Little House In Ise

Honbu in the Morning
February 8, 2008, 13:43
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back in Seattle, at the PSA, there was a group of older yudansha who used to come for the Friday open mat and pound the hell out of each other. They were beyond me in more than just years. These guys really knew how to move. It was through watching, talking and working with them that I really got my first glimmerings about what “being relaxed” and “natural movement” meant in an Aikido context. I’d mouthed the words for years before but they were the people who I credit with my, admittedly limited, ability to relax now. However, it wasn’t just their technical excellence that I enjoyed. Their camaraderie and the pleasure of doing Aikido with them was enough to make me persist out to the ragged edge even during the roughest workouts. Most of them train at Aikido Willapa Bay so I haven’t seen them in a while.

Here in Tokyo, at Honbu, the morning class students are mostly older men. They start gathering on the mat about 6am. These fellows are about the same age as the guys from my Friday afternoon practices. I see a similar familiarity that is encouraging. I’m by no means an insider and don’t expect to become one but the atmosphere is enough of a comfort. This morning there were two older fellows stretching near me. I heard one tell the other “No, no, not like that! Your toes have to touch the ground.” The response was “Not today, that would kill me… You try it.” Friendly snarkiness of that sort is not what I had expected at 6am at Honbu.  For some perspective, the second fellow had wiped me all over one corner of the mat and part of the tokonoma the day before.

The technical focus today was morote tori (諸手取り). We did two variations of irimi nage (one was the swirly, ki-no-nagare, wrap uke’s arm about their own neck), ikyo, nikyo, kotegaeshi, shihonage and katagatame (take uke down as though for a kaiten nage, instead of throwing, insert hand that would otherwise be on uke’s neck into armpit, extend and lower your weight to the mat).

All in all, I have been pleasantly surprised by the breadth of waza demonstrated during morning class. Doshu, apparently, has a reputation for showing only kihon-waza but there have been other technical nuggets as well.


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