We've had a string of very excellent classes at the Aikikai. In the past three days, I took classes with Keith, Sugano-sensei, Donovan Waite and Junya.
We did lots of weapons work over the weekend, which I'm coming to appreciate more and more. Whatever we do with our hands (taijutsu) has an innate heritage in weapons technique. So the practice reinforces basic aikido fundamentals with the added benefit of extending ki a bit farther out than one's hand. (Which should be done anyway!)
We did a henkawaza in Sugano-sensei's class which I hadn't done before -- reversing nikkyo into sankkyo. That was interesting. A technique can be reversed when it is not being applied properly, often with some degree of "muscle" or tension. I need to figure out when nikkyo can be reversed and when it can't so I can be sure to do it correctly. That case didn't seem to be about tension as much as clean technique. I have to work more with this.
Donovan's class was just fun. Surprisingly, he kept it pretty basic. The man is just amazing to watch. Great form and power! I wound up in a group with Indra, she's always a pleasure to work with. We did some good ukemi practice, too. At one point, I had misunderstood what we were to do and he grabbed my by my shoulder to manhandle me into the correct position. The man is strong.
I was partnered with a visiting student from Europe in Junya's class. We were doing lots of yokomenuchi-irimi. My partner had an odd sense of timing and distance for it. He just came in too close and too soon. It is interesting how these things have become part of my nature. When something isn't done properly, it just doesn't feel right and the counter just appears.
He was pretty new, so I tried to mention it to him, but he seemed rather enamored with his approach. I even showed him once or twice how I hadn't even begun the attack yet, so I was in no way committed to the yokomen. I even threw him when he came in yet again too soon. Nothing I did, though, made a dent in this guy's irimi, so I gave up. I tried to be helpful, but I'm not the instructor. In fact, I'm talking less and less these days. Someday, someone who he may listen to will show him and that's fine. I never had that attitude, though, and I think it has served me well in the dojo. Even if I initially disagree with something someone tells me, I will think twice about it. The thought process is usually "So-and-so has been here many years longer than me. There must be some reason he said that." So, I'll try to find it. If I can't, I'll ask someone I respect about it (like Mike Jones). I won't just ignore it when someone is trying to be helpful.
European guy was a nice enough, otherwise, and it was a good practice. I'm feeling pretty good these days.