It’s All the Same
May 5, 2021
I want to welcome Wanita and her daughter to our dojo. They both joined and are already throwing people around. We also had a wonderful 7-year-old lad enter our kids’ program.
I was not sure I could say that and not be too “Brooklyn,” but I am giving it a shot. We are having our Mother’s Day Celebration, Saturday, May 8, to thank all the moms for all they do. Coffee, breakfast, Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s. We know how to thank the moms. Come on by for a morning libation and watch or take a class. Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s are way better than a Hallmark card.
Remember that movie with Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, Matthew Broderick? Do you also know who else was in that movie? Hal Lehrman Sensei. Yup. Don’t take my word for it, check IMDB. But that is not the point I’m trying to make.
In ASNJ, we have 20 families in our membership. Yup: husband-wife, parent-child, siblings, cousins, etc. Twenty of them. The smallest are duos and the largest goes to the Morrows with five (They had the option of becoming their own basketball team or doing Aikido). A total of 50 of our members are related. I am in that group with my son, Zachary. The newest family just joined (see More Hellos). The youngest, an adorable 4-year-old girl was a member for a month when her dad, Michael got the Aikido bug and he just got his 5th kyu. Annie and Danny met in high school, got married and ended up teaching at ASNJ. Too many stories to tell but they all make up the story of ASNJ. I think we all should get together and watch the movie “Family Business.” What a great idea for an event – ASNJ Family Appreciation Night. Who wants to organize that? BTW, Lehrman Sensei’s son, Paul, is also a member of Aikido of Park Slope. See? it is a family business.
Adaptive Aikido will be starting on June 7th at 6:00 pm. It is a class for school-age kids with special needs to learn Aikido in an environment tailored to their needs. We are having a practice class next week. We are presently going to cap enrollment to 10 students. There will be more information to come but if you have questions or wish to learn more, please do not hesitate to contact me. A registration form will be sent out soon if you or someone you know is interested in signing up. This also means that there will no longer be a Youth class on Mondays starting in June.
What About Nothing
In Tai Chi Chuan this week, we focused on following. Lightly touching your partner wrist-to-wrist and following their movement with your whole body; paying attention to yourself, your body and trying to move everything at once with the slightest pressure being put on you to become one system with your partner. The only rules are ‘keep a straight back’ and ‘bend your legs.’ Whatever you feel is yours. We did this for 30 minutes. We took a break and I asked for observations. Derrell had the perfect comment. He said it was very frustrating not having a goal, not having an accomplishment. “Exactly!” I yelled, jumping for joy. That was the goal of that class’s lesson.
We often want recognition. When we tell a joke, we need to hear a laugh. When you are at a party and someone tells a great story, you need to share your own, so the people recognize you and give you approval. We want approval, the pat on the back, the ‘attaboy’ moment. I call them Micro Ego-expressions or ME’s (I just made that up. It really works for the letter. After all, I am technically part of the ME Generation. [Ed. Note: I fact-checked it. He is part of that generation and yes, he is that old.).
The second half of the Tai Chi Chuan class was to have the role of nage and uke and to follow the uke’s center until they are uprooted. Place both hands on their forearm and move following their center (you can’t move your feet) until uke has nowhere to go. “Aha!” you think, “I can win!” It’s not that easy. The idea is to uproot your partner without that being the goal. Do this exactly like the first exercise: Give up on your ego and uproot by following. As soon as you try to push, your partner can feel that and neutralize. You need to be just like “nothing.” Empty, no goal, no accomplishment. Keep your ME’s to yourself.
Warriors, come out to Play-ee-yay!!
How many remember that great 1979 movie? The three bottles tapping together by Luther, head of The Rogues gang? That has nothing to do with this part of my letter, but it was a great scene [Ed. Note: A great movie. A classic.] [Younger Ed. Note: I have no idea what they are referencing.] [Ed. Note: I have failed as a parent.]. I like to end class with koshi or aikitosh as many people need work on those techniques. I like to focus on what people need work on, not what they are good at. Same reason, we are working on weapons. Jo, bokken and tanto. I asked all of the ASNJ instructors to include a weapons’ technique in each class. In my class, we did katatori kotegaeshi, then tsuki kotegaeshi, then tanto-tori kotegaeshi. Same technique. Nage does the same exact thing. The only difference is uke’s attack. You should perform the technique exactly the same for each attack. Only your brain makes the tanto (knife) different. Just like the Tai Chi Chuan class. It’s all the same.
I followed the same idea on Saturday: ryotetori shihonage, yokomen shihonage, tanto-tori shihonage, jo-tori shihonage, and finally bokken-tori shihonage. Same technique. It doesn’t matter how you are attacked: you don’t fight. Why should it make a difference if they are holding your wrist or a sword? It’s all the same. I grew up riding the subway in Brooklyn, we are used to people walking around with knives and bats and chains (See “Warriors.” It was practically a documentary.).