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Home > Columns > AaaRk Sensei > December, 2006 - Meeting O-Sensei

Meeting O-Sensei by AaaRk Sensei


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Standing here with an egg between my legs, warmed by the snows of summer, contemplating the meaning of things, my mind slides back to memories of my trips to Hombu Dojo and my first meeting with O-Sensei.

Arriving in Tokyo on a Japanese Antarctica Research ship, with my dogi, hakama, and half a ton of krill, I made my way to Shinjuku. With the krill deposited at the office and my uniform in place, I hopped my way to the third floor.

I remember sitting on the very end of the mat when O-Sensei walked in. He stared down the line and said, "Oi, kono takishi-do wo kiteru mono, dare dai?". I do like to appear natty.

The rest is just a whirl. And a spin, a dive. a slide into the kamiza, and a couple of kneecap pecks.

O-Sensei tossed me a few times and asked me a question in Japanese, which I answered in Penguin. He remembered some of his Penguin from his time in Antarctica with Nobu Shirase and invited me over to the residence to continue the conversation over krill sushi, the ambrosia of the gods.

We talked about Kotodama. The mellifluous squarks of Penguin naturally resonate with the primordial ice. We sing the universe and woo the ladies all at the same time. I must admit I find the primate version of Kotadama a bit harsh, much like your attempts to translate Shakespeare into English. "Oh, that this too too solid flesh would melt...", indeed! "Fie!", I say. Come down and hear it in the original. We chanted and squarked and noshed. I began to wonder if O-Sensei wasn't part Penguin himself. He was the right height and with his civil sensibilities and genteel manners, he lacked only a beak to afford him full rookery status. I went back to my digs at the Ueno Zoo, my head reeling with images and sounds and not just a little sake.


And now, to the mail:

Mark Walsh, Cambridge UK asks:
"Is 'ask a penguin' better than 'ask a ninja'?"

Ninjas are secretive, hidden, stealthy, and quiet; Penguins are gregarious, open, very noisy and group oriented. Ask a ninja a question and he will throw stars at you and disappear in a puff of smoke; ask a penguin a question and she will sit with you, look at the stars and dissolve in a glass of beer.

Qatana, from Petaluma, CA asks
"have I acheived aiki-telepathy, since I had an intuitive knowlegde that the great Aarkk Sensei was a Penguin before I Read his(her?) intro"?

Well, if you are still teetering on the "his/her" fence, your spidey sense is failing you a bit. With a name like "AaaRk" did you think I was Tuscan? Or from Brooklyn, like Janet?

Gavin from Cork, Ireland asks:
"Are you an Emperor Penguin and if so should we be calling you 'The Imperial AaaRk Sensei'?"

Unlike the Irish, we are not all descended from kings. Royal titles are anathema to penguins as we are an egalitarian colony, so, to answer your question, yes. In Cork, Youghal is a city; in Tennessee, it's a pronoun.

Paul from Orlando, FL sasses:
Arctic aikido?
All that pretty waddling is nice enough,
but lay your little flightless wings on a
leopard seal sometime and see what happens!

Bloated, lazy, lying on the clean cold ice,
waiting for a meal of penguin delights;
whomp with a flipper your leptonyx ass.

Erick from Florida asks:
Could you offer some advice
For good ukemi on ice?

Flippers up, belly arched, eyes forward and stop before the glacier.

Lorien from California asks:
Did you audition for "Happy Feet, " and if so, did you get in? Will we see you if we watch the movie?
More on topic, do you find that dance and aikido complement or interfere with one another?

I was asked to be in the film, but they said I'd have to do Aikido, show off my paunch and sport a ponytail. No one would ever buy that! The Terpsichorean and Martial Arts have much in common, although they are exactly obverse, numismatically speaking. They both need balance, connection, timing, dedication, practice, art and style. The only difference is, at the end, Fred drops Ginger instead of dipping her.

Paul from Kelowna, BC Canada
How do you tie your hakama without any thumbs?

Pretty much, we don't. We just look like we're always wearing one. On formal occasions, we use velcro.


Do you have a question you would like answered by AaaRk sensei? If so, contact him by e-mail!



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