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Home > Columns > Paul Schweer > February, 2006 - A Little Distance

A Little Distance by Paul Schweer


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I met Bob on the mat not long after beginning my aikido practice. He wore a worn hakama and a thick gi made of a rough material that looked like it was beaten hard and often with a large heavy rock. He had the same look, but he also had a certain something that suggested the rock usually got the worst of it. His eyes wandered some, like he knew I was there but was more concerned with staying alert for serious threats. His head was bald. The exposed scalp, pink and tender in spots, was a quilt of irregular patches joined in puckering zigzag stitches.

We bowed, but before we could begin, one of the old heads said to me, "Don't try to throw him. He can't roll. Be careful that he doesn't tilt his head."

And I thought to myself, "Now this is one dangerous son of a bitch, and I for sure don't want to fight him. But I'm supposed to take care of him? Who's going to take care of me?"

But Bob's a good guy. And he's helped me, over the years, learn something that seems to work out. If I manage to join, very early on, with whatever his attack is I can stay safe. Without throwing him.

Just a little distance -- not too much. Just a little distance, and I stay safe.

And no I don't throw him, don't do much to him really. Don't have much effect on his balance or intent. But I stay safe. And I don't hurt him.

Best I can do with Bob.


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