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So about that seminar, finally... I had a great time at the Aikido Bridge Friendship Seminar a couple of weeks ago. Doran, Ikeda, and Tissier Sensei taught again, and this time each also did a tanto (knife) class. I got to train and hang out with some really nice folks I met there last year, several of my Aikido rock star heroes, and some new friends I hope to see again soon. I even got to have a house guest for the duration. On the basic "having a good time" scale, it was way up there. Lots of fun.
I love training at the level of intensity available at seminars - really focusing on nothing else for several days, without distraction. I definitely plan to be back next year, and am looking forward to 4 days with Patrick Cassidy Sensei in February, the Aiki Summer Retreat at Menlo Park in June, Robert Nadeau Shihan some time this summer, and our dojo retreat in the mountains in the fall. And some day, on my wish list, George Ledyard Sensei's Weapons & Randori Intensive. There's something about that removal from everyday life to just train that allows for breakthroughs. More on that another time.
It was interesting to notice that this year I got more frustrated and impatient with myself. Last year I was only a 6th kyu with about 6 months of training behind me. My most fervent wish at that point was to not make a complete fool of myself - to clap at the right time when bowing in, address the instructors appropriately, and to not be an embarrassment to my dojo or teacher. Th
I'm sure I'll be writing up some blog posts here afterward, but during the seminar I'll be posting little bits and pieces from my phone each day, but only to the other version of this blog: www.grabmywrist.com, so check that out, if you're so inclined.
I am looking forward to seeing the wonderful people I met last year, and making new friends, too! If you are there and want to get in touch, you can email me at:
lindaeskiniphone at gmail.com << use the @ symbol, of course.
Or text or call me at 619 368-4333
See you there, or back here, or something. :-)
There is a very good discussion on the AikiWeb forums, about uke collusion in practice/training. It's particularly relevant for me, because I will be participating in the Aikido Bridge seminar later this week, where Ikeda Sensei will be teaching, and where there will be lots of opportunities for refining my own ukemi, and observing the ukemi of others.
One of the comments there, about how professional athletes train, brought something to mind: In horseback riding the relationship between the rider and the horse is very much like the relationship between Nage and Uke.
The rider (Nage), through their cues, posture, weight shifts, placement of attention, and so on, is able to affect the balance and motion of the horse (Uke). It should not be a battle - it should be a partnership. They are not in opposition. Horse training essentially is training the horse to be a good uke - sensitive, not reactive, not anticipating, but moving as directed when the rider makes a request correctly.
Of course, beginning riders are hopelessly uncoordinated about their weight, center, attention, posture, hands, feet, etc. A horse that refuses to budge, or who can't understand what is being asked, would only frustrate them. Thankfully there are talented, experienced, angelic horses referred to as "schoolmasters" who and understand, and who happily play along with these fumbling newbies. A good schoolmaster lets the rider get the feeling of what a correct trot, balanced halt, or smooth cant
We've recently had a few project days at the dojo - a New Year's Cleaning Day before our first training of 2011, and yesterday re-stretching the mat cover, now that it's settled in after its first 6 months in use. And back in June and July we helped prepare the new location, move there, and clean up the old place.
It's one of things I really love about our dojo, and probably about martial arts schools in general, that it truly is a community, where people pitch in to help. That we can pitch in and help. There's a sense of belonging and ownership that's comes from serving in that way, and it's available to everyone, of any rank. As a relative newbie who cannot contribute much else, personally, I really value that opportunity.
In so many of our other day-to-day experiences we pay our money, get what we paid for, and call it even. We are not allowed past the "Employees Only" signs. There are "No user serviceable parts inside." We are kept out, not authorized, not needed.
In a dojo, it's a community. When your neighbor is putting up a barn or their crop needs to be brought in before a storm, you don't wait to be asked, you pitch in and help. And sometimes you bring food, too. You get more out of service than you ever give, and more than you could ever pay for. It's how the community, your community, is created, and it's a privilege to be a part of it.
I hope everyone's holidays were peaceful and happy. Mine were laid back, no big deals. Some family, some friends, a great hike on New Year's Day… And we adopted two kitties, after being catless for a few months. All in all a nice time.
It's a new year, but there's nothing really new. The rhythms of seasons, work, and the dojo continue like heartbeats and breathing, regular and reassuring. Last year, 2010, was mostly wonderful. No big vacations, no winning the lottery. I ended the year healthier than I started it, which is great (and for which I credit my Aikido training - and not at all just the physical part). But the big thing is that the little things went well. Just regular daily life - meaningful, engaging work, things going pretty well for family and friends, and training more, and getting more out of it than I could have imagined at the start of the year, and thoroughly enjoying every minute.
Pauliina Lievonen, one of the team that writes The Mirror column on AikiWeb.com, posted this on her Facebook page at the end of the year:
"New year's resolution: More of the same. :-) "
That really hit the nail on the head. Sure, there's room for improvement. There are things I'd like to do better, goals to be met, etc. But all in all, I'm very happy, and looking forward to continuing on in the same way, as much as possible.
I hope your 2010 was like that. And whether it was or wasn't, I hope your 2011 is the kind of year that leaves you hoping for more of the same.