Thursday, January 27, 2011 - Session Eighteen

Oh man, my throat still stings. Tonight was a good practice. Amaury and I carpooled again and there was a new person waiting for class to begin. He had done a few years of Aikido in the past and was somewhat familiar with Kendo, although he had never done it before. He brought in a Kobudo shinai which he had used in his former Aikido practice but I wound up loaning him my ise bessaku for the session instead. It was weird switching back to the lighter women's shinai I had begun Kendo with. It felt like I was not holding anything in my hands at all. At least not until we started practicing one-handed swings again. At first I felt like I was having strength issues, but it turns out that the real problem was the leverage. Once Maestas Sensei told me how to do it properly, and I could breathe for a moment, I was able to make the right changes and the sensation was much improved.

There was also more kiri-kaeshi tonight and I am even more committed to improving in that area. Amaury and I spoke after class on the drive back into Longmont. He will be picking up some loaner bogu from Maestas Sensei soon and then we are going to set up some time to practice kiri-kaeshi during the week. It really takes a lot out of me, and Sensei tells me that it is because I am too tense. I believe him when he says this - and he has been saying it for awhile now - but it has been difficult for me to process. I do not usually feel tense at all. I actually tend to feel rather loose. My guess at this point is that it is somehow related to the hypermobility syndrome and my joints, which tend to be more weak and more fluid than they are in people without the condition. I have grown up with so many bad habits and, at leats in this case, I am beginning to think that I tense up in order to keep my joints and so forth in place. It does not take too much strength so it has never felt like I have actually tense, but it still involves keeping my arm muscles and chest muscles engaged. Basically, at this point I feel like I must be stiffening because I am overcompensating for too much flexibility in order to avoid hyperextension and hyperflexion in my arms.

It is a process. But I also know that it is not a permanent sentence, since I have already made some huge leaps and bounds in learning to keep my knees bent when I walk and move, whereas I would always allow my knees to hyperextend and remain unengaged in my gait. I might not be brilliant at Kendo or anything but just that one change alone means the world. I think that is one reason why I am sticking with it despite the hypermobility and the EIA (exercise induced asthma) and so forth. Both can make it very difficult to progess as quickly as others might. But I see all these little victories that I keep experiencing when it comes to surpassing those problems, and that alone is enough to keep me motivated. Setting aside, of course, the fact that it is super wicked fun!

Speaking of fun. Justin Senpai showed up again. He brought his girlfriend with him this time and I am hoping that means that they will both be regular faces from week to week. He and I were partnered up for haya suburi and it felt good. I could still use a lot of work in that area - in every area - but I have definitely come a long way from almost passing out after only five repetitions. I was even able to maintain a good breath for most of it! Later he and I were both motodachi for the others, and then we drilled out some more kiri-kaeshi before moving on to another jigeiko. It was intense. Standing in front of Justin Senpai is really daunting but also pretty inspirational. I could very easily feel discouraged when my four months is set before his six years and, certainly, my body cannot keep up with him at this point. I end up gasping and wheezing and it becomes very difficult to even stand. But I learned something yet again (not quite sure how to qualify it with words just yet) and the daunted feeling I get is also what inspires me in the end. Not necessarily to show better spirit in the moment - it is difficult to summon up good spirit when I feel like I am about to lose consciousness because there is no wind in my lungs - even though I want to, but to try harder in the long run and to keep on trying no matter what. I want to build up my endurance. Build up my strength and speed. In the end, feeling daunted is what keeps me moving forward. Sometimes that seems a little backwards when compared against the person I used to be, but I like the person I am becoming a whole lot more.

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