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My first weapons class went by so fast it seemed over before it began. There were perhaps sixteen of us training on the mats, so the dojo was sort of full. Kristen, a yudansha with a kiai that will knock you over flat, coached me through the first movements with the jo while Erickson Sensei led the class.
The fluid movements of jo practice are so wonderful to watch, I found myself thinking I should try to be in the back row next time to watch the other aikidoka move. When it's done right, it's very graceful. There's something spiritual about moving with the jo, and it makes every movement I've learned begin to make sense.
After quite a bit of jo tsuki practice with each other, we moved onto jo dori with a kotegaeshi pin. I knew the pin (although a bit awkwardly) but bringing the jo into the mix made the movements more understandable. The reasons for moving the way you do when doing kotegaeshi are magnified when you're swinging a jo around.
At the very end we did kokyu dosa practice. I was partnered with an incredible brown belt from Dubai. She's a native Australian (I believe her name is Karen) and has such good energy that our kokyu dosa practice was as fluid as a stream of water. She coached me on when to breathe and when to cut. My previous partners made it difficult for me to tell what was muscle and what was ki, but with her it was obvious. I later learned she's certified in Reiki, which completely made sense given how she works.
I stayed on for the Intro class that followed and enjoyed some interesting sankyo practice. Of all the grips I've learned thus far, sankyo appears to be the most dangerous when you look at it, but I'm told that's not true. Apparently there will be a whole lot of pain before you even begin to damage anything, so it's one of the safer ones. That doesn't change the fact that it looks scary as you twist someone's hand the wrong way and raise it up in the air to throw them.
After practice I was invited to dinner with the ten people who are staying at the dojo. One of the uchideshi was leaving the next morning, so it was sort of a farewell dinner. We went to Matsuya for Japanese.
Sharing a meal with someone is the first form of friendship for me. We must eat together for me to consider you my friend. I'm not sure if that's the Greek side of me talking, but there is nothing more enjoyable than good food shared with others with some lively conversation.
There I was, sitting at a table full of aikidoka, with the son of the founder of AAA at the table, enjoying a meal and talking about Aikido, Japan, and life. I can't help but wonder what it's like for other people. Do they find a sense of community where they train? Do they go out after leaving the mats and enjoy the world together? I hope so.