I just got back from training, and before I hit the couch for a nap I want to get a few lines out about life in the dojo this week.

We rent space in a community centre (this means we have to put out the mats before class and stow them away afterwards; see my story “The Room” on the Reflexions page.) and have classes M T W Th evenings, and Saturday mornings. Tuesday evening and Saturday morning have the biggest draw, and the change rooms are often very crowded, triggering memories of playing Twister and offering lots of opportunities to practice evasions. It’s a wonder we don’t end up wearing the wrong belts (or tied together, as my friend Rob quipped).

Since my partner and I are preparing for our shodan test, we are often given a corner of the mat to ourselves and the assistance of one of our black belts to put us through our paces and guide us through our test.

I should take a moment to say that our club has great depth in the deep end of the pool; our sensei is godan, there are two yudan, two sandan and eight nidan. And about six or more shodan. They all have a deep knowledge of technique and the ability to communicate it in a very clear way. Now, that may not be so remarkable, but this is:

They are all, without exception, very generous and often give up their time on the mat to help the juniors. You never have to look very far for help in our dojo, and for that I’m very grateful and proud.

Anyway, as I reflect on the last couple of weeks that have been focused on our shinsa, I am becoming more and more aware of the ‘mind’ of aikido that I need to continue to move forward. Well actually, that’s the point - keep moving forward, let go of the past, just be…present. Accept that I need not be defined by how class went yesterday (crappy, sometimes), or even the last throw (ouch!). I only need to stay in the present moment and choose who I want to be …now.

This is incredibly liberating, as frustration and worry fall away like snow sliding off the roof. I’m finally starting to relax and really feel my techniques.

I’m going to end on that note, ‘cuz what I really feel is the need for that nap I mentioned earlier…

Happy training!