Happy Birthday Sensei
February 27, 2022
Hellos and Thank Yous
I wanted to welcome two boys who joined our Teen program. Also, please welcome Dimitri to our Adult program. He came by on Wednesday and signed up on Saturday. I want to thank everyone who helped this Saturday as Derrell, Danny, and I were away leaving Frank as the only regularly scheduled instructor on a typical Saturday to be there holding down the dojo-fort. Omar, Paul, and Sheri helped to make the day go smoothly as well as many of the Junior Deshi. Welcome and thank you!
To Do or Not to Do’s
Lehrman Sensei – Wednesday, March 10, 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 attend.
Aikido of Red Bank’s 20th Anniversary Seminar – SaturdayMarch 26, 10:00 am – 2:30 pm. An event not to be missed. Please join me at the seminar with Yamada Sensei and Konigsberg Sensei. ASNJ’s 2:00 Adult and 3:00 Junior Deshi classes will be canceled on that day.
Kyu Testing – Saturday, April 23, 2:00 pm. Class is at 2:00, Kyu Tests at 3:30 followed by a Potluck party. Speak to Danny, Frank, or Derrell if you think you are ready to test.
Hakama Class – Sunday, May 29, 11:00 am. This is mandatory for all ASNJ instructors; instructors from any dojo are welcome. There is no charge.
Dean Sluyter-hosted Meditation – Sunday, May 1, 8:45 am-10:00 am. Dean Sluyter, cofounder of ASNJ's Sunday morning meditation program, returns to lead meditation and discussion, and to present his new book, The Dharma Bum's Guide to Western Literature. No charge for the program, open to all.
Spring Seminar – Saturday, May 21, Noon to 6:00 pm. We will be hosting Lehrman Shihan and Koningsburg Shihan for a very interesting seminar. They will be alternating classes exploring wherever Aikido leads. It is not often you will have two Shihans sharing their personal perspectives.
Three-day weekend! Three-day weekend! Three-day weekend! Guess what? Rachel and I are up in Maine. Shocking, I know! We still have snow here. And ice, large sheets of it. There are people on the lake ice fishing (that’s fishing through a hole in the ice for freshwater fish. No one fishes for ice cubes – well, except maybe from the refrigerator.) So far, the first day, we painted the ceilings in the bathroom and Jacob’s room (we installed hi hats during our last trip), finished removing tiles on the wall in the bathroom and skim coated it, taped and spackled the closet I built last trip, ran the electric for the light and switch in the closet, set a trap for the porcupines who are damaging the back cabin, shoveled the snow and chopped the ice by the front porch (that Javier and I built when he visited two years ago), painted the steel targets for the range, went hiking, hung out with our neighbors, oh yeah, and I paid our members USAF dues (--on our slow internet. I mean really slow. DSL line slow. Paint drying slow. I mean, really, we had paint drying to compare. The paint won.) Not bad for the first day here. I wanted to thank everyone that pitched in at ASNJ on Saturday. You all made this relaxing (poor choice of an adjective? It is for Rachel and I.) day possible.
But how do you practice Aikido far away from things; dojo-less in the woods. As unnerving the Covid shut down was, let’s not lose the lessons learned. I keep a bokken and jo up in Maine. When away, do cuts, do a jo kata. Please do not just do 500 sword cuts -- do as many as you can but do them perfectly. It’s not quantity but quality. Work on posture, on shifting your weight, your extension, relaxing your shoulders; pick a target and aim the cut at a spot. Is your grip correct, are your hands aligned, is your hamni good? Work on these things, perfect your cut. Power will come with technique. Now add tancon (pivot), irimi (advance), tensin (withdraw). Do it outside on uneven ground (Ice is a little dangerous. Especially when it is covered by a little snow. Oy. No ER lately, thankfully. You can find my ER trip in an old letter.) But practice before you plop down to channel surf. Practice. Then if you must, grab the remote. By the way (I really wanted to type ‘BTW’, but I didn’t think it would make it through my rigorous (Rachel) Editorial staff (I love you hun)), we don’t have a TV up here. We have a bird feeder and nature. Try it sometime. Bring your boken and jo.
Some corrections for the article last week, my mistakes, Jeff has practiced Aikido for eight years. I overshot each kids’ age by a year: Eva is 13, Patrick is 11, Robert is 9, and John is 7 years old. If I waited a year to post the story, I would be correct.
Yamada Sensei just turned 84. Happy Birthday Sensei. I saw him last month and all I could think was I hope I am in half his shape at his age. He will be Jim Soviero’s dojo, along with Koningsburg Sensei in Red Bank next month and I will be there with a bunch of students. I cancelled our afternoon classes to promote the event and as many of us will be there. It is not often you get to see an Aikido legend in person; so, come to the seminar and wish him a belated happy birthday.
Before Covid, as a dojo, we took a trip three times a year to the NY Aikikai so the teens could take class taught by Yamada Sensei. Think of it like your eighth-grade school trip but wearing white pajamas and falling down a lot.
Learning from an elder reminds me of the Passover Seder as well. During that holiday, Jews are commanded to retell the history of Passover to the next generation. Everyone gathers at the crowded dining room table and reads aloud the Haggadah (which translates as Telling) to the children. In this sense, we all have a duty, not just to practice, but to help Aikido continue, to teach it to our kids. What can you do? The USAF has a scholarship fund for summer camp, various dojos have something similar, bring a teen to class, help promote Aikido to the next generation. It is great to be on the mat but do what you can to help Aikido grow when off the mat, (more than just swinging a bokken in the woods). Heck, write a blog about Aikido, post on Facebook or Tweet about it. Yamada Sensei did more than just practice Aikido, he created a growing, thriving love of Aikido in 39 states, and many other places throughout the world. He has embodied Aikido and dedicated his life to its practice for everyone. The best birthday present you can give Sensei? Introduce a kid to Aikido at any dojo. Do what you can do.
Rachel and I were on a long drive (like the seven hours up to Maine) and I don’t remember why, but we started talking about a TV Commercial from the ‘70s advertising the beautiful Mount Airy Lodge hotel in the Poconos that had a ‘Honeymoon’ Suite with a Champagne-shaped hot tub. The commercial showed beautiful people in the “glass” tub laughing and sipping Champagne (hopefully from a bottle, not the tub). Rachel, with her vivid imagination (she is an artist) thought the actuality would be the most unflattering images of bather’s unclad derriere visible through the glass flattened and squished against the side of the clear tub. Yup, you can’t un-think that one, can you.
So, like anyone on a long drive with plenty of time, we Googled the commercial. We could not find the version of the one with the Champagne tub. There is a new place that has one (the glass is opaque, and it is an Adults-Only place) but we wanted to see the original with the song that would be stuck in your head AND the tub. Some things are fine just to remember and not to be able to Google. I think I am going to watch the goldfinches (the males, BTW, do not have bright yellow feathers during the winter, their plumage dulls) and the nuthatches on the feeder and then maybe go outside and do a Jo kata on the muddy driveway.
“Create each day anew.”
-- Moihei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido
Post Note: This email was delayed as a tree took out our power and internet on Friday during the ice storm. I spent Saturday running a generator and working with PSE&G and my electrician getting the power back up. Internet coming back on Tuesday (Hopefully). I sure do miss that DSL line right now.