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  • Writer's pictureSensei Jay

Don Quixote de la Aikido

October 16, 2022


Please welcome Kaoru to our adult program. We also had two kids sign up. I want to welcome all and thank everyone in the dojo for helping. Nora, who joined a couple of months ago ask to help with the Saturday kids’ classes. She is a teacher by trade and along with a bunch of other adult students help instruct the 15-20 kids in a typical Saturday class. Thanks to everyone and if you want to get more involved, we can always use help. Please talk to Danny, Frank, or Derrell if you want to get involved.

What’s Happenin’

· Fall Seminar at ASNJ – Saturday, October 29, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. We will be hosting Sensei Wee-Wow Dumlao for an all-day seminar starting 10 am. Potluck to follow. More details to follow.

· Halloween Class – Monday, October 31, 7:00 pm. - Join us for class. Leave your gi at home, wear a costume. I got a really good one year. And I can roll in it.

· Veterans day Class - Friday November 11th at 7:00. The class will be taught by the members of ASNJ who have served. Please join us to help celebrate the service they have done for us. There will be light refreshments after class.

· Yagyu Shinkage Ryu Introductory Seminar with Sensei Paul Manogue at Aikido of Park SlopeSaturday, November 19 at 1:30 – 4:30 pm.

· Kyu Tests and Holiday PartySaturday Dec 10. 2:00 pm: Wheel of Ukemi. 3:30 pm: Kyu tests. 4:30: Potluck party. If you wish to test, you MUST speak to Frank, Danny or Derrell to get permission. If you do not, you will not be allowed to test.

Shihan Wee-Wow Dumlao

ONLY two weeks away. All classes are canceled this day.

You can pre-register thru this link:

We are hosting Sensei Wee-Wow Dumlao at our Fall Seminar on Saturday, October 29 starting at 10:00 am.

Don Quixote and the Windmill

This reference is to what is often considered the first modern novel (actually it was two books- The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha or, in Spanish, El Ingenioso Hidalgo and don Quijote de la Mancha) written in 1605 and 1615 respectively, by Miguel de Cervantes. The story is about Alonso Quijano, a very unimportant and insignificant noble who is obsessed with reading stories about Chivalry. He was thought to be crazy, and he so wanted to be chivalrous that he dressed up and he played the role of a knight he called Don Quizote. The most familiar scene was when Don Quixote fought what he believed to be a dragon but was actually a windmill. The mysterious of the story was he truly crazy or just pretended to be crazy to become more well known. What we would refer to in today’s lingo “Fifteen minutes of Fame”.

I am not actually interested in Don Quiote for the Aikido lesson, and I am sorry for the tangent but, heck, I am supposed to make these letters interesting, and a little literary culture never hurt anyone. My aikido class was focused on the windmill. The concept or visual of a windmill affected my Aikido class. This has long been an important idea in my Aikido and often reconfirmed in my Tai Chi Chuan practice. The arms move because of the waist and your waist either shifts or turns but for that relationship to be expressed the arms need to be relaxed and extended. When your arms are relaxed, they move through a full arch, extended – like the blades of a windmill, not like a Tyrannosaurus rex’s arms. The windmill is perfect as the wind is your waist, moving the blades. Uke, the attacker, is the guy on a horse with a lance charging you. Get it. Are you in my brain yet?

An interesting extension of this idea is while you cannot and do not want to attack uke. To do that, you need to bend your arms to do that, you lose the circular motion of the windmill. You stay upright, you move your waist and that moves your extended arms. Them uke has no choice but to get caught into your motion, the blades of the windmill. They are in harmony with your movement caught in the same wind of your waist turn and just follow along, riding their pony to nowhere. I got a little poetic on this one. Read the book. You will understand. And if you don’t, I at least go you to read a classic book. Win-Win.

Portsmouth or Bust

Hal, his son Paul, Parviz and I left NJ Friday afternoon and flew up to New Hampshire to join Aaron Case Sensei host Hal Lehrman Sensei at a seminar at his dojo. We were joined by Linda from ASNJ and Crystal from her new dojo Aikido of New London. This is my second time to Aaron’s dojo in Portsmouth and if you are ever in the area, do not miss it. Some of the nicest people and a pretty high level of Aikido. Hal did a lot of jo work after an hour of the finer points of koyuho. Lunch at a Greek restaurant, I am with a old friend Bob Casanta. Some great conversation (and these amazing things called Eggplant Fries) and then a couple more hours to finish the day. Jamie Kahn was there for an afternoon roll, and I grabbed a ride with him to Portland to mean my lovely wife to head up to our place in Maine. They all continued with another class on Sunday, but the leaves are changing color in Maine, and I needed to spend time with my family in the woods. Thanks all for a great weekend and some great aikido. It was a 4-ibuprofen seminar. It was much more restrained than the last time I was there and beat the heck out of Javier. He got a couple of good throws in, but we will ignore that part.

Why We Train

This is more a play on words than my normal play on words. (Read on, you will see.). This story is not about the event but the lesson of the event. I do not take the train often but when I do… (I sound like “the most interesting guy” commercial)… I was heading up to the seminar in Portsmouth with Hal. I left New Jersey with NJ Transit as my chariot. I arrived at NY Penn and headed over to 34th Street to catch the subway to Brooklyn. As I got into the station, a man in front of me ‘jumped’ the turnstile. I got off at Atlantic Avenue, turned around and noticed the same fare beater got off at the same station.

I always carry a small pocketknife because working in construction, it is often needed. (Ever go to Home Depot and you want one piece of wood that is strapped down to 99 other pieces? This happens to me weekly. Hence, the pocketknife.) When I walked off the train, my gi bag pulled the knife out of my back pocket (I have a camo duffle bag that I get a lot of compliments on. Why? It was bought for me by Rachel. She has good taste.) It flew a few feet away. Would you believe the scofflaw’ian kicked my pocketknife toward the tracks, and it skidded a foot from the edge? Confused as to why he kicked my knife, I walked over to get it. As I headed to my knife, he tried to push me toward the track. Thanks to the many teachers, partners, and hours of training, I am not easy to move. I turned and gave him a little shove that moved him a good distance away. I picked up my pocketknife and walked to the exit. Even more strangely, he jumped onto the tracks and walked away. I was really amazed by the whole event.

Not knowing the law, my fear during the event was if could I be arrested because I had a pocketknife on the subway. I know a pocketknife is legal in NYC, but the subways have different rules (I will Google later). I was amazed that it did not dawn on me to be afraid of the guy. That is the reason I am writing this. People often ask me about learning martial arts to defend themselves and I explain the biggest skill is not panicking, and ultimately, not being scared at all. If you have a huge resource of techniques and you freeze, then anything you have learned is of no use. The training, meditating, all that exploring my thoughts and feelings, has given me a skill to be centered. This is the ultimate in martial arts training.

The point of this is not to share what happened to me on the NYC subway but what did NOT happen to me. We learn, through practicing techniques, to have uke revolve around our center. If you focus on an attack, any attack (subway or mat), you are focused on your attacker’s center and not doing Aikido. When you stay centered and do not focus on the attack, the attacker gets lost, they experience the fear they intended you to experience. The attacker needs you to panic for them to be in charge. If you don’t get scared, they end up panicking instead of you. This is the lesson and what my practice has given me. It is why I train, when on a train to use my training to be centered. Then you can be “the most interesting guy in the world,” or at least safe.

--Jay Tall

Sensei, Aikido Schools of NJ

“Study how water flows into a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also, learn from holy books and wise people. Everything – even mountains, rivers, plants, and trees should be your teacher.”

-- Morehei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido

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