Today was an exhausting but rewarding day, with several break through and realizations.
Today was also a bit confusing. I have had conversations about “picking a teacher” with a couple of the students that have come here quite a bit. Brian Tritico said he was told he had to pick. Others have said they weren’t forced or asked to. I have expressed that I would be very hesitant to pick only one teacher, since I see value in everyone’s class. Each one is special, valuable, and important.
I really found my groove in Shiraishi Sensei’s class. All the work and study is starting to pay off and the movements are beginning to flow.
At the end of class I was able to train with Josh who is Shiraishi’s student. Josh is a huge help because he is both encouraging and offers feedback on top of being just excellent. The movement and elements of Kuzushi (collapse) started to flow together and the speed began to pick up a little bit.
When these movements begin to compound each other, and the speed picks up, you can really see how something so gentle become very practical. Also, by being so relaxed it really throws the tense opponent off. When I get back I want to start testing these things against increase resistance to increase my understanding.
Also, Shiraishi Sensei asked me if I would like the next rank. I didn’t want to go into detail with him, and upset him that the last rank was from Nagato. I did mention how appreciative I was for all that he did for me when I tested for Godan.
“Would it make you happy?” He asked. “I’m just happy to be here and to train. I would rather be a good 8th Dan than a not-so good 9th dan. The training makes me happy” I respectfully replied.
He understood with a smile. “Let’s leave it up to Soke…”
I agreed but was a bit confused, as I’m sure Soke has no idea who I am – I’m a small fish in a big pond. With so many people that come through, I’d imagine I’m just another nameless face. So I’m not sure what all this will mean.
Nevertheless it’s a compliment that he would offer it and cared enough to ask. That alone made me happy.
While the first class in Nagato was extremely difficult and downright frustrating, the class today was a bit more digestible and I felt pretty good about my movement. Pablo was very good about giving me feedback, and between the two of us, we were able to replicate Nagato fairly well. Again, I think this is the culmination of simply training very hard on these things, and paying attention to what he said.
I guess we were doing something right, since he came up and asked what rank I was. I explained he had promoted me to 8th Dan last September. I also explained that I would be here next September, which according to him would be when I was eligible for 9th Dan.
“I recommend you for 9th dan. I’ll write letter.”
I was shocked and a bit humbled. I was also a bit worried since I had been hesitant with Shiraishi, and what he said. Now Nagato is going to write a letter. Hopefully this doesn’t create any issues. All I can do is be genuine and see what happens.
He then asked Pablo’s rank – Shodan. “Promote him.”
We were estatic. Truthfully I was more proud that he told me to promote Pablo than anything. Being noticed is great, but for one of my students to be noticed is a huge compliment.
We were also getting alot of attention from him, as he would often come up and make small corrections. The rest of the class was too, as it seemed he was in the mood to give more hands on teachings. It was my best class with him yet.
I joined Brian’s group and met Matt Harvey to go to Someya’s. Matt was hilarious as always and we get along great together. He really does what he can to be polite and keep Someya in a good mood. Also, his technique is flawless.
After everything today, Someya was nothing less than an ego check. His attention to detail and expectations are very high.
We continued with Happo keri, keri kudaki, and Ken kudaki. My legs were dying and I realized how little flexibility I really had. It put in perspective how sloppy my technique is comparatively.
At the end of class we sat and Someya was gracious enough to offer his insights and answer our questions. You can tell is very much a purist; the techniques must be mastered before attempting what Soke or the other Shihan are doing. After all, they went through this type of hard training before they got where they are now.
Onward to tomorrow and living up to more challenges and expectations.