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A friend of mine and I were in noon class. We were getting over bronchitis, which I seemed to get frequently while living in New York City. I was a proofreader and would hop on the subway at the western end of Bryant Park in midtown and end up pretty close to the dojo on 18th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenue. Even though it ended up more than a one hour lunch hour, being a proofreader seemed to be justification for doing something totally different for a couple of hours to beat that midafternoon slump so many office workers feel. Oh, correction, class started at one p.m. not literally noon.
"Noon" class was less crowded and sometimes I could call it "easier" but that didn't mean we didn't get exellent teaching. Sometimes it was a tough class, and Sensei often threw whoever was there. But that day I guess I just wanted to blend into the woodwork. It turned out to be not such a good idea, although it was nice to practice while recuperating.... I thought. Sensei didn't throw me after that for many months I seemed to notice. Here's why, I think.
It was kaiten nage, and after the turn , when he threw he gave what I thought was an extra flourish is not the exact word I wanted but pretty close. But wait till you hear the explanation one of the senpais later gave me. All I saw at the time was that people were landing on their backs and my friend elbowed me and she and I kept our heads down as the feet progressed down the line stopped briefly near us then moved on.
Some of you may indeed think it was disrespectful on our part, but for one, we probably thought it would impede our recovery from bronchitis, for two at least from my part I was a bit scared about landing on my back. In retrospect, it seemed like a small price to pay for instruction and participation but, you know, some days you are just in a weird mood.... at least I was.
But, you see, "Figuring Out Sensei" was not the original topic I had in mind for today's post. It was "Also Ran"s.
I met the phrase in a recent crossword puzzle as an answer to the question of what would fill the spaces as a synonym for loser. Maybe so in horse racing, where there are only Win, Place, or Show. But even if a horse finishes "out of the money," some people still keep track of these horses, what their performance is from race to race, whether they start out fast, whether they come from behind, what happens when several horses are bunched together, etc. etc. track conditions, muddy, dry etc. Oh well you can check all this racing lore someplace.
But in Aikido it's not that there are also rans, everyone is part of the class. Some even compare it to tea ceremony where the moment is almost sacred. It seems to be considered "rare" a one time occurrence of who is there at that place at that time.
Well we can read more on that if we look up tea ceremony in the right places. As for Sensei, he once said that he never knew who would stay with Aikido for the long term, sometimes a seemingly awkward person would end up persevering, while someone to whom things came easy would lose interest and drop out. Anyway, he practiced with all of us in those days. Well, that's today's post. More another time, if you are interested. Oh and what the senpai said was, well, he wants to make sure we don't end up falling on our heads so he makes sure we go all the way over and land on our backs. Yep, I was embarrassed.
Oh and when did he throw me again? You can even look up my blog entry not so many entries back entitled something like "Valerie, Kitsy and I Paint the Dojo". We did it partly for fun, but partly because a friend of mine from the dojo was running an off off Broadway theatre across the street and suggested a warmer tint instead of plain white, as it was kind of a stark loft building. Turns out Sensei later told someone he preferred the plain white. So when he threw me I thought he might be annoyed at me for the color! But then I thought about it or someone mentioned , I can't remember. He might have been thanking me. Probably the secretary succumbed to questioning.... Who knows? Too bad I just didn't ask him a lot of things I wondered about. But among the mysteries of the universe at that time was....trying to figure out Sensei.