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I've not really got the hang of these titles yet have I ?
This entry will be about my first steps into the Dojo and my first meeting with Sensei Aileen Jeffrey 5th Dan.
October 2008. Sixteen years old. Hating the world and the people in it.
It all started when I ran into a second removed cousin of mine who I shall refer to as R, on the way to the local city, the train we were both due to get was cancelled, cue the long, awkward taxi journey, courtesy of ScotRail. Nice guy, socially awkward but intellectually clever. He mentioned how he was still practicing Aikido and continued to speak about it the whole journey there. At the time, all I could think was ''This guy is so full of himself'' (that was the type of guy I was). About an hour and a half later we exchanged numbers and he asked me to come down to the class, I agreed on the basis that I can sit and watch the first night and make my decisions then. We parted ways and it wasn't untill a week or two later, I decided to give him a message and take him up on his offer.
It was a Tuesday night 7pm and I walked into the local Community Centre come Dojo, I could see the class doing their warm up in the crisp white suits, coloured belts and a small woman wearing a ''skirt'' standing in front of them. Obviously this was their ''Chief Honcho''. So I walked over to the edge of their training area, R bowed to his Instructor and came to the side of the mat to greet me. I was told to have a seat and watch the class.
After the initial hour, the class were warmed up and the techniques were starting to flow and bodies starting to fly. I couldn't believe what I was watching, a woman, small in stature throwing men much bigger than myself into a thin mat on a wooden floor !
First thoughts were ''OHHH I don't know about this.''
Sensei Aileen came over and introduced herself, shook my hand with a light and delicate touch and a slight yet very obvious smile. I could tell at this moment, the first meeting with her, that she was a very serene and lovely lady. My initial impression was not wrong. I will eventually put up a separate blog entry about Sensei Aileen, as she deserves her own acknowledgments.
Aileen, didnt say much about the club but more asked me questions, about me. She was sussing me out ! A great Judge of character, as I've learned is a trait much needed in our world.
She agreed to allow me on the mat for the second half of the hour, and after an intense warm up, began to explain Aikido to me. When she spoke about it, she spoke with passion. It truly was her life.
She explained some of the techniques and spoke in Japanese at points, which obviously to me was dumbfounding. After feeling a few techniques, Kotegaeshi, Ikkyo and Nikkyo, I knew that this was the thing for me. The fact so much pain could be inflicted by someone of small stature, I knew then that this was going to be an art of precision and focus. Just what I was after.
Leaving the Dojo, speaking to the rest of the class I was so happy to have met these men and women and was extremely excited about the next class.
I went home with a huge smile on my face and for the rest of the week I proceeded to do nothing but watch videos online and prepare for the battering (I hoped) I would receive.
This was my first experience on the mat, and meeting the woman who would help form my character and make me a better person.