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I stepped off the train onto the platform at ShinJuku Station, fighting through the crowd to get to the exit. My heart was racing, from a mixture of nervousness and excitement. I was on my way to my Aikido class at the world headquarters of Aikikai. A dojo headed by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, son of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba.
It was a thirty minute walk to the dojo, which took me through the noisy pleasure district of ShinJuku. Lights and color flashing everywhere, street Yakuza ganges and huge tv screens mounted on buildings. It was always a rush walking along thousands of people to get to my destination.
On my way to and fro the dojo, I would always pass a small temple. I loved walking by this temple. It was always so peaceful, with a water fountain and a stone statue of a dragon. I would always feel like I went back in time a few hundred years and was the best preparation for my intense workouts at Honbu dojo.
Walking through the main entrance, the smell of Tatami would always fill my nostrils and images of the mat covered with canvas would always enter my mind. "Can't wait to get on the mat, " would always cross my thoughts, "All I have to do is change, now."
I'd walk up the three flights of stairs to make it to the men's changing room and change. Wondering who I would get to train with that day.
I would bow into the mat and sit there patiently waiting for class to begin, trying to relax and get my rest because I always knew what waited when we'd start.
Class was always such an intense rush, the pace was incredible. I couldn't seem to stop, I'd attack, get thrown and get up as fast as I went down to attack again. The pace was mind blowing! The only time we would stop, was when the Sensei clapped his hands to spend 30 seconds to a minute demonstrating the next technique. Reminding me of my high school track training, when we would run 100 meter sprints with 1 min rest in-between, the only difference was that know I was sprinting 2 - 3 minutes at a time instead of 10 seconds.
While training there, I was in phenomenal shape. My pulse at rest was in the 50's. I could run up a mountain side without even breathing heavy. I ran a 10K with a marathoner having never trained for distance.
Being and training at Honbu Dojo was the Ultimate Rush, each and every day! Being physically fit, meeting the most authentic people and making amazing friends.