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Archive for November, 2009

Recent photos

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

See gallery for photos from Sensei Haydn Foster’s course and 2009 Dan grading.

Senior Kyu Gradings November 8th 2009

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

 Sensei Barbara announced the beginning of the grading: “Richard Bradford”. That’s me. First up. Breathe. It’s a verb, an action word, and not exactly a new concept in life yet I find myself physically unable to do so. As with the Aikido moves I have just stood up to do for my very first grading, it is nothing new but since I stood up my chest feels locked. No spare brain power for breaths and no desire for the act of breathing to get in the way – everything focused on remembering the techniques. No spare brain power except for the nagging knowledge that it will be impossible to complete the entire grading holding my breath.

 Three techniques in and my chest feels encased in cement. Didn’t think to bring a hammer and chisel and never expected to feel so tunnel-focused on the Aikido itself. Not seeing stars yet but bound to soon. Damn, forgot an atemi – still too busy fighting for air. It’s like trying to inflate an internal balloon made of industrial rubber, by sucking through a capilliary tube. I’ve heard it said that in martial arts, before you can overcome your opponent, you first have to overcome your inner self. Lungs, in this case. Dave, the people’s Uke given that he did so for five of us, is kindly playing ball with whatever I do.

 Somehow I draw enough air to finish the grading without passing out and kneel back down, panting to recovery and thinking that ‘at least next time it will be easier’, a bit of ‘been there, done that’. Sensei  Marianne (Mary Anne?) who chatted to us afterwards and told the tale of a Tai Chi breathing technique instructor who even went purple during his Aikido grading. Do Aikido-ists reading this agree that the idea of it getting easier, ‘been there, done that’, never happens? That it is always that intense regardless of grade. Does that put me off taking another grading? No. Just between now and then I am going to learn to hold my breath for 3 minutes or, failing that, at least learn how to discretely pause for a second to allow air in. Either way, I love practicing Aikido at Phoenix Aikido and remain very grateful for all the kindness, knowledge and expertise that has been sent to me and all the others who train there; with an extra personal thanks to the three instructors whose classes I normally attend: Barbara, Steve and Colin; and thanks too to everyone else. Hate to quote a supermarket but ‘every bit helps’. And, as with every organisation, the style and character of Phoenix Aikido comes from the top down; in this case from the founders, Senseis Barbara and Tom Moss.

 Richard Bradford  6th Kyu

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