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Every few months Sensei offers "Aikido In Focus" workshops. These are a series of "concise topical training clinics for accelerating both your Aikido and personal development." They are usually about 2 hours long, on a Sunday morning. I've participated in every one since I started training, and they've been a huge contribution to my growth.
I have enjoyed them all, and have gotten immediate, useful feedback that has helped me improve my technique, or made me more aware of some aspect of Aikido I can be working with in daily training. But that's not why I go, and that's the least of the benefit.
Each one creates another small crack that lets new light in. It always takes me a while to figure out what that new light is revealing, but I know right away that it's there. This time I've been sitting with it for almost a year, and I'm only just starting to make out the forms and patterns I'm seeing.
Back in May of last year (wow… has it really been that long?), in one of these workshops, we danced with the energy, exploring the elements in our Aikido, joining with the rhythm of the music. Getting out of our minds and letting emotion and body find expression through this different way of accessing what we already knew.
But the thing that mattered, the thing that stuck with me, and the thing that's been gnawing at me since that day, was one split second at the very beginning. Sensei was introducing us to what the workshop would involve, and what we were there to explore. ...More
When I signed up, I had no idea who Messisco Sensei was, or what his seminar might be like. I really enjoyed it, especially because the pace was very slow. By that I mean there was a lot of vigorous training, but plenty of time to absorb the information presented. Some seminars are very interesting, but there's so much thrown at you that it's hard to retain any of it. Here I felt I actually was able to experience, and experiment with, what we were working on, not just get a quick look and move on. I'll definitely be looking for more opportunities to train with Dan Messisco Sensei.
This was the first seminar held at Geoff Yudien and Adam Fong's new dojo. Three of us from Aikido of San Diego drove up, picking up a fourth friend along the way. We had a great time, start to finish. A classic road trip, with great truck stop food, long conversations, and amazing scenery. The whole Central Valley was in bloom (almonds, mostly). If you are planning to visit this dojo we would all highly recommend the Residence Inn, Cal Expo as a place to stay. They have big suites that are perfect for 3-5 people. Also, be sure to eat at Thai Chef's House, near the dojo, and the Mongolian BBQ across from the Inn.
Today we sit on Sensei's deck,
the ocean glinting twenty miles away.
Weathered bamboo clatters softly overhead
as we settle in to sit, scattered lightly
like leaves blown into cool shady corners,
or lizards, basking on the warm wood in the sun.
I choose the shade.
Forty minutes? I'm used to just fifteen.
I see the sea, feel the air,
hear the birds, and close my eyes
as Sensei sounds a small, clear chime.
A dozen little birds chatter down the hill,
a faraway crow gives three short caws,
and I wonder what might come up in forty minutes
that's managed to keep itself hidden from fifteen.
A small plane hums overhead, and I think of flying.
When I flew I got bit, hard. I loved flying.
I had a great teacher, and a community of friends.
I was never going to stop flying.
And then I stopped flying.
I worry, briefly, about that rhythm to things.
Flying, engineering, music...
Is it just that, the rhythm of things?
They come, stay for a time, and go?
They go with good reason, but they go.
A neighbor's horse gives a sharp snort.
Right. And horses too.
What about Aikido?
The thought of someday not training anymore,
not wanting to train, not missing it...
It's unimaginable, gut-wrenching.
But could it go, too, in time?
The flying, engineering, music, and horses,
those were things I was trying to become,
was trying to get good at, would be someday.
They were places I did not belong,
and was struggling to get to.
When I saw this about