October 23, 2020
Well, we did it. We opened with full-contact classes and are retaping the mat in the practice boxes. Classes seem to be going well. Thanks, in part, to the Doug-A-Lator 5000, patent pending, and Governor Murphy of the State of NJ (Wasn’t Doug Murphy, if I combine the names, a character on Scrubs? Probably a bad reference if you know the character). I added an official Doug-A-Lator trademark on the device while we wait for the patent.
Thanks to everyone who has helped in this transition and made this possible safely and successfully.
I want to welcome Tara who joined this week. I was the teacher at her first class and am still chuckling over when I threw Zachary, my son, in Aikitosh. I could see, even with her mask in place, her mouth gaping as his feet flew out and he landed five feet away. Zachary, always the trooper, got up and said, “Can you please not do that again!”
When I tried on my costume, my wife was still laughing the following morning. I am ready for Saturday, Oct 31st Halloween class. Please come to class wearing a costume. I will not show off my costume until I teach the 2:15 adult class. If you want to be like my wife, Rachel, come to class so you, too, can wake up the next morning laughing at me. At least I know she still loves me.
Tests and Party
Kids’ tests are scheduled for December 5th. December 12th we will hold Kyu tests for everyone else. I expect many of you to test. You know who you are. If you are concerned, don’t worry, tests will be conducted with masks on. Party to follow the kyu test on December 12th.
How Many Nunchucks
Many of you know, I run a few businesses when I am not sensei’ing. You know, to pay the bills and keep my wife in the lifestyle she expects [Ed Note: Let’s not forget, wife works, too, to keep Sensei in the lifestyle he expects].
Recently I was asked to join a conference call with a friend who is a business coach and his client, a gentleman in England, who is a Nunchuck Sensei. The Nunchuck Sensei wanted to start selling nunchuck lessons via YouTube videos. How does one promote that? That is a challenge. I laid down on my office couch (this was a tough one and I wanted to be prepared) and spelled out a business plan for him including marketing, partnering with martial arts schools, pricing, subscriptions, etc. – the whole shebang came flowing from my horizontal brain. I was channeling Lee Iacocca (Too old a reference? I liked his book and his cars). After the call it dawned on me: you can get a black belt in nunchucks! I thought you learned only them as a kid watching Bruce Lee movies!? Or maybe that was just me. Nevertheless, I now have a Nunchuck Sensei friend in England. Who would have thought?
Tai Chi Chuan Class Change
I have to cut down the philosophy portion of the TCC class a little as I am going to introduce Push-Hands to the class this week (It’s a 90-minute class and I usually run over). Since we can touch, let’s begin sticky hands (sounds wrong – no?). Push-Hands, or sticky hands, is the foundation of harmonizing and connecting in TCC that is so critical (in my humble opinion) to Aikido and the application of TCC. If you are interested, come to class. Let’s see how it goes.
Tao Te Ching
In class, we discussed Chapter 5 in the Tao Te Ching. You can still read it at this great website.
Class was great: Zachary even said it was one of my best as he thought I was the most honest about my own exploration. I continued on the idea that opposites need each other to exist. The Sage sees them as two parts of the same thing. That we give them values only to express our massive egos (this aimed at no one in particular, definitely not me!) as if one being is better than the other -- as outlined in the Chapter of in last week’s discussion.
Taking it further, Lao Tzu talked about bellows and speaking (I think you know where this is going – does the concept of a windbag come up for you?). A bellow works because it is empty. That is what makes it useful. I instantly think of Aikido and how, especially Randori, I throw an uke by emptying a spot. That is why an uke falls. If you fall into an occupied (especially if by nage) spot, that is conflict. So, by moving and turning, you cause a vacuum and then the uke can fill that void. That, for me, is the moment when the throw is effortless and I don’t experience it as a throw, just movement.
The chapter finishes about “talking too much” meaning you make no sense. Since I get complaints that my letters are too long; I am going to skip over that part of the chapter, you know, cut my letter short. I think I went on long enough on this letter. I mean I never go on. Nope. Concise and to the point. My letters are like the sniper rifles of dialogue. Right on target and never anything but what is needed. Yup. Those are my letters. Lao Tzu would be proud.
See you on the mat (in a costume),