The last few days have been full of self introspection. An old classmate gave me some candid evaluations, and some unique insights into my practice and how it is viewed among his teachers and peers. Even in the harmony I continue to look within.
How do view my own training and my relationship with the arts?
Honestly I continue to be happy with my slow development, my relationships, my techniques, my students and my teachers. I enjoy my expression of the arts.
First to my development as a martial artist. I mean here the nitty gritty technique part. I am not super human, that much is for sure. In judo shiai I get really bogged down with 4th and 5th dans. In aikido shiai I have traded some great techniques with people that far outrank me. In the grand scope of things that doesn't seem so bad. I tend to be terrible with kata, but I am strong at creativity, and randori. I see relationships in body dynamics that not many people can see.
I love randori. Some days I am a force of nature. Other days my ass gets served to me. I am not afraid to lose or take ukemi. I have far less ego in technique than I have had before.
Kuzushi, breaking the structure of an opponent using their energy, or minimal energy of my own is my obsessive pursuit.
My techniques continues to get softer and more effective. I do still have some muscly and pain hot spots, but I feel them coming on and now I abandon them. I tend to practice against people who are resistive or have poorer ukemi. This has made my approach more pragmatic, and I chose safer throws that I can safely control the decent of almost any opponent, no matter their skill level. It makes the aiki a little less flippy and graceful, but I don't require people to 'go with the flow' in order to gain the controls I am after.
I am now teaching at two schools. Since I have started the second school I am beginning to take on a few shodan and above level students from a variety of clubs from around town. The new guys seem to appreciate I don't control them with rules, and I let them explore their training in a principled yet non limited way. I really get along well with my guys. There is a lot of laughter. On the horizon a third club is forming that I will be teaching at as well.
I have solid relationships with other oddballs, eccentrics and wise men in the arts. My evenings not training are often spent bloggin and on the phone, laughing about the way and sharing life with my fellow budoka.
I have been training very close with my some of my teachers lately. They have out poured generosity in their time spent with me. Matl Sensei has been giving me a couple hours a week. Hussey Sensei has been coming down and working with small groups. Bode Sensei and Lowry Sensei have kept their presence and influence active through the internet and phone. Waddell Sensei is who I take my trips to meet. We speak of God, whiskey and the way. I realize I don't fit with all people in the world, but I have found a few who seem to like me.
I continue to enjoy the martial arts. I am putting in 5-7 hours on the mat and another couple at the range every week. It keeps me happy, fulfilled and constantly striving for improvement. My body is strong, largely pain free and healthy. My relationships are solid and deep. I try to be respectful and kind in all my dealing in the arts and in life. I feel I am reaping the rewards of the practice. I have a long way to go and much to learn. Hopefully I will be blessed with a long life and the health to train till the very end of it.
It is entirely possible that I have my head up my ass.
Walk In Peace