2011 has been an interesting year so far, especially in my aikido. I thought it would be good to post a summary of the year so far, and compare it to last year.
I trained a total of 136.5 hours in the first 6 months of 2011, a nice improvement over the 102 hours in same period in 2010. I would have liked to train more, but I did manage to train regularly, making it to the dojo 3 or 4 days every week, except for the 3 weeks I was away.
‘Training hours by month.’
‘Cummulative Training Hours.’
I began the year training 5 or 6 days a week, in preparation for [my shodan (black belt) test]. I received my Shodan certificate in late February.
‘I passed my shodan test!’
All shaken up
A few weeks later, on 11th March, life in Japan became a whole lot different, due to the massive Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The earthquake itself was quite scary, I was on the 29th floor at work and the building swayed and creaked a lot, but thankfully the damage in Tokyo was minimal (unlike the devastation up north). I went to aikido training as normal the morning following the earthquake, there were only 7 students in beginners class.
More scary was the news of the damage to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, and then the completely empty shelves at the supermarket.
‘No food left at the convenience store.’
A few days later I made the decision to take an unplanned 2 week vacation and head down to Kyoto, unsure if I’d ever return. Thankfully disaster was averted, and life in Tokyo had mostly returned to normal after the 2 weeks, apart from power cuts which luckily didn’t affect me too much. The two weeks off had given me a chance to recover from the harder training I’d been doing before my black belt test, and I was eager to get back into training.
The new normal
Training at Hombu Dojo soon returned to normal. I have been able to train 3 or 4 days a week since the beginning of April, and even though I’d like to train more this has been my limit, factoring in work and injuries. Getting used to wearing a hakama was difficult, but I mostly don’t notice it any more. I’m enrolled in my second semester of “Advanced Gakko”, and I get called up to take ukemi quite a lot during class, which I enjoy immensely. The Shinjuku Sports Center Dojo reopened again in June, after being closed as part of the power saving measures, and it’s great to train there again.
- My shodan test – undoubtedly the highlight of my year.
- Taking lots of ukemi for my teachers in Advanced Gakko (Kobayashi Sensei and Katsurada Sensei).
- Taking part in the 49th All Japan Aikido Demonstration as part of the Advanced Gakko class.
- Being called up as uke twice in ippan class (3rd floor at Hombu), the first time by Toriumi Sensei, the second time by Kobayashi Sensei. I was very surprised and honoured both times.
- Taking ukemi for a shodan test at the Shinjuku Sports Center dojo in June. 石井さん、昇段おめでとうございます～！
Aikido is still a regular part of my life, and for that I’m grateful.