We have two new deshi at the dojo. Luke and Tristan are a couple of yudansha from Australia and seem like good guys. They're set to be at the New York Aikikai for the next 3 months. I know Mike Jones, the senior uchi-deshi must be very glad they are here as he is a bit over worked with just him and Sanji to mind the shop.
I partnered with Luke in Dana's class. I have to say I got pretty tired again in class and this is really starting to frustrate me. I feel like I have less wind then ever. It seems especially since I stopped smoking, I just can't last for very long on the mat at all. I had to go out for water at about the 35 minute mark, and that really bugs me as I don't think I was moving all that much.
Last night also saw the return of my favorite sempai, Indra. She was away from the dojo for a few weeks and it was nice to have her back. We got in a group together and at one point she leaned over and said, "Just because you are tired, don't be sloppy. You can slow up, but if you're sloppy, it looks bad." This is of course, very correct and exactly what I needed to hear. These days I'm really trying to work on staying more relaxed and anyone who reminds me of this is doing me a big favor.
In fact, this year I have a mantra for aikido. It is very simply, "Relax and get lower." (Courtesy of Claire Keller.) Claire has pointed out, and I couldn't agree more, that these are the two points that would make a big difference in my aikido. Certainly, the more I can relax, the less energy I'll be waisting, so that's a big plus.
I'm having some success in the get-lower thing as it just takes constant reminding. But relaxing is not so easy. It tends to go away if I'm not thinking about it.
I was talking about relaxation with another sempai and she told me Harvey Konigsberg-sensei (7th dan, shihan) recently said to her that he was now happy with the way he was relaxing his shoulders. That comment is stunning. I mean, wow, that's 40 years.
I remember hearing a quote from Koichi Tohei where he said the most important thing he learned from Ōsensei was how to relax. So this is a recurring theme among those in the know...
If anyone who sees me at the dojo is reading this, next time you see me, please shout out, "Are you relaxin'?" ;)