doubt, removing sight puts a new perspective on things.
Well, it’s back to my own dojo tomorrow and to things more familiar, frustrating and fun. Happy training everyone!