Not for the first time, I think I need to shell out for some slightly nicer clothes.

I've been much more tired than usual the past couple of weeks, to the point where I think I'm fighting off an infection; but my aikido test is a week from Thursday, and all told it's not so great for me to severely reduce my training leading up to the test; and it's important to push myself at least a little. So I went to class. I'm testing for 3rd kyu: successive ranks are 2nd kyu, 1st kyu, and then black belt. in our part of the aikido community, 4th and 3rd kyu wear blue belts, and 2nd and 1st kyu wear brown belts. At brown belt, you start getting pushed noticeably harder, including what we call "thrashing", basically where a black belt throws you, not necessarily very hard, but without giving you a rest in between falls, until you get very tired.

My teacher decided to challenge me tonight. I am very tired. I lost my breath: there comes a point where you run out of air, and you have to control your breathing even though it hurts or you'll hyperventilate. And you have to keep going. Which I did, even though my muscles were out of energy and I felt like I was wading through mud. So that's all good.

I finally have a target to throw knives at, which is more difficult and more satisfying than throwing them into my lawn. I'm starting to get a real feel for what works and what doesn't in a throwing knife, and as I look at them I realize that they can't possibly be that difficult to forge by hand with some machining. They're just shaped and drilled bars of metal: they're not meant to be sharp, just pointy and kind of balanced, with (in general) nothing as complicated as a grip or handle that you'd find and want on a cutting knife. This observation comes just as I'm starting to kick into gear with finding stuff I can blacksmith with: maybe tomorrow I will get a thick metal round to use as a makeshift anvil, and while I'm at the scrapyard for that (it's less than a mile from my house), I'll look for stuff I can make into a coke forge. And then I'll get some coke, and I know where to get a hammer, whereupon I will be underway: the minimum gear is fire to heat the metal, hammer to hit it with, and something heavy to hit against. And eventually I'll have a drill press and a disc or belt grinder. It feels good to be closer to getting started, even on anything basic.