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Take a hundred or so Aikido students, give them about two three or four days to train together, add a few feasts and throw in about a dozen or so different nations, cultures, and music, and you're bound to end up with an unforgettable bash, by Saturday night.
Add several other martial arts to the mix (with a little limbo* in the center of the room), with members from one dance mingling and joining another, and you get some idea of the wild spirit that bounced around the room, that night.
"This may be the first time that this kind of dancing has ever occurred," observed Don. Yeah, that IS a tall order, but consider it: there was aikido, chi qung, capoeira, several Mediterranean line-dances, limbo, and a few other dances I have never seen...all occurring at the same time, and sometimes flowing from one to the other. I started in with capoeira with the amazingly acrobatic and talented Tesfaye (to the the sound of...was it Ethiopian, Jordanian, or Iraqi music? I had no way to tell, but I THINK it was mostly Ethiopian. Someone write me and tell me which), and soon I had about 4 people jump up and requested immediate lessons. Every time I tell this story to my capoeira-instructor friend, he busts a gut, laughing (clearly, he's jealous ).
The Aiki-Follies were great. As is often the case, they went from the sublime to the ridiculous. Tesfaye, the student from Ethiopia, amazed us with his acrobatic skill, and led us in a few line-dances of his own nationality. Mark, whose booming voice acted as our TAB PA-system, was perfect as an MC. Ala'a gave us a combination air-Iaido demo, while he joked about the dubious wisdom of staring down opponents he'd already slain.
At the height of it, I realized that the variety-show was going so well, that we all needed a little counterbalancing. People were having too much fun, after all. We needed a little misery thrown into the mix, or we were all going to die of happiness and glee. And so, in a spirit of emergency preparedness, I got up and told them all that they needed to suffer a little, and so I fulfilled that need by singing the theme-song to "Rocky Horror Picture Show (with audience partici-pation, of course)." By the second verse, a quick-thinking Aikidoist leapt onstage and beheaded me with a clean swipe of his air-katana, before I could finish the verse. Thud! I went into immediate convulsions and died a messy, virtual death onstage.
He later came up and apologized. "No, no," I said. "You were doing a public service." "Yeah," he said. "I couldn't stand to listen to the whole song, all the way through.
With a grin: "Now, if you had done the "Time Warp...!"
The dances also took the character of the music and the venue. The Thursday-night Turkish revelry* was a little more traditional, with a few Mediterranean-style line-dances and horah's so familiar to me from the Greek wedding-parties I attended in my youth. They tended to build in flavor, variety and spirit, until by Saturday we were, in my humble opinion: "off the hook."
Oh, Lord, how we suffered! Can't you see the misery written all over our faces?? Mercy, mercy, aggh!