I'm not sure if I've written about the sitting order hierarchy of the dojo before but I'll cover it again. In each class there are usually at least three rows of students seated before the instructor comes on the mat. The unspoken rule is usually that the students in the front row are going to give you quite a work out and are usually the ones used for demonstration by the instructor. The second row is, surprise surprise, about in the middle. Second row will give you a work out but usually won't kick your ass. The third row and any others behind it are generally for beginners or anyone who wants a chill class. As the class begins these rules still apply. If you choose to work with a partner up front close to the shomen (front of the dojo) you're going to work HARD and it gets a little more relaxed the further back you go.
For the last few months I've been focusing on the middle rows and I made a promise to myself that I would sit in the front row for every class when I got back from Thanksgiving Holiday...after a week people are starting to notice. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not yet. I've picked up the level and intensity of training another notch and I'm hoping I can keep up with it.
Donovan Waite Sensei (for those of you who don't know he's kind of a big deal) usually has his small group of people that he uses for demos. He was here on Sunday afternoon as well as Monday for two classes and he called me up for ukemi for the first time in all three classes. Tenchinage, shihonage (great for my elbow!), and kokyunage...good lord (I know those names are not exactly descriptive for anyone outside of aikido, I'm trying to find a website that can give me illustrations or movies)
On Tuesday afternoon Luis teaches a class and then Luke teaches the last two. Luis used me exclusively for demonstrations the entire class. For other aikido people you may know that the time during demonstration is the one and only time during the class that you have a chance to sit down and catch your breath...I wasn't so lucky. For the last two classes Luke used me 85%-90% of the time for demos. Now that I think about it, I've been used in every class since I've gotten back from my break. Sadly it's starting to show. Yesterday Luke used me for a particularly violent iriminage and I felt my knee do something funny. I had an intense sensation of what felt like a bee sting under/in the tendon just below my knee cap of my right knee and then it began to swell. I sat the last class out and iced it as much as possible. This morning it was a little tender but it didn't sting anymore. So basically no more suwari waza (techniques done on the knees) and I'll be modifying my ukemi in some odd way to compensate.
So basically I'm wondering if I'm ready to hang with the Big Dogs or if I need to stay with the muts for the time being...we'll see how it goes!
P.S. I'm on it Gina :)