Justin's Links

about - RSS - donate - search:

Saturday, 24 April - link

sweaty rolling around smiling

I train with some tough guys at my dojo East Bay Aikido. Earlier in the week, I matched hands with a NFL player. Sure, he's a kicker not a linebacker, but as someone pointed out, he's accustomed to extremely large people rushing at him and having to defend himself.

The first time I trained with him, I couldn't move him. He was like a rock. Barely smiling! Tough and hard. He didn't even seem to take pleasure in my scrawny ministrations, my futile efforts to fling him around the mat. But fling me he did. I flew hard. Whew! I felt myself holding my breath - you're like no one I've ever trained with! I told him. He looked pained for just a moment and relented some of his tension.

This week when we worked out, I saught him out and I was glad to have a chance to go up against his stiff strong limbs again. Whew! I pushed and played with him, trying to get him to loosen up and fall. I wasn't entirely successful this time either, but we both had a smiling good session.

index.html Picture by Tom Gambell sensei After class, I'm sitting on the mat in a spot of light, reading from his copy of Art of Peace; the text he used to punctuate the ceremony.
Today we celebrated the anniversary of o'Sensei's death (he's actually not Irish - "O" before a word in Japanese denotes respect). We celebrated by practicing the 108 meditation, doing one move 108 times with nine different partners, breaking for meditation and readings from o'Sensei's texts between. Sweaty hard rolling falling and pushing broken by meditation.

Aikido as I imagine it is supposed to be about relaxing flow. But today I was having fun pushing back a bit. One of our Black Belts is a short thick Russian fellow, built so compact and strong - I grasp him and I feel like I'm holding the arms of the Incredible Hulk. He's in complete control of both of our bodies when we train. Once a few months ago I asked him to practice a techinque with me. We never got past the first hand gesture of the technique because he had such evolved observations to make, and then he held me to them! Most people, when they practice with you, they let you get by with a little loose movement on the way to understanding. This gentleman is in the moment, holding you to perfection in each step.

I knew that he couldn't be that much of a stickler today - we each had 108 moves to practice in 90 minutes. So I sought him out, and I grabbed him hard with a big grin on my face. He went through his motions and I put up some resistence. He responded by making sure that he kicked me in the ass each and every time I flung him to the mat. I could barely keep from laughing. And so to with him!

People who are expert in this area have the capacity to play. Training with this guy tests everything you know, because if you're slack, he'll grab your leg and you'll end up flat on your behind. Few people in the dojo test you that way. I look at it as play. He's playing around, it's competitive perhaps, but with a smile and patient gesturing and teaching. Today was a great day for practicing Aikido. I looked around me at all the sweaty smiling rolling around and I was glad for the light.

Posted on 24 April 2004 : 13:02 (TrackBack)
Read Comments

February 2005 - comments are closed on Links.net. Thanks.

email a link to this page

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

Justin's Links, by Justin Hall.