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So, after taking a wrong exit off of the very confusing freeway intersection. I took a long detour over the Oakland Bay Bridge and a double back on the Merlin(?) Island. I managed to avoid the toll, by being completely flumoxed by the signage and drove down a lane reserved for those that have paid. I have no idea if I was caught on camera, only time will tell.
I finally arrived at Aikido of Berkeley, was invited in and another practice began. Sensei Feder lead the class. I liked what she was doing. She has a great energy and enthusiasm in her style of teaching. Sensei Feder seems to have a fairly eclectic style having trained widely. Anyway, she was very clear and concise in her descriptions and demonstrations.
As usual, I got to train with just about everyone on the mat. In all of the dojo's I've visited so far, they have followed the same pattern. A technique is demonstrated, students pair up and the exercise practised for a short space of time. The teacher then demos again, usually another technique, a new partner is found, and the cycle repeated.
This is different to the way I have been accustomed to. I have been used to less frequent changes of partner and more study of the technique being demonstrated. When I return to teaching, I will definitely take some aspect of this way home, but not all. I think the changing of partners more frequently, has the obvious benefit of everyone getting to practice with multiple partners. However, I think I will sti
Up early and over the hills to Ukiah, a beautiful but very winding drive from the misty cold of the coast, to the dry heat of the valley. At the first sight of sun, I found myself outside of my van, basking like a lizard, warming up my blood before dropping down to the valley floor and the welcoming faces of Janet (Rosen) and her partner Stu. A welcome shower, some cool drinks and much pleasant conversation covered most of Friday.
On Saturday I travelled with Janet, down to The Wellspring Dojo in Santa Rosa, for a day seminar with Wendy Palmer. I was pleased to be able to do this, as I had read one of her books back along. The morning session was not aikido as such, rather a taster of the somatic work that Ms Palmer is engaged in with her wider client group. It was interesting, but not really new to me, as I had been doing similar work to this, with corporate clients back in the 1990's. The afternoon session was aikido, which was a pleasant session. Sensei Palmer is a very erudite, calm and graceful teacher. I managed to practice with just about everyone there (it wasn't a huge group). I had fun and enjoyed the day, it felt very 'Californian' though, which is not a bad thing, just very flavoured in the 'West |Coast' style. There were a few students there who practice with Richard Heckler, so they suggested I stop by their class on Tuesday, as Sensei Heckler would be teaching. This I decided to do.
On Sunday Janet and I cruised down to her home dojo, spend
Monday night practice at Aikido Ashland. Sensei Michael Friedl took the class. Michael epitomises the instant generosity of American folk, that had so surprised me when I first visited the US back in the 1970's. Within moments of meeting, he had offered me his dojo as a place to sleep and clean up, we hadn't even got to the changing rooms!
The practice was good, the temperature was still pretty hot (it had been in the 90's all day). So the doors were wide open and we all practised without hakama, wearing white belts. I liked this approach, but felt slightly at sea with each change of partner, as I didn't have the 'known' grade of the new partner to gauge things by. Not a problem though, each new person I feel is just another new colour in the kinaesthetic pallet.
I learnt a number of variations of techniques I recognise. I am finding that my footwork is are where there is most divergence from my own habit. The hands are relatively easy to change, but my feet instinctively want to react in the way I know. Much of the footwork I have encountered over here, is of a more linear nature than I am used to. So I am aware that in learning, my mind is focussed in a different way than when I just 'do'.
I have decided by this point to just practice and not try to remember everything, which is virtually impossible, given that everywhere I go, I encounter things that are being done differently (if even only slightly). I will trust that thi
Well, finally, I can put some time in at the keyboard. I had intended to keep a diary of each days events, as they unfolded. But, I have come to realise that, quite often, my intentions do not always manifest themselves in reality.
So a little like the pattern of the journey itself, I will write when I feel the urge, not when I think I should .
I have been in the US for two weeks now. Much of the first 10 days were taken up with essential work on the old VW Bus that I had won on ebay, before I arrived.
I could probably create a blog just on the trials an tribulations of the "Twinkie" (as my old friends kids quite aptly named the white bus). However I am here supposedly to tell y'all about my adventures in aikido, rather than give you a running maintenance log on the V Dub.
Having said that, if there is anyone out there reading this, who has decent knowledge of the Type 2, 2 litre fuel injected van, then please make yourself known to me via PM, I may need to pick your brain at some point.
Anyway, back to aikido...
After a slow start, I managed to make it down to the very lovely dojo of the Two Cranes Aikido group, in NE Seattle. I managed to train there for three separate sessions, with three different teachers. More of this in a moment.
I know that some of you reading this, will be disappointed in my reporting style. I am not great on detail, and particularly not great on remembering the names of the techniques that were practised. There are a coupl