A Leap Forward

SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENED on the mat today. Amazing to me only, I understand, but it didn’t feel any less good for that.

Today was the birthday of the founder and head of our school, and our instructor decided to celebrate by making the second evening class a conditioning class. We began with sets of back breakfalls, then weapon strikes, alternating. Then we did sets of knee taps (a real torture to fatigued legs) and a final set of back breakfalls.

This was all fine with me. Bring it on! But one thing always bugs me in classes like this – after a couple sets of back breakfalls, I cannot stand up from them without using my hands. Very frustrating. But tonight, set after set went by, and except for a couple where I didn’t fully get my hips off the mat rocking back, I stood up from all of them without using hands – including the final set!

I feel like I’ve made a leap forward in the last couple of weeks. I notice an improved sense of control and posture as Shite. Weapon forms feel more natural, and I can strike harder and deeper while maintaining balance. My forward rolls, perennially a work in progress for me, feel larger and straighter. I’m not certain how much of this is real vs. imagined, but when I visited another class a couple of weeks ago, the instructor told me he saw an improvement in my technique since the last time we’d trained together. It’s just one data point, but I’ll take it.

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