Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Nikkyo from Hell

The Deshi here at the New York Aikikai do things a little differently that what I'm used to. Shihonage and most notably nikkyo are done in a manner that give no mercy! Nikkyo is performed not only by "bowing" as Kennedy Sensei puts it but also by forcing the forearm down so that the elbow is pointing towards the ground. I was obviously "resisting" the technique when working with Gavin, a Deshi. I was not necessarily trying to keep my forearm up but I wasn't used to the force applied. My elbow separated with a disgustingly wet pop which was heard by several of the groups around us, and produced and equally horrid noise when Gavin let go and my elbow popped back into place. That one hurt more than anything I have yet experienced. I left the mat and got an ice pack and 800mg of advil to help the swelling. This happened during Sensei's class so I was back on the mat before he switched to a different technique, joy, more nikkyo. The last few days have been rather tender but if anything I've learned a new way to get away from nikkyo!

I must say that my ukemi has changed 110% since I've been here out of the need for self preservation!

My new Fixie!!

My feet have been so torn up from spending five to six hours of each day on the mat that walking around the city on the weekends is a painful event. So I started doing a little research on cheap bicycles that could help me get around town. New York is practically as flat as Kansas so there is no real reason for multiple gears. I found this little road bike on craigslist and bought it last weekend! I may not have a whole lot of time to ride it but I will enjoy what little time I get. I just need to get used to the crazy streets of New York and watch out for the cabbies, wish me luck!!

Dinner with Sensei

Once a week Sensei and Noriko treat the Deshi to dinner (when Sensei is in town) in Sensei's office. Noriko prepared a HUGE dinner and Sensei supplied endless amounts of excellent wine and beer. Sensei sent me out to pick up a few six-packs of beer and coke before dinner, he also sent me out for what I thought was pinot grigio but apparently I misunderstood with his rather thick accent...apparently pellegrino sounds surprisingly like pinot grigio in a japanese accent...doh. I was laughed at. Alot :) Anyway the dinner was fantastic and our guests of honor were Harvey Konigsburg and his wife. After dinner and much wine, good music and dancing upon Sensei's request Sanji and I (the newest Deshi) were put to the task of cleaning up and dubbed "washi dishis" in place of uchi deshis...cute.

All in all it's a fantastic experience to have dinner with Yamada Sensei, Harvey, the other Deshi and a few of the members that make up the community of this dojo.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Wearing Origami

Over the last few weeks I've been unofficially appointed the official hakama folder. Now there are a few odd rules to this possition, the most important being that I should only offer to fold the hakama of a sixth dan instructor or higher...odd. If an instructor of a lower rank is in need and asks me to fold their hakama I am supposed to give them an uninterested look and do it slowly (kidding). The head Deshi are quite strict about who I can offer this service to, I find that a little odd if not rather pretentious. But I'm just a new Deshi and must obey the set rules...

Anyway, this gives me the opportunity to fold the hakamas of a large list of impressive people:) At least 2 times a week I get to fold Steve Pimsler's hakama, then there is Donovan Waite, Mike Abrams, and Harvey Konigsburg. Jane Ozeki, Rob Workoff, and every now and again if I'm quick enough I'll get a hold of Yamada Sensei's hakama. Yamada Sensei is the ONLY instructor that the other Deshi will raise a finger for...again seems a bit pretentious but what'er ya gonna do.

Learning how to fold these things is quite a trick and for some instructors anything short of perfection is unacceptable. I'm sure most everyone knows what a hakama is and most everyone knows that they are folded when they are not being used but I'm not sure that everyone knows exacty how to fold them...only the Japanese could come up with this stuff! It's really quite intricate, especially the knot at the end, and different senseis prefer different methods of folding and tying them. Yamada Sensei's is by far the best to fold partly because it's fairly new and also becuase anyone who's ever touched it aside from him takes an immense amount of care with it so that the numerous pleats and folds are perfectly preserved. It practically folds itself. Steve Pimsler on the other hand is probably the worst. Who knows how old his hakama is but I can say with almost certainty that it's older than me! And there are virtually no folds in it whatsoever. Steve's hakama takes a while but I've got it down to a science. My slighty anal nature happens to lend itself quite nicely to this particular duty. It's nice to be known by some of the instructors as the deshi that will do a nice job folding their hakama.

Well it's off to make some dinner and crash for what little sleep I can get. Look for my next installment of "Dojo Moms" and mor info on other deshi.

Sorry it's been so long between blogs but I've been a bit busy :D