Thursday, 28 June 2012

Passing my grading and moving forward

So yesterday I passed my sankyu 3rd level brown belt grading. It was a very humid evening and the hall was stuffy. The humidity and the heat were a little oppressive and made gripping difficult as both mine and my uke's skin became slipperly with sweat. The waza section of the grading seemed to go on for hours as techniques were called out from the head Shihan which we performed and then repeated until he was happy to move on. I felt sorry for my uke as I performed Yoko Katata Osae Dori over and over again, a half-standing technique involving applying a painful wrist lock before throwing them to the ground. The standing waza felt similarly protracted and by the time we had finished I was feeling a little dejected at the thought of completing 50 more techniques for my variations.

Nevertheless I persevered as I went through each section of the variations starting with Hakko Dori (escape from an opening) through the Kotegaeshi and Shodan wrist locks and onto the Otoshi's (throws) and Nihonages (four-directional throws) before finishing with Ube Doris (finger locks) and shimites (strangles and constriction). As my uke withered under the intensity and heat I eased up on my atemis and tried to keep my finishes simple, something that frustrated me as I was torn between trying to look as good as possible and remaining in control of the techniques.

When I had completed all of the techniques needed for my grading I left the mat tired and disappointed. As there is no competition in Aiki-Jujutsu the grading is one of the most important ways in which to gain experience of reacting under pressure. The techniques are meant to be executed with skill and penache and your level of control - both over your uke and your emotions is meant to improve. From that perspective the grading was good experience; comparing how I composed myself compared to my blue belt grading I do think I have made progress - I was much calmer and the techniques came more easily to memory. It gives me encouragement that the techniques are beginning to set into my muscle memory and the many variations required come far more naturally to me now than when I first began training in them for my green belt a year ago.

I am happy in myself that I can see the progress I am making. My martial arts experience is far from complete but I am another step closer to achieving my goal of becoming a well-rounded and competent martial artist. The success I have enjoyed in Aiki-Jujutsu has given me the confidence and the passion to expand my horizons and seek to fulfil my potential in other arts, especially combat sports such as Judo or Karate. Together through the combination of traditional bujutsu/budos and combat sports I believe I will gain the skills, techniques and experience to be able to reasonably protect myself and grow as a human being, becoming more respectful, disciplined and compassionate.

Incidently passing my sankyu brown belt grading also gives me the right to wear the Hakama, which I have always seen as a symbol both of the art's heritage and of excellence. I am proud to be able to train in the Hakama, another connection to the Samurai roots of the art as well as an incentive to be worthy of the rank. I am a role model and example to the more junior students and therefore should embody and train to the standard of excellence that the Hakama represents.

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