Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ah Saturday morning at the New York Aikikai

The weekends here are special becuase I get to sleep in until 8:00 instead of 6:00! Might not sound like much but when you think that I get to sleep in two more hours than usual, it's really nice! So I'm up at 8, I'm usually the first one, I mop the mats and start my daily laundry regiment of folding towels and hanging gis. Toshi usually stumbles down around 9:00 or so and he's gotten in the habbit of sending me down the street for coffee and breakfast for the two of us, he pays. Kids class starts at 9:30 and the adult classes don't start until 11:00 so I've got more time than usual to wake up. Yamada Sensei got back from Argentina yesterday so hopefully he be teaching both of his classes today!

The weather is starting to get cold...I'm sooo scared! I'm from the South, this kind of thing doesn't happen! The 6:00am classes are sooo cold, maybe around 30 degrees and all we have is a little radiator in the back of the room that doesn't help too much. The mats are extremely hard and my joints get so stiff. This should be interesting! I start to warm up and move normally about 20 minutes into class but getting to that point is a slow process.

We're already starting to prepare for the Christmas Seminar which from what I understand is rather legendary. Maybe I should clarify, the parties afterwords are legendary! Sugano Sensei is scheduled to teach during the seminar! That will be the first time that he's been on the mat since I've been here. He'll drop by every week or so just to take a look but he hasn't taught yet. Along with the classes and the party comes testing. Everyone is starting to get ready for tests again and this time there are Dan tests (blackbeslt testing). I was asked by a friend if I was going to test and I don't think that's gonna happen. I tested for 3rd kyu about a week before I came up here so I definitely don't have the hours unless Yamada Sensei just springs it on me. I honestly don't think i'm up for it anyway.

A good friend of mine asked me if I've adopted the NY Aikikai attitude yet. Well yes it's starting. I'm kinda scared honestly. I really don't want to become one of the unforgivingly rough people like the other deshi but she was right, I have to train harder to get that same feeling, those endorphines. Some people that I used to train with when I first got here don't really train with me anymore cause i'm...too fast paced...a bit more rough...i don't really know. HUGE difference in ukemi too, of course. Like I've been saying it's really just for self-preservation, I have to learn how to protect myself from some of the people here. ooo that's another thing, most of the people that down-right scared me when I got here are not too terrifying anymore, I can usually hang with them. People that took real lazy ukemi for me when I first got here now have to take breakfalls. So I'm starting to see it.

And now the Holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving is coming up and I'll be taking about a week off to see family and friends. I'll be getting back to Atlanta on Monday the 21st and I'll train there for Richard's class on Monday night and I'll catch Kennedy Sensei's classes on Tuesday, I'm so excited, we're all going to have to go out for pizza and beer afterwords. I'll head up to my Grandparent's farm on Wednesday for Turkey Day and I'll try and head back down to ATL for Eric's class on Friday night then it's back to NYC on Saturday night to get back into the swing of Deshi life. Can't wait to see everyone soon and train!! Don't worry Gina, I'll make it down there at some point, I've got lots of neat trick to show you!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Dojo Moms and Deshi Connections


Last week was the first scheduled kyu (white belt ranks) tests since I've been at New York Aikikai. As most people who practice aikido know the weeks leading up to a test are full of extracurricular practice and who better to practice with than the people who never leave the dojo, the deshi. As if we weren't on the mat for five to six hours a day to begin with a never ending line of people asked to practice before, inbetween, and after classes. To my curiocity I was pretty much one of the only deshi that the members asked for help. After the first week of tutoring I started to notice the benefits.

Linna Lee, a mother of two who was preparing for her third kyu test just so happens to own a bakery in China Town...hmmmmm. She has since been one of my main sources of food not to mention the occational bag of pasta, pastries, candy, and Gatorade.

Jorien who was preparing for her fourh kyu test just so happens to manage a bar in mid-town Manhattan with a nearly unlimited supply of free drink cards and happens to be damn good at massage as well.

And Chris who was also getting ready for his fourth kyu test owns a bar/coffee shop in Brooklyn. I've spent many a weekend night in there without spending a dime...possibly one of the most important things to a NY Akikai deshi :)

Like I've said before, this isn't exactly glamorous but I'm definitely seeing the perks.


The tests themselves went quite well. Everyone passed, the highest rank tested for was second kyu (they go up to first and then black belt), and Sugano Sensei and Mike Abrams were the testing officials. From what I've heard of previous tests Sugano Sensei is quite strick about the techniques and the fact that no one failed made me happy enough. Most of you know that there is usually a shortage of ukes (attackers) for the tests so Sugano Sensei would occationally call for an extra uke for a test. As deshi it is our job to jump up to the occation...an occation for which only Sanji and I were present. I was uke for Chris's fourth kyu test first which was directly followed by Linna's third kyu test which was directly followed by the second kyu test that included a randori. Needless to say I was a little worn out but I'm getting used to the feeling.

Speaking of which today is tuesday meaning that I have six classes today. Noriko taught the morning class, I was being used for demonstration for irimi-nage breakfalls before 7am this morning, that's one hell of a way to wake up. Noon class I got a beginner which will help me out later, and Harvey's randori class was a workout as always, one hour of non-stop movement, good stuff. I'm starting to notice major changes in my movement in randori as well as my ukemi so I think this whole deshi thing just might work. 4:15 class is Yamada Sensei, 5:30 will be Harvey Konigsburg again, and Luis at 6:45. I need to go eat alot of food to get ready for this so I'll get back soon.

Judy, hope you're happy :)