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Last night I stepped on to the mat for the first time in almost 6 years. My previous expierience lies in 15 years of American Kenpo. So I thought I was pretty educated. In some aspects I am...but as I discovered last night. In other aspects I am very very green. The class had about 7 students. Most of which were at the shodan level. My instinct told me I was in for a long night. Here I am the new guy, from a different background. I stand about 6'0", solid 180lbs tattoos galore and a bic'd head. A real tough guy I was expecting to get made an example of. Thats the thought process I came from.
What I expierienced was something not just completely different, but on whole other level. I was welcomed with a genuine warmth and invited to work out (I intended on just viewing an advanced class). I obliged. We started with some warm up and went into rolls. Fortunately I still have some balance and equilibrium. Rusty, yes. But not as bad as I thought. We then moved on to some techniques. Old habits die hard...I immediately assumed Kenpo posturing, stance and rigidness withour even realizing it. The Shodan I was working with chuckled and I asked what I came from. I told him and he replied "Oh don't worry about it. We'll fix that." It was an odd feeling being in a dojo and being encouraged to completely relax my body. It felt even stranger when it started to click with me. The more I relaxed the easier the techniques became.
The less I anticipated an attack the easier it was to flow with it. Standard fare I suppose. For me it was like being told you could hammer a nail with a feather, only to dicover that it not only worked but worked better than a hammer.
My Sensei took some time to work with me. I can't name the techniques we were doing so bear with me... but during the technique I was still a little rigid. We concentrated on just the walking aspect of it. As we were walking in circles he made suggestions. At the exact moment every thing fell together and my body felt almost weightless he shouted "That it! RIght there! Do the technique!" The walk had turned from a slow crawl an intense quickness and when it was over, Sensei was on the floor and I felt like I could fly. It was without a doubt the most complete I have felt in years. I would do the technique again and again. The more I thought about getting the same feeling the sloppier I became. Nothing worked until I stopped thinking.
I sat and watched Sensei work with some of the other instructors. The movements were beautiful and completely honest. I watched Sensei, literally, enjoy every breath he took. I watched bodies fly and people connecting in ways that I knew were possible but never expierienced first hand. For lack of a better term...It was awesome.
By the time class was over I felt like I had been re-born. This is where I need to be. This is what I need to be doing. I couldn't ask for a better group of people to show me the way.