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The "eight direction throw" is also a bokken suburi exercise that can be used to cleanse the negative energies of the old year and usher in the new. Instead of the usual paired practice, Sensei had us spread out and taught us how to cut eight ways, facing a different direction for each cut, using the corners of the room as a guide. Suburis are meant to be practiced alone, but as a group, the collective energy became a palpable thing. Our bokkens rose and fell together, our ki-ai's were timed, and the swishing of our feet across the mat made a soft wind's song as we fed off this synergy.
A former boss once drew a helix sculpture to help me visualize synergy. He said we each go through our individual lives and different jobs, but the points where the helix met were where we communicated and what kept the structure together as a whole. So it was important not only to find the merging points, but to ride their energy.
Learning how to play a musical instrument had been one of those things that I had always meant to do but never got a chance to. "If you have a heart, "Sensei had told me, "you've got rhythm. Aikido is rhythm, and it is music."
We cut through eight directions in the dojo, like a compass star and all its sub-directions. Together, we cast our last year's sorrows, shortcomings, and negative energies out to the winds. The rain beat a staccato rhythm against the dojo walls, washing away the old year. I moved and cut with my bokken, thinking ahead to sunny days as I welcomed in the new.