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  • Writer's pictureSensei Jay

A Bag of Groceries

A Bag of Groceries

January 20, 2022


I had a fireman come to try out Tai Chi Chuan class. I don’t know why but it sounds like the beginning of a joke. I will let you know how it goes.

To Do or Not to Do’s

žLehrman Sensei – Wednesday, February 9, 7:00 pm. Lehrman Sensei teaches the second Wednesday of each month. This is a mandatory class for all ASNJ instructors and an exciting treat for all our students and guests. We welcome visitors from other dojos who would like to join us.

žSuper Bowl LVI – Sunday, February 13, 6:00 pm. Yup, we are doing it. Super Bowl at the dojo. Wanna watch the game with a bunch of rowdy martial artists (maybe just boisterous), I know just the place! Bring a dish or a beverage. We have the big screen and we recently bought speakers. If your team is losing, feel free to koshi someone. (BTW, the only reason I know Roman numerals is crossword puzzles. I am not sure that’s their target audience at NFL? They can use normal numbers now.)

žKyu Testing – Saturday, April 23, 2:00 pm. We will uncover and oil the Wheel of Ukemi. Class at 2:00, Kyu Tests at 3:30 followed by a Potluck party. The Tuesday and Friday night classes will be focusing on test prep. Speak to Danny, Frank, or Derrell if you think you are ready to test.

žAdaptive Aikido class is a class for kids with special needs. We are looking for kids that can take advantage of this class. If you know someone that can benefit, please contact Danny. The form is available on our website on the Adaptive Aikido page.


I want to apologize as had the wrong link for Aikira Tohei Sensei’s video last week. I sent a correct email right away after but if you did not see it, here is the correct link:

Aikido for All

Due to my role as Sensei, I speak to a lot of people interested in trying Aikido, sometimes in the dojo, sometimes other places. I share this aspect of my life often as it is an important part of who I am. Jacob, my younger son, was home this winter break from University of Hartford (he is on the Dean’s list. A little parental kvelling.) and a classmate from California stayed with us on her way back to school. At home over family dinners, I often speak about stuff at the dojo. I was telling a story about class, and she was interested with lots of questions. We discussed a lot of Aikido and as she was interested in possibly taking a class. I gave her the name of a dojo in Connecticut. Clearly, the 3-hour commute to ASNJ did not make sense. I love Aikido and want people to practice. Anywhere.

Do you find yourself talking to people about your practice? Do you try to get them to a dojo? If not, I have a sort of challenge (way safer then Tide Pods or that Milk Crate one, oy vey). Recommend a person you know to try Aikido, your dojo or one that makes sense for them. You can find all the dojos on the USAF site. Since the pandemic, many dojos are struggling. Let’s help out. If we all get one person to take a class, we can build our community and help keep Aikido alive and well.

When is Uke a Bag of Groceries?

Andy Small and I often drive together to the Sunday 11:00 class. It is a fun class with four rotating instructors (they take turns teaching not like doing gyrations. Different rotating. Although, I guess rolling?). When we arrived, Barry was just finishing the Ukemi class (great class for beginners to work on falling) before he was to teach the 11:00. With only the two of us in that class, Barry was in a quandary. Me, the Sensei and Andy, a 4th Dan, who can he use as uke? How does he teach class? I saw his panic and told him not to worry, I am suspending the rule of asking a higher rank from being your uke. We are just here to practice (and work up an appetite for lunch afterwards at Galloping Hill).

I try to never teach when taking class and let Barry do his thing, but I was often stopped to explain why I did something. It is usually the same answer – because that way was uke was doing it, I was just following. We did mostly Juwaza (random throws from one attack), as Barry decided not to teach a formal lesson. The three of us had a great time, worked out hard and sweated a lot (Did I mention Galloping Hill has beer?).

The real interesting moment for me was in Kokyudosa. They would connect with me and then, after they lifted my shoulders, try to shove me over. It did not work; they fell over instead. I explained that when you have harmony with uke, when you get them to lift “up”, don’t push them and destroy the harmony, continue to move as one. You don’t try to move uke, you all move together. Seeing a glazed confused look, I had a thought. Imagine you’re carrying something, like a bag of groceries. You have lifted it and hold it to your chest with both arms. You don’t ‘push’ it, you move with it, as one big thing, you, and the groceries. Think of uke as your groceries. Lift uke, connect with them, and then move you and uke together, think of it as one event, uke and you are just one big thing. You are now one thing, moving that way.

This should be applied to all Aikido techniques. But I was not teaching that class, so I just stuck to Kokyudosa. (Did I mention Galloping Hill sells a 32 oz beer for $5?)

Stuck on Jo

I am still studying the of Aikira Tohei Sensei video of jo techniques. I am still blown away. I have always loved Jo (that sounds like a country song) and remember when I “got” the concept many years ago on 15th Street when Stickles Sensei taught a seminar at Aikido of Park Slope. That was when the idea that we move like a bokken or a jo came clear to me. (His Aikido was also amazing).

This week in class, uke attacked with the jo. I love that in Aikido; give your attacker a weapon, let them feel a little more important until they go ‘boom.’ Many students were very confused by the techniques, even after I showed them, they are exactly like doing morotetori (two hands grab one wrist). Just with a stick instead. The connect is longer. We need to understand the relationship, our movement, all should be the same. The ‘communication’ between uke and nage is to be the same whether we are using a weapon or a wrist grab. One just seems scarier than the other (until they go ‘boom’).

But how many wrist grab attacks do that, simulate something scarier? You have katetori, one-handed wrist grab. This is basically a slowed-down version of tski (punch). Ryotetori (grab each wrist with each hand) is a slowed-down version of Yokomenuchi (strike to the neck). Morotetori is the slowed-down version of jo technique. I mean really, do you ever expect someone to just grab your one wrist with both hands (Has it ever happened to you? Probably not unless you owe money, and two Mafia goons grabs you on each wrist. But we have another technique for that.). It is not the most likely attack you will see in real life, but it is a great way to experience being attacked by a stick and how to move that way in a less scary mode. The footwork is the same, the focus is the same, it’s just a different method of communication. (Ok, before someone quibbles over this, they are not ‘exactly’ the same.)

If you are not an Aikido person or a beginner, we have many terms on our website if you need to get a better reference. (Hopefully, I got this link correct.) I still have no idea how the internet works. And some people think Aikido is complicated.

--Sensei Jay

“A warrior's mission is to foster the success of others.”

- Moihei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido

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