When I arrived for the afternoon class, I knew from the crowd Yamada-sensei must be teaching. Sensei doesn't teach every day, so when he does, people make it. On any day he has a scheduled class, the phone rings off the hook, everyone with just one question, "Is sensei teaching today?"
I don't usually do that, though. I go to the dojo when I can go and am just happy to be able to practice. Maybe I'll get more particular in a decade, who knows? For now, I just show up, though of course, I'm always glad to take sensei's class.
I was mulling around on the mat with Luis before class. Luis is a former 10-year deshi and weekly instructor at the Aikikai. He and I always get along very well. He's a good guy and a very strong aikidoka.
He's so strong, in fact, I tend to not usually seek him out as a partner, even though he's a great teacher. As I was talking to him, I suddenly felt inspired. I'm recovered from my ailments now, right? So I should have all my wind back. Suddenly, I just found myself asking him to "help me out." This will certainly be a test to see if I'm back to normal strength or not. Haha.
We started with kokyuho back stretch and went fairly quickly to suki. From there, we switched over to tanto and did a bunch of less common techniques.
One was based on an odd attack. I kind of cross handed attack to the opposite side. Nage then gets off-line and breaks uke's grip on the tanto with a elbow bend. When sensei did it, the tanto went flying about 15 feet. I only managed a few...
All the while, Luis was pounding me pretty hard, but I was really taking it much better than ever before. Maybe because I'm healthy again, maybe because my ukemi is getting a little better, but I really didn't have too many problems on the mat.
I even tried to mix it up with him and pound him a bit. Haha. Of course, that is still not yet possible. The guy's ukemi is just too good to be pounded by the likes of me. He just flows like water and comes up fresh and clean. Amazing. Someday, I'll get him to at least breathe a little heavy. ;)
I managed to find a photo, above, of sensei with a tanto! Sensei has a fairly new website with his schedule and lots of really great photos. The caption for this one simply says, "During public demonstration, Japan."