First step on a long road, hopefully!
So yes, that's an offiical "level up" - or something like half a level up, at any rate. I knew it would come eventually because I know when grading is scheduled, but letting go of the expectation and attachment to "doing well" has been a hard piece of work for me to get through. It genuinely took me by surprise tonight and so it's all the sweeter.
In terms of the lesson we focused a lot on blocks and punches, which I've definitely improved on from last time. I really enjoy these sessions because they tap directly into my preference for watch-and-learn work, rather than trying to pick it up on the fly as it's done. I have lots more to do on kicking, not least the need for an emergency conference with Jane at yoga on Friday! Sensei had us do the kicks very slowly tonight, holding the positions and maintaining balance for a minute at least. My balance is pretty good already and I was delighted that Jane had, yet again (I think she's psychic!), done work on the exact thing I needed to know earlier in the week. She too had had the class holding poses, focusing on breathing, the "soft gaze", and the ability to observe and let go of thoughts which undermine you. What I need from her now is to help me figure out how I can improve my hip rotation outwards - it looks like side kicks are going to be a problem, particularly on the right, because I could not hold my leg out in that rotation for more than a few seconds without pain. I know the interior muscles are slacker than average - which is why I can do butterfly splits with my knees on the floor without trying - so it would suggest the opposing muscles are too tight. The hamstrings are almost certainly playing in to that too so I need to get serious about stretching those every day.
If she doesn't have any bright ideas, I have a physio appointment coming up in a couple of weeks, and I could always go back to the sports physio in Bolton. I have to say, it's really nice to be understanding my own anatomy at last - I wish I'd known this stuff when I was much younger, rather than going through many, many years of pain and avoiding even the simplest of exercise.