Alberto's class is usually an aerobic workout. He likes to do lots of front and back rolls and even a few jumping jacks and push-ups. Not the typical aikido fare. I always try to keep up, and I'm always willing to try. No matter how tired I am, I feel the extra incentive when the class is doing something together.
However, one thing I've stopped doing at the dojo is the bunny hop. Alberto and another instructor seem to love these. These are repeated jumps straight up in the air from a deep-knee bend. I spent several weeks last year being unable to bend my left knee, and I have no desire to re-aggravate it.
Last week, I was telling another student how my knee was finally 100 percent and even felt "better then ever!" The following class then consisted of about 20 bunny hops and I immediately felt my knee begin to weaken. No more bunny hops for me.
We did them last night in Alberto's class, during the warm-up. I just moved off to the side, feeling self-conscious. But the momentary regret of not joining the team is better than not being able to practice for a month! When did I get old? The above photo shows a bunny hop I might be more able to do.
Alberto's class was, as per usual, a high speed extravaganza. Lots of kokyu-type throws (kokyu means "breath power") and lots of partner changes.
We ended with koshinage, but not as usual! Koshinage is a over-the-hip type throw. Alberto told us to just do the opening and position ourselves to load uke (the one who is "receiving" the technique or being thrown) and then stop. That is simple enough, but we had to do it quickly, 20 times each! Did I mention the proper positioning involves a deep knee bend? But I managed to get through that, and then the 10 more that followed.
My partner for this technique is a young Austrian woman who is fairly new to aikido, I think. It seems she's been practicing for less than a year. It is amazing how good her ukemi has become in such a short time. (Ukemi is the art of receiving a technique properly. i.e. rolling, break-falling, etc.) It was so easy to throw her. And she took those falls, which can be quite difficult for new practitioners, with a quiet grace. I, on the other hand, hit the mat hard, every time.
This video is a good example of what koshinage looks like:
That guy's ukemi, while very good, is similar to mine: A kind of hard slap with the arm to spread the impact. Lots of sound. My partner's ukemi was a bit softer and very quiet. True, I didn't throw her so very hard, allowing her to flow a bit more effortlessly, but in any case, she's a natural. Some of us just have to work at it!