Last Friday, we covered suwari ryote mochi kokyuho, the last technique of Mugenjuku’s Dai Ichi series of techniques. That means our first exam is just around the corner! In fact, it’s on June 17th… unless we aren’t prepared in time… in which case it will be toward the end of June. Mugenjuku’s ippan students are also testing in June, so the whole dojo is abuzz with nervous energy as people ramp into test mode.
Kenshusei test preparation started in earnest this week. Today was exhausting. We started at the beginning of Dai Ichi and went through every technique, attempting the precision, energy, and pacing needed for the exam. Payet-sensei: “In the exam, everything must be perfect.” Perfect! I was hoping for something more along the lines of “in the exam, try not to trip over yourselves and embarrass me too much,” but if it wasn’t striving for perfection, it wouldn’t be Payet-sensei.
Test preparation is rather intimidating. In order to do it correctly, you really have to shut off your brain and perform the techniques out of instinct or habit. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that you have to change from thinking about the technique to thinking about issues more central to every technique, like whether you’re balanced enough, whether your movement is originating from your center, etc. Either way you look at it, there can’t be any doubt in your mind about the details of the individual technique. If there is, you will either lose focus or freeze up.
Every day, the Kenshusei shinkoku toban (the ceremonial leader–it rotates between Izzy, Takenaga, and myself each week) has to write a short diary of the day’s practice in a dojo journal. The journal is three years long (2012-2014), so we can look back each day and see what Nick, Yannick, and Yasuda were doing at this time last year. Last year at this time, Nick wrote “we covered all Dai Ichi waza today!” Today, we only managed to get from shihonage through hiji shime. So we are a little behind. Hopefully, we’ll pick up the slack in the next week and a half. As I’m falling asleep tonight, I’m going to visualize Crampton-sensei after the exam with a big smile on his face, saying “I love it when a test comes together”… queue theme music…
In other kenshusei news, as we were headed to Ueshiba’s grave last week, we found out Izzy was featured on Cracked.com Unfortunately, Mugenjuku didn’t seem to get any good press from that opportunity.
Takenaga is starting English lessons and cooks a mean rice ball with her own miso recipe, including umeboshi plums and ginger. Oishi!
And I’m looking at buying “Mosquito killer.” Now that it’s summery weather, I am awakened every night by mosquitos. I can’t figure out how they get in the apartment, but they like to bite my face and forehead. I guess that’s Kyoto for you. Next it’ll be the wild boars in the garbage and giant salamanders in the bathtub.