Anyone out there who has kept up with my sporadic posting and my slightly askew monologues knows that I've always had a problem with my falls. I've always felt awkward in the execution, which led to "not quite great" falls or occasional flopping. This in turn created frustration with aikido in general and self-consciousness 'cause I must have been doing something wrong. (which i was)
Today's class changed all that.. and i couldn't be happier.
A good bit of class today was devoted to ukemi. Ground rolls forwards and backwards progressed to the standing forward rolls. Pat got us to extend an arm out for him to hold and as when leaned forward to a certain point he'd let the arm (which was limp btw) go and we would fall into the roll. For me, everything finally snapped into place. The roll felt comfortable, i wasn't tense, and i was easily able to come back up to standing. Great success!
So i ask Pat (in so many words), "Since you made those easy, can you make backward rolls as easy?"
"Ok then," says Pat.
2 weeks ago we were doing shomen ate and again (as had been the norm lately) the back fall just wasn't working right for me. I go flop onto my arse like i was just plopping down on the couch. My muscles seized up in my neck and upper back and, long story short, it took a few days to recover.
Back to the present: Pat broke out the crash pad, leaving it folded, and had us take a small step back and then sit down. As he demonstrated it i silently balked a little. "That looks way too easy." As as i crouched and sat it felt way too easy as well. After a few reps he unfolded the crash pad and we continued to step back and sit on a lower, though still comfy, surface.
At this point i was pretty amused by the fact that all this was was us sitting back and rolling slightly as the backward motion canceled out. It didn't hurt, feel odd, and it worked.. so i just couldn't see this thing being the right. I was enjoying this too much. It was fun.
Pat, being the ever patient teacher, finally moved the pad away and over and over the backfall worked. It was smooth and effortless. This still couldn't be that easy but I was hooked and enjoying it. This was definitely part of the aikido i had always felt i was missing out on.
With standing rolls and backward rolls covered i decided to push my luck and get Pat to fix my side falls as well. With these i had always just assumed, even more so than the other parts of ukemi, that falling sideways just walked hand in hand with eating a whole bunch of energy.
As it turns out though, not so much.
The thing i had been missing out on with these is that with the palm from whichever side i was falling and my leg/hip i was creating a arch to slow myself down and continue rolling slightly to the other shoulder. All this time i had been slamming onto my side with a slapping arm absorbing some of the impact but nowhere near the right amount i should have been getting rid of.
All of that said i was quite shocked and at the same time extremely delighted today. It was by far my favorite class because it cleared up nearly all of the things i have difficulty with in aikido. Or atleast difficulty in the sense that i constantly butt heads with it. I've been on cloud 9 all day and will for a while, i think.
I really love aikido. Best day ever!