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  • Writer's pictureSensei Jay

It’s All or Nothing

It’s All or Nothing

December 7, 2020

Say Hello

We would like to welcome a few new members this week: The Shapiros - Menachem and his son. Let’s also welcome Les, who showed up at my Tai Chi Chuan class and still wanted to come back! Please say hi and welcome them.

Kids’ Tests

WOW. I love watching kids do their thing. These were the first tests since January this year. The highlight was our new 4-year-old taking her first test and melting the heart of everyone with an overabundance of cuteness. And her Aikido was surprisingly good. Seeing her throw her teen uke in Sumi Otoshi was inspiring. Congrats all the wonderful children who tested. Hopefully, we will be able to have our traditional pizza party after tests soon.

Adult Tests

Please remember this Saturday, December 12, will be holding adult Kyu testing. We will do it separate groups to keep the numbers down for Covid compliance and safety. If you are testing, remember to bring your uke. In the event you cannot, a suitable uke will be provided for you. We have plenty of hand sanitizer and the mat will be sanitized between tests.

Bloggaling Along

I know I mentioned this last week, but I am not beyond endless dojo-promotion. If you want to help us at ASNJ, please read my blog on our website and write a review. You will help our Google SEO (see last week or read the blog) Here is the link. Or if you also feel so inclined, review us on Google.


December 12 – 2:30 Class/Kyu Tests/Potluck

A special class for only for individuals testing with yours truly, followed by Kyu tests (at 3:30), followed by potluck party (we have a large parking lot and mat to physically distance and masks will be worn). All members and their families are invited. We will have an outdoor fire pit for the party.

Aikidos and Aikidon’ts

These past few weeks I have focused on getting “off the line.” In tsuki and shomen, the line extends in the straight direction of uke’s attack. It is the spot where the attacker is focused. Any other spot (remember the blog on emptiness) is off the line and is your friend. Uke’s force lands on the line, and on the now-emptiness, that was formerly you.

But what is the line in yokomen? Where is the magic spot (or off the line)? The line is now an arc. The arc is where you do not want to be. You can be inside – uchi, or outside – soto, the line. Both are openings to great techniques. I find watching others practicing a great way to see this. Try watching a class and it will be simple to see the line. Stay off it.

It’s All or Nothing

In Push Hands, we did a basic exercise where you are slowly pushed until 100% on your back leg and then further. You shift and sink back into your leg. During that, you pay attention to where you are resisting. You relax your arm, and allow the force to move into your shoulder, then you relax your shoulders, and the force lowers into your back, then your waist, then your hips, your leg, your foot and finally the ground. (I always sing the kids song “head, shoulders, knees, and toes”). This is the exercise to discover your root. Under your foot (hopefully) is the earth, the recipient of your root. When pushed, relax and you root. What stops you is tension and that is the place you become stuck. Find it and let go of the fight, the tension. You go from being a bunch of pieces to one. This is one of the main goals of Push Hands practice.

When we look for an expression of this in Aikido, we found the best way to see this is in wrist locks. You grab the hand and then lock the elbow, from the elbow, you lock the shoulder, then the spine, then the waist and finally the foot. Uke is stuck, they have become one unit, not a bunch of pieces. To do this, you need to feel the connectiveness in you, then you recreate that in uke. We are looking for the foot, not the wrist, same thing TCC and Aikido. We are looking to experience the whole body. So, the term “wrist lock” is only the beginning of the practice. You want to grab a wrist and get a foot. Maybe that is pushing it!

--Sensei Jay Tall

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”


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