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I stepped off the train onto the platform at ShinJuku Station, fighting through the crowd to get to the exit. My heart was racing, from a mixture of nervousness and excitement. I was on my way to my Aikido class at the world headquarters of Aikikai. A dojo headed by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, son of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba.
It was a thirty minute walk to the dojo, which took me through the noisy pleasure district of ShinJuku. Lights and color flashing everywhere, street Yakuza ganges and huge tv screens mounted on buildings. It was always a rush walking along thousands of people to get to my destination.
On my way to and fro the dojo, I would always pass a small temple. I loved walking by this temple. It was always so peaceful, with a water fountain and a stone statue of a dragon. I would always feel like I went back in time a few hundred years and was the best preparation for my intense workouts at Honbu dojo.
Walking through the main entrance, the smell of Tatami would always fill my nostrils and images of the mat covered with canvas would always enter my mind. "Can't wait to get on the mat, " would always cross my thoughts, "All I have to do is change, now."
I'd walk up the three flights of stairs to make it to the men's changing room and change. Wondering who I would get to train with that day.
I would bow into the mat and sit there patiently waiting for class to begin, trying to relax and get my rest because I always knew what
I like shihonage. The idea is to learn to protect yourself all around on every corner.
Is it possible? To create a technique so powerful that you are protected all around all the time.
Trying to develop this kind of technique over the years has taught me many humbling lessons.
Shihonage is one of the more difficult techniques to perform with multiple attackers. It's much easier to perform kokyunage, or tenchinage, or ikkyo kokyunage. It's hard getting around the idea of having to turn your back when you have more than one person attacking.
The funny thing, is that when it is performed correctly, Uke, or your attacker is the one protecting you!
Last week we got together for a little physical training and enjoy a wonderful evening watching the Golden Dragon Acrobats.
I think a few of the students realized how easy it is to get out of shape and how important it is to get a physical fitness program going.
We only did about 50 pushups, 50 situps, 50 back extensions and a two mile jog/walk, then we did a few sprints up a hill.
The training was simple, just some pushups, situps, back extensions a jog and a few sprints. Nothing special, nothing extravagant, no wild names like tae bo, pilates, Yoga...just your basic thing that could get kind of boring, but what I've discovered is that when you are in the company of friends, even the most mundane boring task can be fun!
The Golden Dragon Acrobats are truly amazing! I wonder if it would be more fun to try that out than to do Aikido?!?!?Maybe not.....Don't think my body can do what they can!
Erik Calderon, Vinny Nguyen and Rafael Garcia from left to right