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Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away
Simon and Garfunkel
Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow): "I - I'm not - I'm not very good at - at, you know..."
James (John Hannah): "Constructing sentences?"
In Germany they say "Guten Rutsch!" or "Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!" - have a good slide into the new year. I like this image of sliding into something new.
In budo we use suri ashi - sliding our feet on the ground. The movement should always be free.
My first aikido teacher Kinjo Asoh Sensei did judo and some boxing when he was young. But maybe it was in speed ice skating that he first really learned to move his hips freely and how to use the power of his back pushing leg. One of the most important lessons for budo from ice skating was that if you turn your face in the direction you want to move your body will follow naturally.
At the end of the year in Japan it's time for osoji - the big, special cleaning. Then you can start the new year with a clean place and a fresh spirit and the year will bring luck. In Scotland they have the same custom. Many dojos do this end of year cleaning.
There are different ways to clean the dojo. A traditional way in Japan is to sweep the dojo with a broom and then wipe the floor with wet cloths. I was taught to clean two tatami mats together - moving my hand in a big arc by swinging my hips and then to change hands for each new set of two mats. In some places you clean the dojo in lines - pushing the cloth the length of the dojo. There are lots of ways to do it but one secret is not to let the cloth get too dry (or you fall over - to everyone's amusement) so keep rinsing it out. And you can also hold the cloth in a very slight crescent shape with the points leading. And slide it over the tatami.
I'm going to have toshikoshi soba tonight. That's buckwheat noodles to go from the old year into the new. They are supposed to bring you luck and happiness. Because they are long you will have a long life too. But in my mind I'm sliding into the new year like the slippery noodles - and with a clean house…