I KNELT FOR THE START OF ADVANCED CLASS WITH ONLY MYSELF TO BLAME for being there. Wednesday is usually a running day, but as this is my final week of heavy training and I hadn’t been to the advanced class yet, I shuffled my schedule around and went to the dojo tonight. After the first class of stretching and practicing some testing techniques, I was ready for the big event.
Advanced class is limited to brown belts and above, and the intensity of the training is matched by the intensity of those who attend it. My Rec & Ed Club instructor was there, and we wound up as training partners. He is a sandan (third-degree black belt) and accustomed to hard training. So am I, to a certain extent, but I knew I was in for a wild ride, so to speak.
The first technique we studied was a relatively simple one that we did many times, very fast. Sensei stressed that Uke (the person being thrown) should be extra flexible and off-balance, and let’s just say my partner made following those instructions very easy. After being dragged around in a circle and thrown hard to the mat, I got up and charged right back in. Again. And again. And… Fortunately, I also got a turn to do the dragging and throwing, which had the added benefit of allowing me to catch my breath just a bit.
But this class is about more than just going until you drop. We also had a chance to practice a (very effective) shoulder pin, and to study a technique in detail, step by step. This part alone made me glad I’d attended. For tests at my level, details like posture, position of hands and feet, and proper movement are essential to performing techniques correctly.
Three very nice results occurred from attending advanced class tonight. First, although I made plenty of mistakes, I had a great time and learned a lot. Second, I got a nice compliment from my partner on my training pace (“Jeff-san never slowed down”). And third, the nagging soreness in my knees I’ve been feeling most of this month disappeared, and I could comfortably kneel in seiza at the end of class. We’ll see how I’m feeling tomorrow at noon class, but I’ll take it for now.