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Aiki-Log -- Class #13
Saturday, September 11, 2004 -- 9:30am
I finally got to go to visit my parents (it's been about 6 months) in the Toledo, Ohio area. I found a Yoshinkai dojo (www.shinsuikandojo.com) 9 miles away from their house in Genoa. I showed up at 9am, but although the dojo was unlocked, it was dark and empty.
I waited for a bit. I was just about to leave when Mark Jacobs Sensei walked in. He let me know that they had just changed their schedule and that there would be a meditation class from 9:30 to 10:30. Then there would be an open mat for aikido (as is their standard for Saturday). He welcomed me to stay for both. Fritz Shermbeck Sensei conducted both classes.
The class was the first in a series, to be held weekly. Mostly, he lectured from a guide book (we each got one - 3 others were there) and then led a short breathing meditation at the end. He struck a bell-bowl for us to exhale, and again for us to inhale. It lasted about 5 minutes or less. He let me keep the guide book. It had a lot of good, general, information about what is it, how to do it, why to do it, benefits, etc.
There was only one other student (brown belt), me and Sensei. They were very willing to focus on my needs and wanted to help me with my test prep. I was somewhat hesitant since I only knew a few of my techniques and didn't know if their style would be right for my tests, so we tried it out.
It was a disaster! I watched the demo, understood what they were doing, but when it came time to try it out nothing started out right. I felt like my feet were in the wrong spot and my hands were on the wrong arms! It took me quite awhile to figure out what was wrong. They start their attacks with a cross step, we (at my dojo) start with a shuffle step. I was expecting the attack to be coming from the leading hand, but they would cross step and attack with the other one. The same in reverse... they were expecting me to attack with the trailing hand, but I would shuffle in and attack with the leading hand.
They have just recently started down the Yoshinkai path and were previously Aikiki. Once the light bulb went on we laughed and did better. One other student showed up and then the first one left shortly thereafter. I started showing the techniques I knew and they compared my technique (egad!) to theirs. I'm sure I didn't do our dojo justice, but we had fun anyway.
Then I asked Sensei to help me with my rolls. He asked where I was hurting and suggested three things. (1) The unbendable arm, (2) extending further and (3) exhaling fully during my rolls. I've heard of, but never been shown, the unbendable arm. I was pleased when he had me do it. We used a big excercise ball to help me with my shape and extension, then switched to a big cushy mat to remove any anxiety I might have about getting hurt. When I rolled on the regular mat with my unbendable arm, extending further out and exhaling completely I did the best roll I've ever done! I need to work on the other side, but at least now I know what to focus on!
Sensei offered me tea after class and we chatted for awhile. We talked about Ki and eyes-closed aikido. I'm not sure if I'll get those topics covered in my dojo, so I look forward to getting some extras from them every other month or so. He even suggested some great reading on Ki excercises and testing.
I had to leave well before I wanted to (I didn't want my kids to kill my parents). I bumped into Jacobs Sensei in the parking lot and he said he trains with Kevin Blok Sensei in Windsor Canada once a month. Since my Sensei trains there as well, his style is closer to mine than Shermbeck Sensei's. He said if I email or call before I come down next time he would be sure to teach that day to help with the differences.