In preparation for our grading test our Sensei decided it was time to test our ki.
Ki: is frequently translated as “energy flow”.
The class was full of ‘new’ students and when Sensei screamed “give them the ki test!” to Sempai right before getting inside his car we all looked at each other with our eyebrows reaching our hairline. I knew about ki exercises because I had done them before, it’s a way to make you “feel” ki so that you can reach for it when you need it in practice. But I didn’t remember ever being tested for it.
Not surprisingly the class started with a refresher on how to stand properly. Then we changed feet and did some forms and then we were told to stay still at some random point during the forms.
That’s when Sempai started pushing us backwards and forwards and we started to break our forms and flail our limbs all over to prevent our faces from hitting the mat. After laughing at us he taught us individually how to maintain our ‘center’ (we believe our center is under the navel and it’s the base of our balance and our strength. This sounds all crazy and mystical but believe me, I have moved a 300 pound man, moved him AND thrown him to the floor; IT EXISTS.) while standing. Basically he taught us to breathe properly and lower our weight into our center (that is the magic here) and stay relaxed.
This guy pushed at me with his whole body and I could FEEL his strength ‘bouncing’ off me while I remained unmoved. One word: awesome.
We continued to change positions, practice falls and explore forms while he randomly stopped us and pushed us to check we were ‘centered’. At one point he did the test while we had one arm extended in front of us, NOT straight but curved (this is a common stance position, you’ve at least seen it in movies) and he pushed the arm toward us as if to bend it, since the arm is already curved is much vulnerable to this; but not when you use ki!
He pushed my arm with his body (and I know this because he was completely leaning towards me) and my arm remained still and so relaxed I was happily moving all my fingers while drops of sweat were forming on his forehead. Cool doesn’t even begin to cover the feeling.
My ultimate super woman moment was when he tested us while seating in seiza.
Firstly you can’t even begin to try this if you can’t seat in seiza correctly and that is a task on it’s own. It takes time to stretch the curve of the feet enough so that you can put all your weight in them. It’s very uncomfortable and it hurts. Secondly, I have a disadvantage that I hate to mention when it comes to Aikido and it is that I’m (in comparison) ‘too light’. The good thing about this is that I REALLY learn the techniques the way they are meant to be performed because my body forces me to make every move the way it’s suppose to be done (otherwise I can’t get my opponent off of me, so when I’m doing something wrong I know because my partner doesn’t move), many times I end up ‘overcompensating’ because I use my center so much more than the guys, my throws come out really strong while theirs are ‘toned down’ because they are doing exactly the opposite (they are holding strength back, more often than not because they are not using their centers at all, they can just use their muscles so that’s what they do, and it’s ‘harder’ for them to concentrate on their center).
For this exercise I really needed all my weight plus lots of mental magic to remain sitting straight while Sempai pushed my torso backwards and forwards. I am not going to lie, I tried to ‘be a rock’ and ‘feel like a rock’ and every other crazy thought that made me ‘feel’ heavier. And make no mistake; IT WORKED. I wish I could describe the feeling with special effects; my hips felt like they weighted a ton, my legs gave in a little and my feet made the perfect space for me to sit in them completely and it felt natural. That was the freaky part, the fact that I could do it just like that.
So the next goal is to be able to throw someone using just a ki finger. I can already hold someone down with just one finger, but throwing them will be the challenge. I’ll let you know how that goes.