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  • Writer's pictureSensei Jay

My First Letter Back from Quarantine

June 7, 2020

About two thousand years ago an old Chinese sage, you know him as Confucius, said – “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” (I am in a quoting mood tonight). I am sure everyone has heard a variation of that. After driving seven hours back from Maine on Thursday, leading several meetings on Friday to restart my construction company, working with Sensei Lehrman on our real-estate company, meeting with the teachers of the dojo, and working on the new protocols to open up the dojo, I may not be working a day in my life but I am tired. As my mother used to say, it is a good tired. “Tired… like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.” - Gandalf

I met with our instructors Saturday and it was great. It reminded me of why I love our dojo. We laughed and told stories and did a lot of work. From our discussions, I think I have 90% of the required social distancing guidelines covered and a new schedule that allows for cleaning the dojo between classes. I want you to know I am taking everything that we can conceive of into account for your health and safety. I may actually be going a little overboard but until the CDC and the governor determine social distancing is no longer required, I hope you take my overzealous and overprotective nature at this juncture as a good thing.

I am going to be blunt: classes, for the immediate future, will be different but what I realized, it’s in a good way. This is a time that we can really focus on basics without the burden of “needing to throw uke”. This is when we will focus on stances, balance, posture, movement, relaxing; all the things that allow your aikido to work. As we all improve these skills, our throws will become a forgone conclusion. So, these next few months, think of this new schedule and structure as a unique opportunity to garner the skills that will make you a better aikidoka for the long term, not as a representation of what you can’t do. I think this is a unique opportunity.

With all that taken into consideration, I am making the Iaido classes available for free to any member of the dojo for the duration of our “Covid” schedule. Anyone who wishes to explore this ancient art, add this to your skills or just curious, bring a bokken and try it out. The system is a great way to augment what you do on the mat.

Also, I will be teaching a basic yet advanced Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) class on Thursday. There is no experience required. We will start learning the TCC form, learn the rules that TCC is rooted in, understand the health benefits and also look at the fighting applications in the TCC form. Again, this is open, at no charge to any ASNJ member or family member of a student of ASNJ during the “Covid” schedule (this class will always be included in dojo membership). If the weather permits, we will do this class outside for an unlimited number of people. If there is bad weather, we will need to move inside, and we will have to limit the number to 15 people.

Expect to see regular updates, new schedules, new protocols and just fun emails from me as we get closer to our reopening. A number of our members are in a position to help guide me as to what the State is planning.

As always, if you have any concerns or questions, do not hesitate to contact me. And to repeat, if anyone is having financial issues due to Covid, please speak to me and I will, on a case by case basis, offer scholarships in accordance with your individual needs. It is important to me, in troubled times, to make Aikido and our community available to all of you, my family. We are a community and I can only see this, in the long run, making us stronger. You all know the famous quote by Nietzsche “What does not kill me makes me stronger.” (obviously I have to end on a quote).

--Sensei Jay Tall

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