As it turned out, my welcome back was fairly benign. Sensei seemed mildly curious as to where I had been, but he never really asked outright. Just sort of gave me a quizzical look when I walked in. As I stretched, I explained that I had pulled a muscle in my shoulder, an action which entitled me to another round of a story about Sensei’s black belt test (which, if he is to be believed, took eleven hours, and during which, he consumed fourteen coca-cola’s. And may have had a dislocated shoulder the previous week. But I digress).
Then it was back into the training. The class, oddly, was composed almost entirely of white belts, three of whom were even newer to the club than I am. After warm ups, those three were cordoned off, while I was permitted to stay with the higher ranks. I admit, I was a little surprised—I had expected to be sent back to what Tim refers to as “the kids table”. I wouldn’t have objected, but I guess Sensei felt like I was still moving well enough to justify sticking me with the big boys.
We started with some ground work, and for the first time, I received some actual technical instruction on what I was supposed to be doing. One of the guys I was rolling with actually showed me a couple of sweeps, and another took the time to explain to me the basic goals of the drill we were doing (essentially, pass the guard and pin). While I certainly had some unpleasant moments (including one round where I spent two minutes pinned with my leg in an incredibly awkward position), it was a wonderful learning experience, and I felt like I added something to my repertoire.
We then moved into standing randori. There, I actually felt a little clumsier, though I still got some good work done. With the tournament in the past, the higher ranks seemed more willing to take their time and let me try and work things out. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t get my butt kicked, but it was much less aggressive than previous classes.
We ended things up with some throwing, which was fine. My Ippon Seionage still stinks, but I suspect that will continue for a while.
And if nothing else, it’s great to be back.