Little House In Ise

Pushing Physical Limits
July 28, 2008, 11:34
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Japan | Tags: , , , , , ,

Training with an athletic and skilled partner is one of the great pleasures of Aikido. Finding someone with whom you can establish a physical rapport and then push each other bit by bit to the edge of control is not for the weak hearted. Another thing that the weak of heart may want to avoid is training in the moist heat of Tokyo summer. It may well push your body to altogether different, less pleasant, limits.

Tokyo summer is still heating up and the humidity is far more than what I grew up with in the the American West (Wyoming is a large, dry, rectangle in the US part of the Rocky Mountains). Though morning is relatively cool, the humid air of the third floor dojo clings. Doing a stretch or two makes even the most robust members of the class dripping wet. My running joke has been that we could save electricity by not cooking our rice anymore. Just leaving a pot out in the dojo over night would be enough to steam it.

Today I partnered with a strong yudansha who, in the past, has enjoyed “kicking it up a notch”. Today, the thick air and the heat had us moving slowly from the start and by the time we got to jiyu waza I was not moving at all. I have experienced many instances of physical exhaustion bringing out out my best Aikido — muscle is not an option and breath alone makes it all happen. This was _not_ the case today. I was so sapped of will that doing a proper tenkan became a challenge. My partner did a much better job of holding his form but even his stoicism cracked a bit when my hands kept (unintentionally) slipping out of nikyo because we were slippery with sweat.

This is a valid form of training that does push physical limits but I’m damned if I can recommend it. Knowing how ones body reacts under certain forms of physical duress is useful information. That said I’m not sure how much it improves Aikido (my Aikido anyway). Perhaps summer is the time to focus an slower more controlled movement while cooler times are for training in higher gear.

Happy Rolling!


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