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Old 07-11-2012, 01:34 PM   #5
bkedelen's Avatar
Dojo: Boulder Aikikai
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 449
Re: It Had to Be Felt #8: Saotome Mitsugi: One Strike

At either the 2003 or 2004 Aikido Summer Camp in the Rockies I was standing at the outdoor bar of the Hotel Colorado talking to some friends. Saotome Sensei was a few seats away talking to someone else and when his and my companions wandered off we found ourselves sitting quietly one seat apart.

Sensei slowly turned to me and I gestured in greeting and smiled. Without preamble a trace of humor he shook his cigar at me and demanded "punch me in the face".

I was slow to react since the request was so incongruous and because I was still trying to establish myself in Ikeda Sensei's dojo. I was trepidatious at the prospect of what would appear to an observer as an attempt to start a bar fight with a shihan at a party held in his honor.

When I hesitated, he presented me with the incredulous gaze which is well known to everyone who has occasioned to defy his will. I decided to punch him. He was on a bar stool, body perpendicular to me, and head turned back to face my direction. He had typical bar stool posture, which for him is better than my standing posture, but was still something that bordered on a hunch. I took one step and delivered a right cross, overextending myself a bit to make it across the stool that was between us.

I felt Sensei brush past my upper arm and nothing else. The entire world rotated 90 degrees to the left and 90 degrees up at exactly the same time. I want to be clear on this because I have never felt anything like it before or since, and because of what happened next I perceive the entire experience to be quite fresh in my memory. I was not pulled or pushed, not compelled to move by psychology or reaction, not manipulated to move through kuzushi or redirection. It was as if I had punched a part of space that was bent and by interacting with that space my orientation was quite precisely altered despite my movement being utterly unopposed.

I was now standing on my toes, bending backward over the stool and looking straight up. Sensei was holding the lit end of his cigar directly over my right eyeball. I was frozen because he was touching my arm, and it took a second for me to realize the nature of the red-gray smear partly obscuring my vision. He slipped a hand under my arm and stood me up to face him, now grinning hugely.

He paused for a moment, looking at me while I reoriented. After I got a breath he held his cigar up and asked me "You know this is big poison?" "Y-Yes" I stammered in response. He nodded, turned, and started walking away. A few steps away, turned back and added before wandering off "Might be big medicine, too."

Last edited by bkedelen : 07-11-2012 at 01:36 PM.
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