Aikido training in Japan

Into the Fall

In a matter of a day, here in Toyama, Japan, the temperature has dropped 10 degrees celsius, and boy can you tell. My heater air-con has come on for the first time in 6 months, I immediately have switched to wearing a long-sleeve shirt and thermal long johns when lounging in the apartment, getting out of bed and out of the shower in the morning have become chillingly painful, I can see my breath while I eat breakfast, and the high mountains are finally capped with snow. Oh and of course the leaves are starting to change; it’s only a matter of time until this whole country explodes in red and yellow leaves. This sudden drastic change in the weather is a little shocking, but intoxicatingly refreshing for me. Fall is my favorite time of the year and we’re just getting started here. In a matter of a couple months, weekends will be filled by flying down snow slopes on a board, and weekdays will be inside the chilly bin of a dojo we have. Tanoshimi.

Tonight Sensei couldn’t show up to training, so it was another night on the bike for 40 minutes to the next town. When I showed up, just minutes before when we usually start, only Hosogoshi was there warming up. If you’re used to training with more than a few people, showing up to train with only one other person can be a strange sensation. But at these Uozu classes, where numbers are significantly less and Sensei can’t always make it, it’s not so rare. This is a wonderful oppurtunity for training. It’s not a time to call off practice because there’s only two of you. It’s not a time to shrug because you have to be with one person the whole time. It’s a time to train as hard as you ever should, and give everything to this one person. In return, you should get the same dedication, and in the end, what you have is a wonderful experience that has brought you closer to that one person. When I notice how close the hardcore people are in my class, I know it’s because of many nights of one-on-one training that have happened throughout the years. Tonight, however, people soon trickled in, and by the end we had five people.

Speaking of “fall”, I can feel myself improving a lot on ukemi (being thrown). FAR from really good, but improving. Just improving in ukemi, thoroughly benefits my other skills in aikido. This is something beginners should pay strict attention to if they want to progress at their full potential I think.

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