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  • Writer's pictureSensei Jay


June 7, 2021

More Hellos

Michael from Elizabeth is joining as well as Paul and a young man joined our Kid’s program. This Tuesday after class, I got a call from Frank who joyfully told me he had 16 kids on the mat for the Children program that evening. I showed up Thursday and saw 12. It is nice to have a full mat again. I am used to seeing 20 people on the mat for my class. It is wonderful to see those number in a Kid’s class. The world is opening up.

To Do’s

žAdaptive Aikido class for kids with special needs starts on Monday, June 7. If any parents wish to enroll their child, let me know. The form is available on our website on the Adaptive Aikido page.

žFamily Fun Day – Saturday, June 19. Bring a friend or family member and show them what you got. We are encouraging all our parents to get on the mat and take a roll (Metaphorically. You don’t have to fall down, you hope) with your kids. I heard they will be breaking out the BBQ for the event.

žTeen Movie NightSaturday July 17. We planned this for last year. I am turning over the dojo to the teens (with chaperones) to hang out and watch a movie. The dojo will supply the pizza. A little birdie told me they are going to watch Jumanji 2.

žKyu Tests - Saturday August 21 – Come spin the Wheel of Ukemi Class. We will be having Kyu Tests followed by our Summer BBQ / Potluck party.

Buy a T Shirt

I still have a few T-shirts. All of you new members, get one and blend in with everyone else. Be the hit at your job. Not only are they cool, but they are also funny. And only $20.

New Protocols

June 1 has come and gone, and we are now wearing hakamas again. I must admit, I did not miss mine. Many people love them. I can somehow find a way to trip on mine in the most unusual ways. I mean I do every class. It is not long; I am just very talented. My own wardrobe malfunctions aside, it really looks great to see a sea of skirts again. The new schedule is underway, and masks are now optional. I just bought another 4 boxes (usually 2 months’ worth) and will always have a supply at the front desk for kids and adults who want to wear a mask. This past Sunday we did group techniques, and one masked student was uncomfortable. The entire group put on masks for his well-being. I am beyond proud of my students that they are put our community first even as restrictions ease.


Continuing with the waist: We worked on our focus and our awareness of our waist. A lot of great progress as more and more students noticed they did not ‘need’ to think about where their arms go when they focus on their waist; it just happens. Almost like someone designed the form we are doing around some sort of principles factor in how the body naturally works or something. Crazy, I know.

Here is the part of teaching I love the best: The questions that seem to contradict everything I have been teaching. I truly love those moments; it means the class is thinking and exploring. Ben asked, “If the arms don’t matter, only the waist, why are you teaching us a specific form for our arms. Is that just to keep us busy?” Yes and no. There is a very specific shape of the arms in both Tai Chi Chuan and Aikido. It is crucial to learn that. There are tons of information to be gotten out of shaping your arm like a bokken or jo. You need to learn and perfect that. Not because you need the shape, you need the information the shape is there to teach for your arms to work and connect to your body. In Aikido, the shape is to teach you about extending while relaxing. Once you get the lesson, you don’t need to think about the shape. And it keeps you busy.

It is like physics, you learn a formula, such as F=MA (I picked that as it is easy to type, short and no exponents. Not sure how to type them) Force = Mass times Acceleration. Simple. What does it mean? It teaches you the concept of Force. What it is, how it is calculated, etc. Olga noted (my favorite mathematician and the only one I know) that there are other formulas for Force. Once you understand Force, you don’t need the formula, you understand the concept. Same thing with your arms. Understand the concept of extension and how the body is connected. Aikido and Tai Chi Chuan form and technique are not the end product, they are tools to learn more about you. You are the end product.

BTW, I am sitting up in Maine while typing this and watched a hummingbird crash into the window next to the feeder, hung there for a second looking dazed and then flitted away. They are amazing and almost unbelievable how they can hover in the air. Also, apparently, they have very tiny brains [Ed. Note: Despite their brains being no larger than a fingertip, a hummingbird's brain makes up a whopping 4.2 percent of its weight; proportionally, that's the largest of any bird. Not so bird-brained after all.]

Exercise, It Is Good for You

I have a pet peeve I am occasionally presented with. Students come to me with the concept “practice very physically until complete muscular exhaustion so they can learn to relax their body.” Very Yin/Yang (the white dot in the center of the black and vice versa). I am not completely devaluing this theory (OK, I sorta am) but in this ideology, it is not a great path up the mountain. I lifted weights in college from which I gained decent biceps (I already had big legs from gymnastics and Tae Kwon Do). In that modality, we would lift to exhaustion to lift more. You would go to your limit to expand it. And look good in a Speedo (Who invented these things?) [Ed. Note: Speedos were created by Alexander John MacRae, a sports entrepreneur and clothing manufacturer, in 1914 but didn’t gain in notoriety until 1928 – the Roarin’ 20s. But the Editor digresses.] When the ultimate goal is to relax, and you go to the limit in class, you are expanding that limit each time. The goal of relaxing gets further and further away until you will need to run a marathon before class to achieve that goal of exhaustion and relaxing. May I make a humble suggestion? If you want to learn to relax, work on the forgotten muscle – your brain and take up meditation. You may not have a Speedo body, but you also probably won’t (and shouldn’t) care. They are chaffing anyway.

--Sensei Jay

“Love is always open arms.”

--Leo Buscaglia

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