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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 10:53 PM
One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 270 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 763,337

In General 11.13.04 - The Seminar (to be continued) Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #153 New 11-18-2004 01:14 PM
From the moment you step into the Regina dojo, you are imbued with a feeling of lightness. It has been impeccably designed in Japanese fashion --- from the walls, painted in neutral beige tones, right down to the flawless, cream canvas mats. There is actually a waiting room for guests (!), a seated viewing area with embroidered cushions on the couches, a tea set on the table, incense and candles burning. A paper screen facade lines the windows and doors of the change rooms.
"Nice dojo," says Sempai Jeff.
"It's cute," I admit, but not without a chuckle. "Cute."
Despite all the Zen-simplicity of the decor, I (obviously used to more Spartan digs) cannot help but muse over the irony of its underlying decadence. You'll find no duct tape covering tears in the mats here.

I open the door to the women's change room and am in awe. It may as well have been a courtesan's boudoir. There is a futon, wall hangings, bamboo-lined mirror, flowers in a vase on the coffee table. There is a coffee table, for heaven's sake. Once inside, I knock on the screened door separating the men's from the women's, calling to the guys from through the screen.
"This place is like a spa," I whisper. "I feel more like a geisha than an aikidoka."
It is definitely a far cry from the dusty, dark storage closet I would occasionally change in. Not that the women here don't change right next to the mop and pail. They do. It's just tastefully concealed behind a curtain of muted red brocade.

But notice that I mention "women". As in plural. More than one. More than just me. That in itself is uncommon to me outside of seminars. Though there are only three other female aikidoka in attendance, it is still quite nice to see. I recognize one, an older Asian woman, as a yudansha I had met before at the last seminar in Saskatoon. The other two are young women from the Regina dojo who have only been training for a couple of months. I recall Sensei mentioning in the past that it was best that beginners not attend a seminar until they have learned decent ukemi. Then again, this host dojo is relatively small --- their own students in attendance numbered very little more than the six our own club has brought out --- perhaps they simply wished better representation. Likewise, there is always something to be learned, whether you can do ukemi or not.

I step onto the mats to stretch, and even the lightness of their colour seems a bit of an indulgence.
"However do they get the blood out?" I wonder. Peroxide, I'm to find out later.

Kawahara Shihan arrives after our warm-up (a series of light, dynamic stretches, minimal ukemi, and some shikko, led by Don, the sensei of the Saskatoon dojo) but without an interpreter this time, making it sometimes difficult to understand him, as he tends to speak quietly. It is tough to imagine this soft-spoken, seemingly-docile man who plods around the room, looks at you with kindly eyes and teaches beginners with a gentle disposition as the same man who apparently would pick fights and totally break guys left, right and centre in the drunken, Regina bar-brawl story from years ago. Or perhaps not...

He uses the instructor of the host dojo as uke a great deal and you can tell that Kawahara is enjoying pushing the young man's physical limits, not to mention his pain threshold. Well, whatever pain threshold he must have left. Pliable ukes tend to take nice, light ukemi and after all, tend to be the most challenging to pin. So nage simply pins harder. Heh. This of course, is coming from the girl who Sensei and the guys call "Miss Rubber Limbs", "Gumby" and "The One with No Tendons". Don't I know it.

We start off with the standard basic exercises: tai no henka, tai no tenkan. I get a good correction on my ukemi for the latter from Don, that is, to make the first, inside step smaller so that I don't end up so far away from nage after the turn. It works well for me, petite as I am, and I am grateful for the advice. We go through a variety of techniques --- most are familiar --- but the two that throw me off are Sankyo (stepping backwards while bringing uke down to the mat --- unfamiliar to me) and later, a form of Kaitenage (I keep forgetting the tenkan).

To Be Continued...
Views: 786

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