Last week from the 27th to the 1st of November I was at Pat's for the 3rd Annual Aiki Buddy Gathering. John and I were there the first four days for some extra practice at 5am and 6pm with plenty of open mat practice and sleep in between.
The first 9 sessions we had focused on synchronization with uke as tori diffused their attack. The 8 motions of Hanasu and the 23 techniques of Nijusan were broken down, relaxed, tweaked, and repeated often. The chains, which are combinations of two to three of the things from either Hanasu or Nijusan, we went through a few times to give us the chance to continue to avoid uke while staying in sync with his motions no matter where uke chooses to go. I got plenty of practice for my Ikkyu demo.
The sessions from 10 on were the actual Gathering classes devoted to the knife sets of Rokukata, knife randori, and simply adapting your aikido to the idea that even an unarmed opponent is as dangerous as a knife wielding one. It puts a much more fine tone to your movements, making them sharper (pardon the pun).
My ikkyu demo pretty much rocked the casbah thanks to Chops, one of the Starkville students. I missteped on one move because my mind simply blanked during the setup as to wich one i was doing next. The rest of it flowed really well and we went slowly enough to show how each technique worked. The q&a from Pat and Dr. Usher was pretty cool. I think i could have pulled off a shodan demo rather well if i had had the hours to do so...so i'm really looking forward to the real deal sometime next year. Not saying i deserve a shodan or anything, i just think i've gotten decent at aikido. Let me have my delusions. Oh, and for long time readers my ukemi is no longer a problameo, i can roll!
My best bud John got his Shodan over the weekend and was pretty overwhelmed when Pat handed him his own black belt. It's definately something he'll always remember.
All in all i had a blast. Between all the training and crashing on the floor in the dojo to hanging out with the MSU crowd it was a pretty great week to spend hanging out with John before he headed off to Washington state. My aikido has improved and i'm looking forward to all the things i learn in the future.