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I teach Aikido at a small dojo in Winnipeg, Canada. Been doing so for many years now. This blog is just a collection of ruminations on teaching, descriptions of the events of daily practice, and the occasional funny story.
Well, its been a while since I made an entry on my blog. I thought since I had a couple of spare moments that I'd write a bit here.
It might be interesting to some of you to know a little of my Aikido history. Here's a brief account:
I started Aikido when I was twenty one. I had, from the time I was eight years old and watched my first "Kungfu" episode on t.v., wanted to practice a martial art. David Carradine punching and kicking his way to justice resonated powerfully with me (though even now I couldn't say why, exactly). My parents, unfortunately, were against my learning a martial art and refused to allow me to practice. They thought such training would foster certain attitudes and ideas in me that would not be positive. So, it wasn't until I was in university, away from home, that I was finally able to satisfy my dream of practicing a martial art.
Aikido wasn't my even on my radar when I began to think seriously about my martial path. My mind was filled with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, Benny Urquidez, Bill Wallace and Sho Kosugi, Toshiro Mifune and Tomisaburo Wakayama (star of Lone Wolf and Cub). It was only when I stumbled upon an Aikido text by Maruyama sensei of the Ki no Kenkyukai in a local bookstore that my interest in this art was ignited. Although the pictures in the manual weren't terribly helpful and the writing rather overly esoteric at points, I still felt keenly drawn to the general idea of Aikido it expressed. The circularity of the techniques, the principles of relaxation, center, breath and extension of ki, and the idea of being in harmony with an attacker all greatly piqued my interest.
I began to look for a dojo in Saskatoon but couldn't find one during my first year of studies. Early in my second year, however, I came across an ad for an Aikido dojo practicing on campus. Man, was I excited! I watched a class itching all the while just to jump right in and try it out. I couldn't sign up fast enough and begin my study of Aikido.
I was/am a fairly coordinated guy; I was pretty adept at most sports and assumed I could depend on this in my practice of Aikido. While I don't remember much of my early days of training, I do remember initially having a bugger of a time doing rolls. I also recall having a dickens of a time remembering what I had just seen the teacher demonstrate. I don't know how many times my sensei would do a technique, explain it, and then, when we had split up into pairs for practice, have to come over to me and show me again what he had just demonstrated. Aikido was so complicated! There was so much to do all at once! This was a whole other world from the comparatively simple maneuvers of basketball or football.
I was highly motivated to do well at Aikido - this was, after all, a long held dream I was fulfilling! So, I would go home after each practice and spend about an hour, eyes closed, going slowly over the movements we had studied in practice, performing them again and again, paying attention to my balance, and footwork, and breathing. I would also come regularly forty minutes or so before class and practice rolling. I would do hundreds of rolls, front and back, determined to be as smooth and round as my teacher was. I gotta' tell ya' it was a little bit of heaven to finally be learning something of what Kwai Chang Caine might have known.