pamelonian: (Default)
This was quite an eventful weekend. I had a friend visiting from out of town stay in my guest room. I am so grateful to have a guest room!

My first aikido teacher, Owen, also came through town to visit while on leave from the Army. We were all so shocked when he joined, but now that he is finished with Basic Training, he looks so happy! He is going to Monterrey, CA for a year to learn Arabic. He also visited the kids' aikido class I used to help him teach. He put the kids through some of his Army exercises. It was strenuous, but they loved it.

Japan Festival was also Saturday. Jana and I rocked the martial arts demo. We were just "special guests" of the Kansas City Ki-Aikido group, but we were able to bring the flash! After that, sake tasting and enjoying Japanese food.

Saturday's dinner was pumpkin pancakes at IHOP. I know, but the pancakes were delicious!

Today was one of those productive days with laundry, grocery buying, house cleaning, lesson planning, test grading, and lawn mowing. I even sat down for a while to read The Lost City of Z. It's a really good non-fiction book about explorers in the Amazon.

It almost feels like I get more weekend because I don't have to teach tomorrow. We are having Teacher In-Service. Boring meetings, but at least we get to go out for lunch!
pamelonian: (Default)
Everyone asks me, "What did you learn at World Camp?" I wish I had a simple answer, some tidy epiphany that I could tie in a bow and hand to someone. My experience, and probably everyone else's there, was much more personal.

We trained with the top instructors in our style of aikido. There were students from USA, Australia, Hawaii (practically its own country in aikido terms), Singapore, the UK, Eastern Russia, and Western Russia. The Eastern Russians only had to travel about 2 hours to get to Japan. The Russians were by far the largest subgroup. They were about 1/3 to 1/2 of the participants and they didn't really speak English (or Japanese). Some of them had been doing aikido for less than a year!

They didn't interact with us much, except after-hours when we were drinking beer and they brought out the vodka! In fact, they warmed up quite a bit while the vodka was flowing. I had a nice chat with some men who would pour a drink in my glass and watch as I downed it all at once, as it is supposed to be done.

The classes were very basic. We are all about a few basic principles that are really quite simple, but actually difficult in practice. It was humbling to be shut down by some huge guy but rewarding to figure out how to move him. Aikido, to me is about interaction, connection, an exchange of energy. We learn to lead rather than to push or pull. As a self-defense on the street, we can be a little philosophical. I do believe it can be effective when necessary.

The Taigi Competition is not about self-defense. Taigi are a sequence of attacks and defenses performed in a set amount of time. My partner and I rehearsed for weeks, if not months. I was the attacker, the one who takes all the falls and rolls. It was very physically demanding. I was so sore after a week that I was taking all sorts of pain-relievers, mixing them recklessly. We had many classes where we would get up and perform in front of the main instructor and he would offer corrections. I was actually relieved not to be the defender, because I don't like feeling responsible for everything and being put under the microscope. Not that my part wasn't crucial to the whole rhythm and timing of the performance.

Finally, the day of the competition arrived. I could barely get out of bed, but my partner wanted to practice one last time. I downed some coffee and more pills. Skipping breakfast, we had the huge dojo to ourselves. I am glad we did this, since I found out that I actually could manage it physically. Once the competition started we were paraded in (literally). They clapped in time to marching music as all of the groups filed in. Then we waited and waited and waited.

The International group probably had about 50 pairs competing. They brought in even more Japanese competitors that day. They had to win a preliminary competition in May in order to come. All we had to do was show up! So we waited our turn to perform. I had huge butterflies in my stomach and I felt like my insides were turning to liquid. I hoped I would be able to stand, fall, and get up again. I was terrified I would stumble or trip, for some reason, even though I didn't have a history of that really at all.

Patrick came to watch the competition! He is the one who used to train aikido here, but moved to Japan to study and now teaches English. It was so great to see him and know he was in the audience. Of course we had our friends at World Camp, but he was our homie from Kansas!

We finally got to perform. We were entered in all five categories. The compulsory taigi, a selected taigi, a weapons take-away taigi, and the sword and staff forms.

I felt like we really did our best, maybe even better than our best. After all that instruction we improved tremendously over the week we were there. Not to mention that we were, in one Chief Instructor's words, "Light years ahead" of where we were 4 years ago. The scores we received were respectable, but not enough to win anything. In fact, it was almost all Japanese competitors who swept the categories.

Many were disappointed with their scores. The judging is mostly subjective, as it is. At least I know we did everything that was in our power to do. The judging is totally beyond our control. We got great feedback from our friends who watched us. Our execution was smooth and we were really "together."

I wondered repeatedly why we put ourselves through this. It is a process. I loved training with my partner to get there, sharing the experience and the bond that no one else will truly understand. The whole idea of giving myself a challenge, a reason to step up training, is part of it, as well. The lesson we are supposed to learn, I think, is about maintaining mind and body coordination over an extended period of time and under extreme circumstances.

I have to note the weirdness of participating in a competition when we are anything but competitive in this particular martial art. They tell us it is not about who wins a medal, yet they still award medals.

Will I be up for it again in 4 years? I will have to see how my body holds up. I didn't think 4 years ago that I would have been able to do it today. You just never know...
pamelonian: (koteoroshi)
This week in my life will be aikido, aikido, and a little more aikido.  I am planning to train every night this week except for Tuesday, which is Japanese class.  The pre-test is Friday.  That is when I get the go-ahead to test for real the following week. 

I am getting smoother on the weapons disarming, which is good because everyone says that is the main focus of the test.  I also have a 5-opponent free attack (randori) to practice.  I understand the importance of it, but it is one of my least favorite things to do.  It can get rough.  I much prefer the choreographed stuff and even free-flow, where you just do different defenses to whatever they give you.  Dodging and ducking 5 people trying to throw some is exhausting!  I always wind up sore and bruised. 

Speaking of choreographed stuff, practice for the Japan competition this summer is going well.  I will probably be the one who does all the attacking and falling, since I can get up more quickly.  Our forms have to be performed in a set amount of time.  Here's to me for being spritely!  I don't always feel spritely, though.  I feel every landing and every roll much more than I did in years past. 

The good news is that our weapons forms are really starting to look good.  We have to perform sword and staff forms side-by-side in perfect sync.  Our sword form is so matched it is almost eerie! 

OK, time to get on with life.  Sensei observed me teaching and I am supposed to call him to get his feedback.  Also, I still need to do laundry, walk the [profile] tiri_mu, and work on tomorrow's Spanish lessons.  Oh yeah, and maybe study some Japanese!

A Good Day

Jan. 17th, 2008 10:04 pm
pamelonian: (Pammered)
Today our district was wise enough to call off school due to the inclement weather!  My Department Chair called me just before I finished making my lunch to head out early for work.  The cancellation was not even displayed on the TV yet.  So here I was all dressed up and nowhere to go...  I read some, felt really too cold, so I went to bed with the heated mattress pad.  Ah...  Four hours later I got up and went SHOPPING!!

Johnny from the movie Airplane! says, "THERE'S A SALE AT PENNEY'S!!"  I made quite a haul!  I must have picked up 5 blouses, a pair of pants, 2 bras (the first one I tried on fit so I bought two-- the ladies understand how lucky I was to find a bra that fit on the first try).  I also bought another fleece pullover from the exercise clothes department.  I am addicted to buying fitness wear.  I can't stop myself.  I am the best dressed gal at the gym! 

Then I went to aikido.  I have been having a good time training for my sandan test.  I am finding that I already know all the techniques I need to do.  I just need to do them with an advanced level of understanding and finesse.  Jana is a great training partner.  We are going to do so well in Japan!

The only problem with taking a 4 hour nap is that I am now not a bit tired and it is past my bedtime.  Oh well, I am sure I will be plenty tired tomorrow!
pamelonian: (Default)
The new school year is starting out well.  It is not my best year ever, but certainly not the worst.  I don't do beginnings and endings very well, but I do a FINE middle.  Once I get started I am pretty good at plugging along.  I still have chances to be creative and brilliant, and if I am not spending energy getting and keeping the students' attention, I will have an even better year.  This year HAD to be better.  Last year kinda sucked a good deal of the time.

I rode 11 miles today to help myself recover from the 66-mile tour on Sunday.  It felt pretty good.  I had to change a tire before I could leave.  Don't be all impressed, that is the only kind of bike maintenance I know how to do...

Sensei has backed off nominating me and some others for sandan testing.  That is fine by me.  The test is only 2 weeks away!  I don't have the time to devote to really shining, which is how I want my last test in aikido to be.  We don't test for any rank above 3rd-degree.  From there it is all political...  Anyway,  I am not on a timeline here.  I have been doing this for 8 years and I hope to do it for 8 more and then some! 

I was planning to go to the dojo to train just in case Sensei taps me for testing, but after my bike ride I don't feel like it.  Will I or won't I?  I know everyone will be just dying to find out so I will edit this later to let you know...

**ETA:  I didn't go to aikido.  Blame Starbuck, Apollo, and Modest Mouse.  No, not my rodent collection, but I still haven't listened to my new cd or even ripped it for my iPod.  Last night I started watching "The Hand of God," which is the final episode of Battlestar Galactica (the original series).  I only got to watch about 10 minutes of it, and I want to finish it.   I practiced weapons forms by the pool.  I must have looked pretty bad-ass swinging around my wooden sword and staff.  Either bad-ass or silly, it's a fine line...
pamelonian: (Hair)
A girl from the Journal-World (the local newspaper) came by kids' aikido class and took some pictures of them rolling, me throwing them, them throwing each other. They should be in next Wednesday's Game section of the paper. Her editor just told her to come down. She called first, and we asked all the parents' permission to let their children be photographed (you have to do that these days). I do enjoy throwing children around. Funny thing is, they enjoy me throwing them.

Because of aikido stuff, I could not go to the gym or ride my bike. It is now getting dark sooner, and while I will ride at night, I won't go down any country roads which is my greatest biking pleasure.

Carpooling is still going well. We are keeping to the schedule and I will be saving $80-$100 a month!

Teaching went well today. Even my worst class wasn't so bad. There were extended periods of time where they were quiet and paying attention. Wow! We all need a chance to settle in to a new routine. I now want to be doing better at my first class. I feel so disorganized starting first hour cold.
pamelonian: (Green jacket)
BIG thanks to our friend Carly in Boulder for letting three of us "camp" on her living room floor tomorrow night.  We get to hang out in Boulder and see "Happy Thursday," when a bunch of Boulderites wearing various costumes ride bikes around the city.  (I sooo would do that if I could bring my bike this time.) 

Friday, we are headed to Fort Collins to tour New Belgium Brewery.  There are supposed to be free samples involved!  After the tour, we head to Jacks Gulch campground.  Friday night is set-up and socializing.  Saturday and Sunday is weapons training camp with Kashiwaya Sensei, our national chief instructor and all-around great guy!  This is a great chance to camp with aikido friends from here and all over the region, and try to whack them with sticks!

Sunday night we return.  Monday morning I report to my school for the start of the year.  We have 3 days of In-service and getting ready.  Classes start Thursday, the 17th.  I am so glad to start on a Thursday.  When we start on a Monday, I TOTALLY lose my voice.  It is better to ease into things. 

**No one made noise at the pool last night! 
pamelonian: (Default)
I will be back at school. We will not be doing any real work, just sitting through In-Service. On the first day the principals all take turns going over stuff that we need to know to get by this year. I do look forward to catching up with the other teachers. We do not see each other at all over the summer. Maybe it is because I live in another town. Maybe we just like to separate our school lives from out summer lives.

Today, though, I am riding my bike and calling the bike repair shop about the replacement wheel. Then I have Kids' Aikido Class.

My last weekend of summer will be a trip to Colorado. It is an aikido weapons seminar and campout. Our national chief instructor will be there and it is always a fun time. Camping near Ft. Collins at 9000 feet should be just the thing to beat the August heat.
pamelonian: (Kittymoose)
My bike's chain fell off and hit my foot while pedaling down Tennessee Street this morning. I put it back on and rode right to Sunflower. The guy fixed it in about 2 1/2 minutes. I wish I knew how to fix things...

After that I rode 16 miles. It is much cooler in the mornings. I will not go biking when it is over 100 degrees unless I absolutely have to. I don't have that necessity right now. I will ride with the Lawrence Bike Club once school gets started and I can't go on morning rides anymore.

I will have to cut out a night or two of aikido, but that's been coming for some time. I have aikido-related things 5 days a week. No one else does that much. I am burning out on it big time. Friday night-Advanced class, Saturday morning Kids' class, Sunday morning- My class that I teach, Monday night- Kids again, Wednesday night- My own training (but I usually end up teaching as the most senior student there).

Big ride coming up this Sunday. They have 40, 70, and 100 mile options. I am likely going for the 40 if I wind up going at all. If I had no other obligations, I would do this ride and go with the Bike Club twice a week.

This school year I will have Volleyball games to work and night school to attend, in addition to the above activities. How will I do it all?

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