A week ago Sunday was Peter's class. He had us doing kotagaeshi from every attack. This was a fun class. It seems as though we have been devoting Sundays to lots of 1st kyu practice in general. No one that comes Sunday morning is ready for 1st kyu, shodan or nidan test. Still. It's excellent practice.
Friday night at Shodokan. We started with some easy iriminage. I had a beginner as a partner. He's a much older, stiffer, individual. I tried to make sure I never pushed him beyond his limit. Later on I saw someone else had him as a partner and he had to leave the mat. I never found out why. I'm thinking that person overestimated his ukemi.
We did aiki-otoshi after that. I don't usually like this technique but I had one of the more flexible students as a partner. Actually, she sort of grabbed me for a partner. We settled into a nice rhythm of practice. Both of us taking ukemi. I'm in the habit for that technique to either use my hand to slide down uke's back, or to put it back for an easy ukemi. What she was doing in addition though was interesting. She had a grip on my gi and put her hand back for the ukemi. The result was an ukemi with very little impact. Very cool. I tried it.
At some point I had Joanna as a partner. We were doing a technique to unbalance uke and pull them by the inside of the elbow forward so that they are past your center. Your other arm/hand is in their face so when they get drawn towards you they bend back to avoid getting a hand in the face. Then you can treat it as iriminage. So we do a bunch of rounds and sure enough she starts resisting. She's fun that way. Once in a while she will do something unexpected. I still tried to do the technique but her force was applied in direct opposition. Since in a real situation I wouldn't keep fighting with her I just did something else. The attack for uke was katemenuchi so I just took the grab hand and did a nikkyo. At one point she did the strike suddenly and I reacted. That was pretty good.
Sunday morning Peter had us doing knife disarms. Great class.
This practice had me thinking. Here is a general question regarding shihonage technique. I have been told in the past that for a yokomen strike you want to use only one hand to bring the strike down. During knife disarms, I have been told to use two hands on the striking arm. I have also been told on other occassions that the reason you practice a particular technique a certain way is that you want to have the response be automatic(muscle memory). So.... if you want to practice such that you always respond the same way to a yokomen attack (knife or no knife) why would you only use one hand. That means that when you are attacked with a knife in that manner that you'll have to think about your response or worse you may do the wrong thing and end up getting cut up.
I'm overdue for a 2nd kyu test. Although there shouldn't be issues surrounding this.... there are. I have to decide where to take it. I actually took my 3rd kyu test a full two years ago and have yet to have my paperwork sent in. I'm not hung up on rank(if I were I'd be testing more often) but this is beyond ridiculous. I've reminded sensei about this on three(perhaps four) occassions over the years. At one point I even volunteered to send everyone's paperwork in.
I have a concern that my 'time in grade' will get messed up by all this and some day when I am ready to test I will have a problem. I've read about such cases. I'd rather test at Shodokan, however, I'm concerned that the next set of paperwork(2nd kyu) will not be sent in either. I'm worried that if the paperwork isn't sent in and Sensei retires that it will NEVER get done. The last person at Shodokan to test elsewhere was thrown out of the dojo. She was a serious, and very talented student. Losing her, diminished the dojo. Her testing elsewhere touched on a sensitive spot so she was thrown out. Is this still a sensitive issue? I have no idea.
Still, what are my choices? Never test again? Test and not have the paperwork ever sent in or test elsewhere? Terrific. They say in aikido that you should be aware and not get into bad situations. How was I thrust into this position? How could I have avoided this?
To those of you who think that even mentioning this in a 'public' forum is disrespectful (although in reality only about 8-10 people will read this and they already know what's going on). Perhaps it is, and I apologize to any that might be offended but the message being sent and received is that responsibilities to the students don't matter. After two full years, what else am I supposed to think? Some people have left the dojo in the past over this very issue. It seems silly to me that this should even be happening.