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I write this entry whilst sitting in the Joshua Tree National Park. After a beautiful desert sunset, the moon is up and the stars are starting to appear. The day began with breakfast in amongst the Mojave yuccas, Joshua trees and countless other desert plants that are covered in sharp points. Before I'd even got to finish my cooking, I had been joined by an Antelope ground squirrel, who once he'd got over his initial shyness, spent the best part of an hour, trying to find a way into my van. He was very persistent, trying each wheel arch in turn, then finally settling on jumping up onto the front fender, scrabbling up the spare wheel and doing his best to get through the windscreen. Whilst all this attempted burglary was going on, I saw some Gambel's quail, a Black tailed jack rabbit, a humming bird, some cactus wren and a road runner. A nice start to a very quiet and peaceful day.
I had fully expected to be gasping from oven like temperatures, but to my very pleasant surprise, it rained! The first rain that I had felt since just before Independence day. It was great to feel the liquid drops on my body. Only a few light showers though and the clouds kept the temperatures down to a pleasant heat for most of the day.
All this is a nice contrast to the last week or so in LA.
When I set out on this trip, I was determined to have an open mind to every type of practice I came across. Figuring that there is wisdom in the old martial arts adage of trying to culti
After finally getting my head clear, by being thrown around by Pacific Ocean waves, rather than Aikidoka, I begin Blog #6. This is my most interesting one to date (for me, anyway).
After a relatively short drive along the coast from Santa Barbara, I finally made Interstate 10 in Santa Monica, which took me to the mid Wilshire district of the city of LA. I was there to meet Corky Quakenbush, who I had wanted to meet, since Graham Christian had sent me a Youtube link of him, over 18 months ago. I had found the videos very interesting, and wrote to Corky to tell him so. We exchanged a couple of emails, and I said I would see him, when I made it down this way.
I remember speaking to Allister Gillies (a UK aikidoka and occasional contributor to aikiweb) at one of Dan's Seminars in London. He had trained with Corky in Japan when Sunadomari Sensei was still alive. Allister was a student of my teacher (Ken Williams) for a number of years, until around Nidan/Yondan I think. He said that Sunadomari was one teacher that he felt, who was even softer with more power than Sensei Williams. Personally, I would have loved to have felt that for myself.
Anyway, back in LA, I found Corky's place, and within a short time of my arrival, was on the mat training with him and Joyce, one of his students.
Now, it is going to be quite difficult for me to give a proper account, of what occurred in the following hour or so, that we practised. One of the qualities I feel I have, i
So I made it down to Santa Cruz via Hwy 35 and a nostalgic visit to Alice's Restaurant (where you can get anything you want!). 20 years ago I had pulled up there on a motorcycle, along with many many others, showing off their mean machines, still ticking with heat from the thrashing along the skyline drive. This time I burbled up in my air-cooled VW and sunk a creamy topped hot chocolate (how times have changed).
Friday evening class at the Santa Cruz dojo was lead by it's chief instructor Sensei Linda Holiday. This was a well attended class of about 25, with a mix of grades. As usual I am writing this days after the event, so I don't remember the names of all the techniques practised Suffice to say, I enjoyed the practice as usual and Sensei Holiday's calm, knowledgeable and focussed teaching style. When doing her rounds of the mat, I practised with her a few times, nice aikido, soft and direct. After the class I spent some time talking to her, as she expressed a fair interest in my lineage and aikido in the UK. I decided to stay for the following morning's class which would also be taken by her. Besides, Santa Cruz is a nice place to hang out for a while, I might even make a weekend of it.
Saturday class was started with some misogi exercises that had learnt during her time in Japan. The class then followed a similar format to the previous evening, although this time, there were more kokyu projections, an exercise I always enjoy to both give and receive, t