August 18, 2022
Let’s welcome back Annie Small who has formally returned from her shoulder surgery. Please also welcome David to our Adult program.
· Iaido Classes are canceled August 26 -28 for Summer camp.
· Lehrman Shihan – Wednesday, September 14, 7:00 pm. Lehrman Shihan teaches the second Wednesday of each month. This is a mandatory class for all ASNJ instructors and an exciting treat for all our students and guests. We welcome visitors from other dojos who would like to attend.
· Fall Seminar at ASNJ – Saturday 29, 10:00am – 4:00 pm. Potluck to follow.
Not golf, hyperlinks. I was told that people enjoyed the links in the Rosetta Stone letter. There were 34 links in total and many of you enjoyed clicking. It is a little addictive. Those underlined blue texts just beckoning you to left click your mouse.
Congratulation to the following people:
5th Kyu – Jose Cruz Alicea, Ulises Erickson, Henry Singleton
4th Kyu – Michael Anderson, Leonard Cusumano, Michal Wilkens
2nd Dan – Olga Sen
3rd Dan – Jack Bogatko
…and to all the ukes that made these tests possible. We just want to let everyone know no uke’s were harmed or injured in the productions of these tests. All kidding aside, sincere congratulations to All.
So good to welcome back Crystal Aldrich for a visit that day; she came to watch Jack's dan test.
I was approached by a student interested in going to New Hampshire for Lehrman Sensei seminar in October. If any else is considering, please send me an email so I can help coordinate carpooling for those interested. I am planning on attending, too. Please note that it is a 5-hour drive, why not take the trip and share the drive with a fellow dojo-mate?
I watched a video of morotetori koshinage where you do not grab uke, only let them grab your wrist and you get them on their toes while drawing your arm over your extended hip (If you know this form of koshi, this would make sense. If don’t, you are not taking my class enough.). It made me think about the idea of opposites such as to get uke to go ‘up’ you need to drop your center. So, I decided to do a class where you make uke go up on their toes while you drop. I mentioned this to Hal, and he said that I am doing a class on Throwing Up, hence the title. And that is what we did (technique, not regurgitant).
It is always interesting to watch students try to grasp the idea of duality or opposites coexisting. Why does this work? The answer is it doesn’t, but you do (see last week’s letter?). What you learn about your relationship with uke what makes the technique work. Think of it like a reverse psychology when you want your three-year-old to do something. If you want your kid to eat their broccoli, tell them they are not allowed to. This is almost like that except that you are lowering yourself to ‘create emptiness’ above you that draws your partner into a vacuum, the same vacuum in your kids’ empty stomach when they won’t eat broccoli.
Someone donated a box lightly used gis. She called me from the laundromat where she washed and dried them to see if the donation was welcome. If any needs another gi, please feel free to take one. I think they are 3’s and 4’s but not sure as the label is gone. They are in a blue plastic box behind the desk. First come, first serve. Better in use than in a landfill and we are grateful to be able to offer them.
More Throwing Up
At this point I am feeling a little bulimic (Have I ever told you about Hal’s and my invention – the Bulim-a-Guard? Too long for a letter. Ask me when we are at the mini bar.). We do not throw our opponent often in Tai Chi Chuan, we practice Push Hands and slam our partner into a brick wall. (Yes, I could have called this section Pushing Up but then I could not bring up our invention.). Every Tai Chi Chuan school has at least one brick wall where we practice Push Hands. You think Tai Chi Chuan is only for old people in a park? Ask them about Push Hands. Make sure there are no brick walls in the park first.
When you ‘push’ your partner in Tai Chi Chuan, you need them to be weightless or air borne. You do this by dropping your weight which causes them to go up. If you get your center dropped, they are in the air. It is much easier to move that way. In Tai Chi Chuan, the drop, as in Aikido, is in the foot but we also focused that by dropping our elbow (like kokidosa).
So, if you want to understand, learn to just drop it. In Tai Chi Chuan, we do not Throw Up, we Push Up. We don’t need a Bulim-a-Guard, just a brick wall. Brick walls build character.
Lehrman Sensei’s Thoughts
In a discussion Jay and I were having about Aikido and Tai Chi it led to the following thoughts.
Aikido, coming out of Japan, has something that Chinese martial arts don't have.... Tatami. That has two major effects on practice: Ukemi and Sawari Waza. there is very little emphasis on falling in Chinese arts. They are practicing on wood or stone floors.
That led to some thoughts about the joy of practicing Aikido. We Aikido practitioners know how much we are addicted to the practice. Sometimes it is hard to even understand why, but we know it is true.
Coming out of a long history of Japanese culture, O'Sensei refined the nature of practice in a special way. There are no competitions, so no winners or losers. So, taking the ukemi is not a defeat! Only between being Nage and Uke can we understand the technique and so much of the joy, or should I say fun, is in experiencing the exhilaration of a beautifully executed technique as the Uke. Sometimes a well-executed technique feels to Nage as if they did nothing and we look to being Uke to check it out, to answer the question.... Really? Experiencing the power of Aikido as Uke is a big part of the payoff. We can thank Tatami and O'Sensei!
Because we can practice full out and throw our skilled Ukes with abandon (almost), Uke and Nage have a completed experience of the power of being centered and in harmony. And in Aikido we practice without any destructive intentions or the thoughts that are naturally part of regular "fighting" martial arts, functioning between the desire to win or, in real use, thinking about harming the other person, even when we are "just practicing".
Power without destruction! Definitely addictive!
Sensei, Aikido Schools of NJ
“When you bow deeply to the universe, it bows back.”
-- Moihei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido