Little House In Ise


More Sweat — Less Foam
August 11, 2008, 12:31
Filed under: Aikido, Expat | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A mob of world-class martial artists is generally what it takes to make me to speak in public. The Aikikai Honbu Dojo morning class is exactly that and they easily forced me to make an off-the-cuff speech. As a result, a nice French(ish) restaurant in the heart of Shinjuku was the scene of multiple crimes against the Japanese language. Luckily for all present, there was no karaoke involved.

The party was nice and the food quite good. Drinking and chatting with the various Aikido celebrities who frequent ichban geiko (一番稽古 : practice number one) was cool and revealing. Among the revelations was that two of the pretty young women of morning class are the daughters of a seventh dan shihan, morning class regular. I had wondered if they were sisters but it hadn’t occurred to me that they were more than figurative members of a powerful Aikido lineage. Aside from being a bad-ass (Nehru jacket, goatee and all), that shihan is a very proud father and, just recently, a grandfather. Oddly enough, these are not the sort of insights one picks up when being twisted and thrashed into a sweaty pulp.

I poured many drinks that evening. More than merely mimicking a Japanese custom, it also served the purpose of being a friendly conversation starter and ice breaker. Since working crowds is not really a great skill of mine, I only made it halfway around the room. However, I did pour for Doshu and chatted with him briefly. It was small talk but was nice to feel that he was making an effort as well. It didn’t occur to me until later that I probably should have asked him for an interview. Ah well… next time!

Near the end, Doshu addressed the crowd offering thanks to individuals and groups for acts of personal and organizational kindness over the last year and then he got to the good stuff — Aikido talk. OK, it was a party and he had a few drinks in him but he did offer one bit of martial wisdom: When on the mat, train hard and sweat, moving your mouth only makes foam. So, in a nutshell, he said, “More sweat — less foam”.

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