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  • Writer's pictureSensei Jay

It’s Not Easy Being Green?

March 13, 2021


I want to welcome James and Kindle to our adult program and, a very funny young man to our youth program, to our growing community. Also, I want to welcome Heidi back, she has rejoined from an extended absence. She is a firecracker on the mat and was missed. Please say hi.

What’s Happenin’

Saturday, March 27, 2:15 pm. Kyu tests. Please contact Danny, Derrell, or Frank to discuss if you want to test. Potluck social distanced party to follow tests.

Saturday April 5th, 11:30 - Kid’s test.

The (Real) Life of a Sensei – Part2

This was just supposed to be a cute, funny paragraph last week, but it got real at Thursday’s Tai Chi Chuan class. We finished our break (you need a break in TCC class, or your legs will explode. You develop extraordinarily strong legs.) and were about to have our discussion on the concept of “listening” in Push Hands when we heard (not kidding) someone trying to get out of the women’s dressing room. It was Olga. The 20-year doorknob had given up its tireless duty of providing an option of an open or a closed door. To make it simple, Olga was locked in the dressing room.

Zachary got a screwdriver from my office (not the vodka kind, I have real tools) and I took apart the lock. The latch shaft was broken and the spring was keeping it locked. I had many reactions. My Karate past thought “Front kick!” - problem solved. My occupation as a general contractor noticed the door was a 32” by 6’-6” and it would take a week or so to order one that size. My dojo-cho brain asked could we operate without a lock on the women’s dressing room for a few days – NO. My Jewish heritage pondered if maybe a nosh would make Olga feel better. My Sensei side was thinking if I could harmonize with the spring. My TCC teacher thoughts were to show everyone how to relax now, and my handyman saw how the $2 Harbor Freight pliers now had an overbite and that is why they are $2. All this while working on the lock. I got the last piece of the lock out, Olga was free and my Boy Scout (I was only a Cub Scout, but I am using poetic license for the sake of a good story), my Boy Scout side showed when Zachary called from my office “Did you know you have a spare door lock in your office?” Yes, I did. Door fixed, back to listening.


Connie had her first yoga class this past week and my wife took it. She had a great time and will become a regular (except for this week when we will be up in Maine. I do not care how flexible you are, she cannot stretch from Maine to NJ). Come on by and try out the class. It has Rachel’s seal of approval (just like me).

Erin Go Bragh

We did it, the first ever ASNJ annual St. Patrick’s Day class. I wracked my brain for an Aikido themed class that would represent the holiday. It was a tough one. Sensei Lehrman said “Step Dancing.” I was not sure how to incorporate that into hamni. Zachary said “green means new, do techniques no one has ever seen before.” Suuuuuuure. I keep a list of secret techniques in my hakama back pocket. What is that you say? Hakamas do not have pockets!! There goes that idea (but let’s keep open the hakama pockets thing. Who would not love that)? I was out to dinner with Rachel (Italian food) and it hit me. Stop. There is no connection between Ireland and Japan. Except maybe a kilt and a hakama? Kilts are Scottish (according to Google). As I was saying, there is no connection between Ireland and Japan. My old philosophy (about 30 seconds old) when in doubt, do Randori. I am sure a lot of you think the same thing. We will have an hour of Juwaza and Randori. It was obvious. Make everyone sweat a lot so they can drink more beer after class. That is the connection. All it took was a good meal of sausage and peppers.

The mat was a sea of green. At least it looked that way with everyone running around Juwaza’ing wearing green. I wore a t-shirt and my camo hakama. A camo hakama you say? No one has a camo hakama! That is like having a hakama with pockets, they do not exist. Well, very few people have a son who loves to sew. My son Zachary, among his many talents, is a very skilled seamstress (is that a gender specific word? Can I ask that now?) and has produced for me my very own custom camo hakama, with, wait for it, POCKETS. Now you know my reason for St Patrick’s class. I have a reason to wear my camo hakama and not look completely crazy (if you can see it, I mean it is camo after all).

Tai Chi Chuan

There will be no TCC class this week, I gave the slot to our first annual Woman’s international Day Celebrations Class or WIDCC (I am on a streak with first annual events this month) but I did want to touch on something from a week ago.

I took the practice of following and listening in Push Hands and explored the idea with Sankyo. Can we, while holding on to uke’s forearm (not hand, as we do not want pain to be a factor) have the lock? We moved the wrist until we felt the elbow lock, then added the shoulder, then the spine, then the center, then the foot. At this point, your connection to uke was complete, they were on their toes and could not move. The connection felt effortless, uke was not in pain; they could not hit you as their joints were all lined up and locked. This was done by “listening.”

Some were able to get to the shoulder, some to the spine, occasionally some got to the foot. It takes practice, it’s not something you get suddenly or instantly. With practice you get better, but it was an interesting integration of the two arts (as it was introduced to me in the lineage of Lou Kleinsmith). How to relax and connect, in my practice, is the foundation of Aikido/TCC model. It was a great class.

--Sensei Jay

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”

- James Joyce (Famous Irish Author)

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