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Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > AikiWeb AikiBlogs > Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai

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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 10:53 PM
jducusin
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One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 272 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 263,722

In General It's a lot like dancing (because it *is* dancing). Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #207 New 05-26-2006 11:54 AM
For the past five weeks, Jon and I have been taking a weekly Beginner's Ballroom Dancing class in our "copious" free time on Friday nights. Believe it or not, it was *his* idea! After a long day of work, (which often includes working out and then Aikido) we dance our tired feet off. Naturally, with our mutual background, the first thing that came to mind was that we could actually get pretty good at it and so far, so good. With just another three weeks left to the class it's been fun, challenging and above all, way more of a complement to Aikido than we thought it would be.

To begin with, there's all the leading. Counterintuitive as it was, I had to give up on the feminist idea of moving autonomously (at least on the dance floor). The guy has the lead. The fascinating thing about it is *how* he leads. My Aikidoka friends here will know exactly what I'm getting at: the male partner leads the movement of the pair through the changes he makes in his frame (posture) and the pressure he maintains on his female partner's back; he also guides the female partner through turns and other movements by maintaining a certain tension on her hand to lead her forward and guide her back. At higher levels of proficiency, the partners communicate purely through movement by maintaining and changing the tension in their points of contact --- all without choreography, all without saying a word. *Very* cool. *Very* Aiki.

I'm also getting to see "Sensei" from another perspective. For once, Jon is the bumbling newbie with two left feet, starting out at square one just as I am. It's led me to appreciate even moreso how he must have worked exceedingly hard to get to where he's at with Aikido --- that he wasn't one of those gifted and mythical "naturals" that had it easy...it's led me to likewise see more clearly where he comes from when he explains Aikido techniques; that it comes from years of learning what works and what doesn't from his own experience. I just hope some of the newbies in the dojo take it to heart when he tells them that Aikido is a helluva lot of work and that they need to train hard if they want to get far with it. I'm certain that knowing how Sensei was genuinely once struggling just like they are would have a great impact on the way they train now. I know it must be tough to believe without seeing it for their own eyes, but it's true!

So far, I think our biggest challenge has been timing. Ah yes, yet another Aiki-related aspect. Overall, Jon is wonderfully coordinated, but (poor guy) struggles with rhythm. Darn that Baptist, "Dancing-is-the-work-of-the-devil!" conditioning. Fortunately, I don't have the same problem...Filipinos love to shake their booty. :-D So needless to say, it's also been a great test of my patience. It's the old perfectionist, overachiever in me that likes to forge ahead independently and sink or swim on my own --- ballroom dancing, however, just doesn't work that way. It's all together as a team or nothing.

In spite of all the challenges (we're both self-deprecating perfectionists after all), we're having fun --- I'm loving the Tango like you wouldn't believe and we seem to be getting more compliments than corrections from our instructors and other couples. Only time will tell how far we eventually want to take it. You never know.
Views: 1102 | Comments: 4


RSS Feed 4 Responses to "It's a lot like dancing (because it *is* dancing)."
#4 07-05-2006 02:15 PM
jducusin Says:
Hey Kelly, Sorry it's taken so long to respond --- I simply haven't had much time to surf AikiWeb lately! I would love to take Swing at some point --- they did give us a taste of East Coast Swing, but only very briefly...hopefully we'll find the time to take it up again. I'd love to do the kind of Swing with all the aerials; at least if they fail, I know how to take the ukemi out of them. ;-) Things at the dojo are going all right --- we have a couple of new boys in the beginner's class (they're 10 & 11), Andrew is now with the regular class though won't be out for about a month (his wife gave birth to a baby girl on Canada Day --- 7lbs, 10oz, named Ruby Addison)! Also, there will be testing this Saturday for 5th kyu, 3rd kyu, and 2nd kyu (me). Hope all's well with you these days!
#3 06-18-2006 04:13 PM
Kelly Allen Says:
I'm surprised that the Ball Room dancing that your taking didn't include Swing. Diane and I took Ball Room Dancing many years ago and Swing was my favorite. Diane has been bugging me to sign up again. I think that it just might happen. BTW how are things going in the Dojo? I'm missing training but still have a great deal to do on the cottage before I can commit again.
#2 05-29-2006 11:41 AM
jducusin Says:
Hey Cat! Thanks for the comment. It definitely is tough giving up the lead as a woman...even tougher when you (as in my case) can keep up with the beat a lot better than your parnter. :-D But you're absolutely right --- the more I "give it up" and learn to follow, the more sensitive I'm becoming to my partner's movement cues. We even tried just improvising during last class --- with Jon not telling me what he was going to do beforehand and it worked out really well! I just had to really stay in close and maintain a hip/leg connection and we were able to get through with very little trouble. I envy you --- I've always wanted to do some Swing...I guess it comes from loving taking high falls. :-D
#1 05-28-2006 08:05 PM
CatSienna Says:
I loved this post. I don't dance regularly at all, but have dabbled before in salsa, argentine tango and swing (8 beat). I totally agree with you that the lead-follow relationship is very aiki. And that what's added is the need to follow the external rhythm of music. Dancing as a woman taught me what good following was all about. I realised how important it was to follow *exactly* the cues I was given even at times when I thought he was making a mistake (or two, or three). I realised that this above all promoted his learning process. Anything else tended to slow it down because my dancing partner would not be able to see the consequences of his mistakes so directly. Nothing helped him more than nearly crashing me into another partner, or some inanimate object . I really enjoy dancing, but in Singapore where I live, as a very average dancer who has two left feet, it's hard to find a comfortable enough dance group. Dance does not come naturally to most here so dancers tend to be a small elite group, showy and impatient with people like me. I can learn, but I need a *lot* of practice with very patient guys and that's not very available here. It's kinda why I ended up doing aikido...no problems with shortage of partners and hey, other than the lack of music, it's a lot like dancing
 




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