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Finding a good dojo is a lot like house hunting. You have a list of qualities and features that you must have, ones that you would like to have and a few that are "bonuses". You usually have a price range in mind and you also tend to know the size that will suit you and your needs.
When it comes to house hunting, sometimes you find your "home" right away. Other times, you search and search and search some more. Sometimes it is the unexpected "house" that catches your eye, or even better, it seems to find you. They always say that you will "just know" when you have found "the one".
I of course, have never been house hunting, but I have heard of the joys and difficulties of this process from family and friends. I have however, went dojo hunting before. With the first dojo I went to, it was the only one I could afford ($10 a month for two classes a week) and it wasn't too far from my house (though my Mom still complained about the drive). It quickly became a home away from home and I made some good friendships and found some new people that I added to my extended family. Eventually, life caused me to leave that home behind. I was sad at the time, but looking back, I think I needed to move on. I needed a different home; I had outgrown that one. I still keep in touch with those I became close with, but I have closed that subchapter of my life.
Without really planning it, a new home found me several years later. In a desperate attempt to get my grouchy husban
The circle- it has no beginning and no end. It just continues to be what it is- a repeating pattern. This is only the second dojo I have trained at, but I am all too familiar with what is happening. Periodically, a dojo will receive an influx of new people. My dojo is no different and we have recently acquired five new people over the last week and one other person said they were interested, but has yet to return.
Each time this influx of students appears, I hope that we will retain at least one. Sadly, the majority of the time I am let down. In fact, in the little over two years I have been training, there are only three new people who are newer then I (and two don't train regularly). Some of the people who leave discover that their grandiose idea of what aikido (or martial arts) is, was shattered. Some discover that aikido isn't quite what they want in a martial art. Others quit because they aren't picking up the moves and progressing through the ranks as quickly as they would like. Yet others, have the best of intentions and seem to like aikido, but don't find it on the top of their priority list. They have a job, a family, or decide to train for a marathon, play sports in school, travel abroad or leave for college.
Although I may be sad to see them leave, I can't help but be thankful for their brief moment in the dojo. Without even knowing or trying, they have impacted my training in a remar
I decided to take a leap. This year is MY year. It is MY shot. I have been hoping and looking forward to this since last year. What is it I'm speaking of? Only the Birankai version of aikido heaven, also known as Summer Camp!!!
This year, it is in Portland, which is less then five hours away from my front door. No plane ticket necessary. An added bonus, considering it hasn't been anywhere near here in a long time. Of course, I have the foot issue going on, but I have more or less accepted that to be a daily part of my life for the time being.
The only problem is that my bank account is lacking funds for the trip. Sure, I had the funds. I've had the funds several times throughout the past year. Each time, something came up and I had to dig into my stash of hidden away acorns. I needed new tires, my brother, who lives on the opposite side of the country, got married (YAY!) and then… I clunked down some cash for an in stock iaito that just seemed meant for me.
So now my little carved out space in my tree trunk, where the acorns were once stashed, is now home to nothing but darkness… and cobwebs. Now what? Well, I decided to ask about a scholarship, but turns out that wouldn't work either. They offered to front the entire amount and I could repay them over the next few months, which seemed like a great idea, until I figured out that I don't even afford that. Now what? Well, I told them that I just couldn't afford to go. ….
For months I have been limping along, unable to take a full stride in the direction I want to take. I can see where I am headed, but the journey is painfully slow. About a week or two ago, I began to realize that I was no longer limping my way around. Instead, I was beginning to move without fear of pain. In fact, I realized I hadn't given my foot much thought at all lately…..
Okay, so technically, I haven't been limping from my injury in several months, but the pain has never subsided. It has always kept me sidelined or made me pull away or hold myself back from the simple joys I once took for granted. I have never been graceful on the mat, but for the past several months, I looked more like a cow on ice. I was awkward, lost and scared. I constantly found myself desperately searching for that green pasture I remembered; the one where I felt like I was on stable ground.
Somewhere along this journey, when I stopped looking so far ahead, I realized that I was already in a green pasture. Sure, it isn't the one I can picture further down the road, but it isn't bad. The grass is green and though there are a few weeds here and there, it isn't overrun by any means. Instead of finding myself moping about, wishing I were in the pasture down the road, I found myself enjoying this one. The grass smelled just as sweet as I remembered and the grass still felt amazing under my bare feet. I found myself frolicking about, without fear of holes or bees that may sting the b
I take a deep breathe and exhale slowly as I step out onto the ice. My breathe rises into the chilly air as my legs begin to move in rhythm with my heartbeat. The glassy surface of the ice glides beneath me as I lean into my turn. I'm balanced and feeling confident as I pick up speed. I pick up the pace and do a mental check to ensure that my body is streamlined. The sounds of my skates on the ice and my heartbeat are the only sounds that I take note of.
I push myself to go harder, faster as I race around the rink. My confidence shatters as my left skate begins to wobble with wild abandon beneath me. I desperately try to regain my balance as I careen towards the wall. The wall seems to run towards me in greeting and crashes into me. I bounce off the sideboard and collapse to the ice in a spinning, sliding heap.
Before I even have time to assess the damage, tears fill my eyes. It was my body's preemptive strike, as if it knew that pain was on its way, but I was just too shocked to feel it yet. I lay there, resting my cheek on the ice, watching my warm, salty tears fall from my face, creating a tiny puddle on the glassine surface. The pain slowly sinks into my awareness as I begin to take note of what hurts.
I push myself up to the seated position. Not only am I sore, but the cold ice is making me more miserable. As I attempt to gain my footing and stand, I wobble once more and nearly collapse to the ice aga
For the past several days I have been really looking forward to training again. I had put my personal emotional breakdown behind me and was finding myself more excited the closer Tuesday became.
The entire day I spent in random daydreams about aikido. Honestly, I feel like a beginner all over again. Perhaps my mini vacation will prove to have been a good thing. I now find myself with a better appreciation of what it is I am doing, as well as for my sensei and other students at the dojo.
My hubby and I arrived at the dojo to see William there. He had moved away a while ago and it was nice to see him back. He explained that he was back to prepare for some wedding plans. We chatted for a bit before I went to change into my gi. On my way upstairs, I stopped and chatted with Erin. She said she wouldn't be able to train since she is feeling a bit sick, but came to help clean the dojo.
Once we were upstairs, I discovered that there were only three people total (me, my husband and William). Where is everybody? Usually Tuesday evenings have a better turnout. Maybe it with it being spring break around here, people are off traveling. William fell us in and started warm-ups and sensei then took over warm-ups once he arrived.
We lined up in the back of the class as sensei grabbed William to demonstrate our first technique- tai no henko. As we were watching sensei demonstrate, a fourth student bowed onto the mat- Don. That made us an even four, which is alwa
Last week I had reached my limit; I was done. Everyone has their breaking point and I just discovered mine…….
It has been about two months since that fateful day I decided to go to the doctor about my foot. It feels like forever since I have slipped into my gi, tied my faithful white belt around my waist and bowed onto the mat. I miss the way the mat felt under my bare feet and I long for the feeling of weightlessness that I felt as I flew threw the air. I had to go back…..
Tuesday evening I showed up with my gi bag slouched over my shoulder. When sensei saw me downstairs with my gear, I was greeted with a smile. I went to the changing room and found myself quite nervous as I began to change. I'm not sure why I was so nervous, but part of it must have been because I wasn't sure exactly what would happen. Was it time for me to step back on that mat or was I just being stupid? As I walked upstairs, I figured that I would soon find those answers out for myself.
My main goal for the class was to slowly wade myself into the waters and see exactly how deep I could go before getting overwhelmed. Each time I felt like I had waded in just a bit too far, I would pull back. Unfortunately, I knew that I wouldn't know my limitations until I pushed them too far. Turns out the class went well. Tuesday evening is a beginner class, so I knew that it would be a good class to test out my foot. One thing I discovered that I'm not quite ready for yet are forward rolls. Pu
Everyone has their own method of keeping track of time. Some use a clock. Others use a calendar. Others still would prefer to use a sundial or an hourglass. Those methods are great, but for the past 30 days I have been keeping track of the passing time by another method all together- my prescription bottle.
For the past 30 plus days, I have been diligently taking my anti-inflammatory pills twice a day. Seeing the full bottle and the amount of pills I needed to take helped put my painful hiatus in perspective. I could visually see what it was I needed to do and my only goal was to make those pills disappear with due diligence (or digilence as Flynn Sensei would say- see a post from the fall if you need clarification on this new word).
The other methods of keeping time were strictly forbidden other then when I was at work. Looking at the calendar only made me painfully aware of each class I was missing. When my digilence would fade, I would forget and glance at the clock to check the time. Each time I made this mistake, I grew sad because it just so happened I always looked around the time I would be normally be bowing in to start class.
Each day that passed, I took my two pills, thinking that it would somehow make a difference. Once or twice a week, I would go to the dojo and watch my husband take class. I saw things I would be missing otherwise, though I found myself a bit bitter about being off to the side. I felt like I was the toy a child got the C
Hi. My name is Ashley and I have been off of aikido for 5 days and 22 hours. ::sigh:: I am only on day 5 of my 30 day minimum stint in rehab. Last Thursday I finally put on my big girl gi and went to the doctor to see what is up with my foot. It has been almost four months since I have injured it and my foot doesn't seem to be getting any better. I walked into the office hoping for the best, but expecting the worse. Honestly, I was looking for a quick fix. Set me down, give me a cortisone shot, tell me to ice it after class and send me on my way. (I know that wouldn't fix the problem, but at least it would help me forget the problem....)
The doctor came in and asked me about my injury and symptoms, then sent me down the hall for some x-rays. After reviewing my x-rays, he told me that it didn't appear like I fractured or broke anything. He told me that he thinks I have bruised my bone marrow and have a large amount of edema in the bone. At this point, I asked what I needed to do. He told me he would give me a scrip for anti-inflammatory drugs to take twice a day. Sounds easy enough! Then he casually tossed in "No martial arts."
At that point, my eyes got all teary and it was like I was a child being told that I couldn't play with my best friend forever. I didn't really realize how much I liked doing aikido until that very moment. I think he saw how upset I was and asked how often I train and how long I had been doing martial arts. I told him tha
With the 2010 chapter of my life behind me, I am already a few pages into a new one. It didn't take me long to realize that the chapter of 2011 is about new beginnings. Not only is it a new year, but it's also a new decade. Not to mention, I have a fairly new rank to accompany this trend of new beginnings. As a recently minted 4th kyu, I would think, like a coin, my exterior would be all shiny and new. Instead, I get the feeling that I have a rather dull finish. I ask myself how this came to be, but I can't seem to find an answer.
As I stare at my reflection, I realize that I don't look like a shiny new coin at all. Instead, I see….. a stuffed teddy bear. I'm made of worn fabric and I'm being held together by fraying seams. I notice mismatched fabric patches in several locations and I'm showing signs of additional threadbare areas. Then something else catches my eye. What is that? Is that a hole? ::sigh:: Yes, I even have a new hole in my fabric. ::begins shoving the stuffing back inside::
Despite my slightly rough appearance, I don't appear to have been abused or neglected. Instead, it seems that I bear the marks of hard love. It's as if I were the favorite toy of a child that has withstood the test of time (with a little help of course). With each patch I have, it shows the trials and tribulations I have had to overcome. Although my fabric has been pushed beyond its limit, creating worn and torn areas, a patch is there to help reinforce it and ma