We spent the class working on the first 4 releases where one person did the release with 3 others attacking him, one after the other, from wherever they stood. After that, we did the same thing over again, but now adding a hand change.
The interesting thing to me was the difference in timing between all the participants. The two brown belts tended to be almost startled most of the time, if even in a very subtle way. Even though they knew what release we were supposed to be doing, they weren't sure which hand to stick out, who was attacking next, or even if they had remembered to do the right release (I kept telling them I didn't care; as long as they got off the line and kept moving, aikido would come out). Most of their reactions fell along the lines of, "Oh, crap, I'm being attacked! What do I do?"
The shodan, however, seemed a little more in control. He could still be a little surprised by which one of us grabbed him next, but for the most part, he moved when he was supposed to move and didn't worry about it as much if something odd came out.
I, on the other hand, almost felt ahead of the movement in a way. I'm not trying to brag on myself or anything. I wasn't trying to do anything but the same drill everyone else was doing. But I found myself nearly always slightly ahead, with uke chasing helpless after my hand. I could even almost control who attacked me and when, like I was a conductor of a symphony. Strange.
And while the others had a tendency to want to stop and analyze what happened when something outside of the plan happened, it was obvious to me ("Oh, you just gripped this way instead of that, and move here instead of there and did this technique instead the other one. No biggie.") They wanted to know what went "wrong" (because it wasn't part of the drill), while I'm standing around saying, "Wow, that was a lovely tenkai kote hineri..."
I suppose it all comes with time and training and the degree to which the movements are ingrained into the subconscious. But I was surprised by the amount of "control" I seemed to have (again, without trying!) and even a certain amount of prescience, knowing a split second ahead of time where they were going and when. And then, when I didn't know, and they did something totally out of left field, I still did something without thinking or worrying about.
Well, I have at least one more session at noon, and maybe, just maybe, I might be able to make the evening classes, too (if I can get a Kitchen Pass). After that, well, I'll see everyone next year!