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  • Writer's pictureSensei Jay

Gas Pedal

March 9, 2023


What’s Happenin’

  • Javier Burghi will be the guest instructor for Sensei Jay’s class– Weds March 22th, 7:00

  • Lehrman Sensei Seminar at Bookman Sensei’s Tenzan Aikido Dojo in Seattle, Washington, March 25 and 26.

  • Lehrman Sensei is teaching class– Weds April 12th, 7:00

  • Seminar with Sensei Steve Pimsler, Chief Instructor of NY Aikikai – Saturday, April 22 starting at 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. Potluck to follow.

  • Spring Testing – Saturday May 20. 2:00 pm Sensei Jay’s Wheel of Ukemi Class; 3:30 Tests. Potluck celebration to follow.

Who’s Tripping I was talking to my dear friend Sharon Dominguez and she told me how much she missed seeing our teens at NYA and it hit me: We need to do that again. Please reach out to Frank as we plan our next dojo trip, probably in May, to the NY Aikikai to take Steve Pimsler Sensei’s Saturday class. As many of you know, recently became the Chief Instructor at the New York Aikikai and what better way to welcome him than taking our kids on a road trip to train with him. While Pimsler Sensei is coming to ASNJ for a seminar this April, I think it is great to continue our tradition of visiting the dojo where Aikido started in the U.S. Watch for more information. Spring Seminar We will be hosting Steve Pimsler Sensei for our Spring Seminar on Saturday, April 22. I don’t think I had ever taken Steve’s class before I did at the NY Aikikai Christmas Seminar this past December. He used to teach a lot of morning classes at the NY Aikikai. At this class a few months ago, I was so blown away I knew we had to invite him to NJ. Steve was named as the Chief Instructor at New York Aikikai. Join us in a celebration of Aikido. Testing, Testing, 123 We are getting a large interest in students prepping (No, not the survivalist kind. Although for some, it is not much different.) for their kyu test on May 20. I think it is going to be a fantastic day. I have repaired the Wheel of Ukemi (we had some over-enthusiastic spinning of the wheel). If you are thinking of testing, speak to Frank, Danny, or Derrell (who are now all Shidoin. Please congratulate them.). Even if you are not ready to test, come by, take the Wheel of Ukemi class and watch the tests to help prepare for when you are ready. Or come and join us for the party afterwards as we do know how to party. Also, we have the test requirements and videos of every test technique on our website: https://www.aikidoschoolsofnj.com/testing A Dojo is More than a Mat and Four Walls But let's face it, you do need those things. I am heading out to pick up the new canvas that we purchased to resurface the mat and we are starting to paint the dojo. Instead of one BIG painting day, we are doing it a little at a time. Tom has offered to spend a few hours a week to paint. After we do a test area, if you wish to help out, please let me know if you can come by at some point when we do not have classes and paint a little. Afterward, we will clean under the canvas, disinfect the underside (always a good idea. I mean you wash your hands after you go to the bathroom --I hope. Thus, we should wash the mat after we change the canvas. TMI? I get that a lot.) One other exciting dojo development, we now take Venmo. Thanks to Connie for the great idea. You can send us money in the cloud. The info is at the front desk. What Is in Your Hand? More than a pair? I have been having the discussion with Hal on and off for quite a while, but it is one of the hardest lessons. We are all manually focused. Or focused on the world through our hands. We do everything with our hands (and hopefully wash them). Hal was repeating the story of Chiba Sensei who said he discovered how to do kokyudosa when he forgot he had arms. Chen Man Ching tells the story that he did not learn how to do Push Hands until he had a dream that he had no arms, only hands. I have focused on this idea in both my Aikido and Tai Chi Chuan practices. I work on using my hands only as a method of communication, not as the instrument that is doing the techniques. Your hands are only an extension of your body, starting at your feet, controlled by your waist, and then extending to your arms. Let's look at a car. Many of us drive and never think about how they work (until they don’t then you watch YouTube to become an instant mechanic). All we know is we step on the gas pedal and the car goes. Press harder, you go faster. We all think the gas pedal is what makes the car go. It’s magic? But the gas pedal opens the valve to let more gas into the engine (Remember the old days of carburetors?) which causes the engine (assuming you are not driving a Tesla, but that is another letter) to rev faster and the coil delivers more electrical pulses to the spark plugs causing the transmission to spin the axel faster... You get the idea. The gas pedal is what we think of while a hundred things are going on to make you go faster. We think of our hands the same way. ALL the parts of the body do their part working together in unison while we tend to only think our hands are doing everything. Some of us try to only let our hands do all the work. If the car is turned off, it doesn’t matter how hard you push on the gas, you don’t go anywhere. The pedal is not magic. The next time you drive, think of your Aikido practice. It is the whole body that is important. Your hands are just your connection to uke, like the gas pedal is just your connection to the car. Drive your uke like you drive a car. Hopefully, not too recklessly. --Jay Tall Sensei, Aikido Schools of NJ

"One does not need buildings, money, power or status to practice the art of peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train."

-- Morehei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido

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