October 18, 2020
Wow, I can’t believe it. We are ramping up for full contact. No longer can you say, “I’ve been doing Aikido for so long, I remember the days when we actually grabbed wrists in class.” As of the Governor’s Oct 12th Executive Order, full contact is now allowed. With the installation of the new fans/filters in the dojo (that’s the Doug-A-Lator 5000, patent pending), the air is even cleaner, so I feel much more comfortable taking this step. If you are not ready for full contact, almost half the classes will continue as non-contact.
Watch for the new schedule with additional classes and the new protocols shortly. The new schedule will begin Saturday, October 24th. We are opening the dressing rooms to allow two people at a time. At this time, we will not allow visitors from other dojos to keep the numbers down and safety at the forefront.
Yes, it is that time of year again. We will continue the tradition for ASNJ’s Halloween celebration on Saturday, Oct 31st all day: come to class wearing a costume. I will host the Halloween class for the adults’ time slot. Scary music, candy, costumes and masks, Halloween lighting, and Aikido. The perfect combination. Think of your “scariest throw,” the one that keeps you up at night with fear of its – yes -- execution. Everyone will get a turn leading the class with their most frightening technique. I will be your uke and we will practice your technique knowing my large bottle of Advil is ready for the following morning. My wife will again remind after the Halloween class while I moan and groan from being thrown in multiple koshi’s and aikitosh’s, what an idiot I am. [Ed.Note: She will.]
Tests and Event
Get on the mat and get your A-game back: We will, as long as nothing changes, have testing. December 5th will be the kids’ program. December 12th will hold Kyu tests for everyone else. If you were scheduled to test in the cancelled March date, you have two months to prepare. We will have test prep classes on Saturdays. If you want to test again, speak to Derrell, Frank, Danny, or me.
I have been told that my letters are too long. (My wife often tells me I go on too long, but we have been married for more than a quarter of a century.) She suggested I create separate sections with headings so people can read what they want. I was mortified: You mean someone would not want to read every word of my letter? Did I mention how long we have been married? That did not end well for me. I should let her teach my next class.
Which reminds me: T-Shirts. We ordered a lot of t-shirts and much to my amazement, they are selling quickly. We have sizes Medium to XX Large. I will not make “You will fall for us, Guaranteed” again. When these sell out, I will be forced to come up with a new funny tag line. If you want one, let us know. If you are not a member of ASNJ, send us an email and you can purchase one, we will mail it and only add the postage to the price.
You asked for it. I have posted the entire TCC form as requested. Many of you asked for a version shot from behind so it seems like we are doing it in class. I will try to get to that this week. I also posted Koichi Tohei’s Jo Kata that Sensei Lehrman is teaching on Wednesday evenings to help you review.
A little amazing fact: when you watch the Koichi Tohei movie (yes, the video was done on film -- old school) they play it at half speed. He does it so fast, you would not be able to keep up. He is my Aikido idol. I have an Aiki-crush on him (I watched “Pitch Perfect” one too many times. This is an opportunity for you parents to have to ask your kids the pop-culture reference.)
Tao Te Ching
We have been discussing the Tao Te Ching. Many of you have mentioned having difficulty understanding the translations. I found this website, that has five different versions. You may find one better for you than another. I like Ron Hogan’s style. He sounds like a kinder soul from Brooklyn.
Philosophy Class Discussion
Time for my favorite part of the letter. (Just ask my family. I usually fill our dinner discussions with this stuff. They do not look forward to dinner that night. Sorry Family!). We reviewed the second chapter of Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching (see link in letter’s previous section!!!!).
Chapter 2 introduces the concept of duality; that in order for something to exist, its opposite must also exist. What would a one-sided coin look like (I sound like a Zen Koan, “What is the sound of a one-sided coin toss?”) In order to see beauty, you need to see ugly to know beauty exists. Things only exist with an opposite.
It goes on to discuss what the Sage does with this? Wu Wei – he does nothing. We let go of the judgment of the opposites, since aren’t they really same thing? If one needs the other, then how can one be better than the other? And if they are two parts of the same, how could wanting one more than the other make sense since you need both to exist?
When you flip a coin, there is a 50-50 chance to get one or the other of the same thing. But the coin is still the coin, we decide if heads is better than tails. The Sage sees the whole coin, not just one side. Unlike my new ASNJ T-Shirt where both sides are great. Who’s the Sage now?