I love this class. I love it as much as I loved bellydancing, back in the day, before my bellydancing studio dissolved into a mess of toxic politics and I took the coward's way out. (i.e., I stopped showing up for class.) And that was back in 2001. It's funny; people are free to ask questions and make jokes; sensei is kind of amazing in the breadth of his knowledge; and there are very few egos on display (and those that are, are getting their edges gently chipped away by the senior blackbelts).
Today we were doing O-goshi (a hip throw) from various starting positions: front grapple and rear wrist grab, mostly, and man, I need to bend my knees more. And get more hip into it, though I'm starting to get the hang of it. (my partner said my kuzushi was good today (for, I mean, a white belt) and that was one of the better things I've heard this week.)
One of today's cooler exercises was for our partners to teach us the throw without words, and without physically positioning our bodies--just teaching by demonstration and gesture. As a kinesthetic learner, I loved that. I'm sure it was more frustrating for my uke. but she had the hard job.
I think I've mentioned that I really enjoy being a novice at martial arts. It's sort of a blessed state of innocence. Once upon a time, I would have been very ashamed of my lack of knowledge, and trying like heck to make up for it in any way possible. But now--well, sometime in my thirties I learned how to learn. And part of learning is accepting that there's a world of stuff you don't know. And that the only way to learn it is to be open to it.
Eventually I will get better at it, and have more expectations for myself. But for now, my goal is not to hurt my martner, and not to hurt myself, and to do things as well, technically, as I can. And right now, it's a nice reminder that not every aspect of my life has to be fraught with performance anxiety.
It cracks me up, sometimes, how much of sensei's philosophy-of-learning speeches sound like things that I say to my students. That what we are doing is learning techniques that are tools, suited or not suited to various situations. That the more comfortable you are with those tools, the more applications you find for them, and the greater your ease of use. That there is no perfection, only iterative attempts to get better. That learning a complex system (like a communicative art, or a martial one) is a lifetime process.
I'm also one of the older students in the class--most of them are high school students, a few college types--and that's nice too. It's an interesting reversal of the usual social power dynamic.
This is very good for my soul.
Speaking of performance anxiety, I'm still climbing down a couple of grades while waiting for my pulley tendon to heal, and that too is a nice reminder. Because I can do these climbs; I'm even good at some of them; and it reminds me of my progress in this sport in ways that I tend to forget when I'm pushing out at the edge of my ability.
I mean, it doesn't do to get sloppy and backside. But maybe in life I can accept that I do not always, always, have to be giving a hundred and fifty percent.
Although boy, I'm pretty sure that the writing will always demand that. 'Cause god, I don't want to be That Guy. You know the guy. The "I respect his early work" guy.
But, yanno. Maybe I don't have to be beating my head against the rocks of the limits of my ability every goddamned minute. Maybe once in a while I can write something fun and challenging that's not an absolute strain, and not even feel too guilty about it.
I might even wind up writing some books I like, rather than ones I can see all the places where my skill didn't quite stretch.
The trick, I guess, is to balance that with not allowing my ambition to create better art wane. Because there are also things to be learned by practicing the basics, more and more perfectly each time. There is a reason musicians play scales.