mid-June update


This post originally appeared on my AikiWeb blog, Kyoto Kenshusei…

Sorry I dropped posting. There are multiple reasons including fatigue and constant aches and pains. I’ve also been much shorter on time since I got a job teaching English.

Here are some important updates…

visa & job status

My Cultural Visa application was approved very quickly, despite a lot of handwringing. So for the next year, I am a resident alien in Japan. About the same time, I was offered a job teaching English, so I actually have enough income to pay rent and dojo fees and buy some food. However, I am living on the equivalent of about 110% of the US Census Bureau’s poverty line. If you know anything about economics, you know what that means.

kenshusei progression

Yesterday, we had our first exam, for the “Dai Ichi” set of waza. We all passed up through 4th-kyu, although when the instructors talk to us about the test, they sometimes break eye contact, which I think means they were disappointed. I would have rather gotten a lower rank and be told straight up why, but I’m not the sensei.

So now Dai Ni begins…


knee pain, etc

My knees are just shot. I was hoping that they would get more flexible, but no luck. Sometimes I can sit in seiza properly, but usually not. It’s not just pain. Sometimes the butt just can’t get down to the heels. Too stiff. I can get down into seiza ho a little easier, but basically I am too crippled to do aikido properly. At this point, I am just getting a pass since my problem is actually medical in nature.

I have also started developing other aches and pains, especially my lower back and neck. Sometimes I can’t stand up straight first thing in the morning… fun stuff!!

getting weaker and weaker

One thing I had not anticipated about the kenshusei course was deconditioning. We start every day with a conditioning class, but at the age of 36, my body just doesn’t recover like it used to. So instead of getting stronger and stronger, I am getting weaker and weaker. My weight has actually not changed since the beginning of the course, which I find to be odd. My body shape is changing, so I’m not sure what’s going on. Thinner+same weight+weaker=?

For example, when I left the US for Mongolia, I could do at least 50 push-ups with great form without too much difficulty. Almost a year later, at the start of the Kenshusei Course this April, I could do 30-40 with good form and then some more with poor form. Now I am down to about 10-15 with good form, and after 25-30, I can’t honestly call what I’m doing a push-up anymore.

I really hadn’t anticipated lacking energy and feeling weak all the time. I started aikido in part to regain the feeling of freedom that comes from correct kinesiological movement. So this aspect of the course has been a really big disappoint for me.

Well, thanks for tuning back into the blog. I will try to post soon on some of our exciting Kenshusei adventures, like visiting Ueshiba’s grave in Wakayama.