A Test of Time
March 31st 2021
Michael has rejoined our program since Covid-19. He was actually “sneaking into” Tai Chi Chuan classes but has rejoined our Aikido program. Also, we need to say hi to couple of youths who have joined that program this week.
A Test of Time
We had our spring kyu tests and I am very happy to congratulate:
5th Kyu – Michael Anderson, Duarte Nobre, and Ryan McCarthy
4th Kyu – Ben Isaac
1st Kyu – Luka Kolosov and Jeremy Burt
All the tests, as expected, were great and I am sitting here thinking of each student and ‘their story.’ Each of them has some interesting history filled with challenges that preceded their kyu tests. For them, their stories made the tests more than just a ten-minute hurdle to earn a new rank. I want to remind all of them of this as their real accomplishment: the test was just the milestone in their story. I want to thank each of you for letting me be part of your story. You are all inspirational.
I want to thank Sensei Lehrman for traveling from Brooklyn to help administer the tests, make them more special, and saved me from challenging my dyslexia when reading Japanese.
We have been working on a new program that will start, if all goes as planned, in the beginning of June. The new class, Adaptive Aikido, will be held on Monday nights. This class has been curated to accommodate school-age individuals based on their specific learning abilities. Adaptive Aikido has additional supports in place for students who need either a different learning style or pacing to help them further improve their practice in a traditional Aikido class. I will release more information as we near the official start of this class.
Kids’ tests on April Saturday April 3 at 11:30am. Please pre-register your child if you want them to test. Feel free to come by and watch. The cuteness is off the charts and the Aikido is really good, too.
A Spring Fling
What a great name for a seminar!? (Sorry, I think out loud when writing, we are not scheduling any seminars right now). We had our post-kyu test potluck party and it was great. Too much food, some adult libations, friends, family, and perfect weather. We were outside in the parking lot enjoying life slowly returning to what it used to be. The dojo is healthy, the members are supportive of the dojo and each other. Life is good. Thanks to all and God bless each of you. Also, the football catch in the parking lot was awesome.
Aikido Movement of the Day
I had a great class in my head. Bending your legs to make uke go up. I had it all worked out until the first technique and the uke, my son (he and I are a pod – that’s a new Covid-generated term I learned.) grabbed my wrist with a very aggressive attack (yes, my son is a pain in the donkey). I like my ukes to be strong and difficult when I teach but this attack was very forward, so I went with it. From that moment, the class changed. To allow uke to go forward, continue their attack and circle up and back into the emptiness behind them while always allowing them to continue their momentum forward. We did five techniques, from reverse koshi, to irimi, I was having fun. At the end, which was a surprise to me, it all made sense to do shihonage and just let uke go. It is important to be able to adjust in class as in your Aikido technique. Sometimes the plan you had for class changes, for any number of reasons, and it is important to be flexible enough to modify your lesson when the need arises. That doesn’t mean, as a teacher, you should not have a class prepared, but sometimes, that might not be the best class, like you are doing koshi and you only have beginners. Be prepared but be flexible in your Aikido.
I find my best Aikido is when I do what uke ‘tells’ me how they want to be thrown. I think that is what my Aikido is becoming.
To Ki or Not to Ki
We have new members joining the Tai Chi Chuan class which is causing me to restructure the class. Normally, I would focus on Form Correction and Push Hands. Now I am teaching the Form to the beginners and combining it with Form Correction for the others. The class is something new for me as well as them, in a good way. I intended to talk about practice and learning but talked a lot of Ki/Chi, what it is and what it means in Aikido/TCC as the beginners have lots of questions. Great conversations, especially with Tim, a new student and Professor of Philosophy at Seton Hall. Talk about having a ringer for great questions!
To learn any martial art, you need to practice a lot, unless you are in a movie and the totalitarian computer that has created a false reality matrix can download the martial art from a spaceship flying through tunnels in the earth while being attacked by robots. No, this doesn’t happen to you? Me neither, so, we practice. I find there are two models I practice in. I can focus on practicing not making any mistakes, or I can focus on learning something new and being excellent. Both are strategies to practice but I have always found the latter yields more for the time spent. In the first model where I consciously try not to make mistakes, I get stuck on what is wrong and never bother to explore the unknown. I can’t embrace what I do not know and focus on that unknown. With the second model, my time practicing is more focused on improving me. That is what my practice of TCC and Aikido is all about.
--Sensei Jay Tall