Friday's effort at the aikikai had all the typical elements of one of Doug's classes: Uchi/soto variations, partner changes, some projection throws and a liberal dash of aikido humor.
There was a new girl I practiced with in a group. I think I had seen a few times, but I never talked to her. When I grabbed her wrist, I felt quite a bit of kokyu power, so it was obvious she had some experience at another dojo. I figured at least a year or more, probably fifth or fourth kyu.
I got a chance to speak to her after class and asked her where she was from. She misunderstood my question and told me her hometown. When I made it clear I was asking which dojo she had trained at before she looked at me kind of blankly. "I just started two weeks ago here."
It was my turn to stare blankly. It always amazes me how some people can just pick up what most of us try so hard to get. Her form was a little on the inexperienced side, but still not bad at all. It was her relaxation and focus that was quite impressive.
As it turns out, she's an ex-dancer with expertise in body mechanics. I quickly asked to help me with all the problems I have with my posture in and out of aikido. She said she'll give me exercises to strengthen certain muscles, their weakness causing poor body alignment. :)
I also told her about my quest to become more flexible. I remember even 10 years ago, when I wanted to loosen up, even a few weeks of stretching had noticeable results. The past few years, however, all the stretching I do doesn't seem to have any effect at all. I told her this too, and she seemed unperturbed. She really sounds like she knows what she's doing, so I'm looking forward to that. It's just the thing I've been thinking about lately. In fact, I was looking at Pilates or Yoga as a possible solution and this is right in line with that idea.
Yet more evidence that really cool people find the dojo...