I'm hardcore back into aikido. That means practicing with an active intent towards my next test - 3rd Kyu - and growing the dojo. That means practicing on a regular basis. When I was serious about aikido, I used to practice 2-3 times a week. I was aggressive and violent and pushed my body to learn. But I also skimped by. I was fast and smart, and thus able to use my talents to learn the techniques.
My brain would shut off and half the time I didn't know the name of the technique I learned. When it came to test time, I would cram the names into my head using mnemonic devices. My favorite sections were the sword/weapon kata displays and freestyle.
I knew someday I would have to learn - hardcore - the names of everything. And that one day I would know the names of all the techniques instead of just doing them. If I had continued practicing at that level, I would have become a black belt in 2002. Instead I took a meandering path. Well, that's the style of my aikido dojo anyway.
And here I am back. Exactly where I need to be. Learning the techniques all hardcore with their proper names. Except I have a lot more weaknesses and experiences now. I know a lot more about myself. My body has more wear and tear. I'm tight and not as fluid as I used to be. And yet I'm more flexible and don't shy away from dealing with hard things.
Take practice last night. We were doing an irimi where my uke was an obstacle. I don't do well with obstacles. I don't like confrontation. I prefer to re-position and turn. But not last night. The obstacle was really in the way of where I wanted to go. I kept trying to do the tenkan variety of the technique. No No no.
I felt much resistance. I felt very vulnerable and fearful. I started getting sick to my stomach. I wanted to puke. I wanted to do another technique. I wanted anything except to deal with this confronting person front of me. It's not like he's attacking me. (He is, but he's my uke.) And then I see - this is a metaphor for what's happening in my life. There are things, people, confronting me, and I've been squirming, repositioning try to differential myself from them. But what I really need to do is just continue on my path. When I stop focusing on my uke, my energy moves right through. It is my rightful path. These obstacles in my way are only here for my practice.
That makes this practice, even though I feel like puking, all the more important. It's here on the mat, with my partners that I can explore fear, aggression, confrontation and lots of other fun things in a safe way. I'm glad to be practicing again, even though it's not that fun right now.