It turns out I have more work to do than I thought. This is partly because of how much there is to do, and partly because of how inefficiently I've been doing it. Oh well. (In part it's inefficient because it's complicated, but I haven't exactly been laser-focused on work lately.)
I suddenly grew some energy for aikido, so last night was a pretty active class. We also practiced a technique involving very fast punches to the face, which I love. We don't do it often: the standard aikido punch is to the stomach, where, since we're not using board-breaking amounts of force, you're really not going to damage anyone if they don't get out of the way. Your nose is fragile, of course, so there's an added risk, and an added amount of trust and finesse, when punching to the face. I did this exercise with my friend Tim, who before his two decades of aikido did several years of karate, and I can always rely on him for an honest, challenging attack. And it was marvelous. I relaxed, let everything sink in, and noticed every moment. When you throw a punch, no matter how you do it, there's a signal right beforehand; if you practice punching a lot, your goal is to make the signal as difficult to notice as possible. It's a shift in weight, a slight drop of the shoulder, any number of things, that when you're being present and aware, give you the extra time you need. That's one of the secrets of martial arts: your reflexes are limited by anatomy, but you learn to wake up and pay attention, so you have more time in which to react.
At any rate, no one got hit. On one of Tim's punches, I left it so much to the last millisecond that his fist brushed the hair on the end of my nose.
My life kicks ass.
In theory, Leslie and I are currently training to be weapons instructors for the dojo, since our two backups are both moving away. This is fun because I enjoy weapons, and I've always wanted to teach in aikido at least a little bit. I'm at a point in my training now where I find I know things well enough to more or less comfortably explain them to beginners. My Zen teacher joined the dojo some weeks back, and says I'm a good instructor, so I'll take her word for it.