When I was a white belt, a black belt had tried to encourage me to keep practicing by saying that if I kept working at it, the “fear of falling becomes the fun of flying.”
Those words have been with me ever since. It did not make sense to me when I was first practicing, that’s for sure. As I watched higher-ranked folks soaring through the air in big falls, I kept concentrating on not hurting myself. Of course, then I got hurt several times, and I had to learn from that hurt.
This week during practice, I was twice called up to demonstrate as uke (attacker) a big fall from ushiro sankyo (grabbing from behind)– and I was launched into the air by the instructors. It’s not the first time I’ve caught air, but the first time that I thought it was fun. So much fun, that when we then practiced in a line, I said, breathlessly, “That is an awesome ride!” And did it several more times after that.
My aikido has been feeling really centered these days. There’s always room for improvement, though. I finally was able to view the video of my last test, and although I did reasonably well, there are aspects I need to work on– more confident footwork, more gracefulness. So I keep practicing.