Archive for March 19th, 2010


Dojo Mojo

on March 19, 2010 in Misc 10 Comments »

aikido_founder[1]

REWRITTEN!

THIS TURNED OUT TO BE THE MOST WRONG-HEADED ENTRY I EVER PUT INTO MY BLOG!

AND THAT’S BECAUSE THE AIKIDO SCHOOL I WENT TO, NIPPON-KAN OF DENVER, TURNED OUT TO BE A DISASTER!

On March 19 2010 I wrote in this entry about my first few classes of Aikido.  That was fine.   But here’s the paragraph I wrote that would, by the end of that month, prove to be BULLSHIT:

Oh well. At least I’m in an excellent dojo where the instructors seem determined that none of us novices get banged up. The dojo is Nippon Kan, which was founded by Gaku Homma Sensei, a student of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. Mr. Sensei even stopped by last Sunday’s class and gave us a lecture/demonstration. He also talked about Aikido’s philosophy of harmonizing with one’s attacker and not seriously hurting him or her.

I really cannot emphasize to you how much the above paragraph is pure and unadulterated BULLSHIT!

And now, here’s the entry as originally written, minus that paragraph.

. . . . . .

Maybe I should’ve researched Aikido more thoroughly before signing up for it. I mean, I like this martial art and will keep going to classes for now. It’s just that it seems I have, per usual, jumped head first into something before thoroughly researching it. Maybe such impulsiveness gives me a thrill. Maybe it’s a way of compensating for the way I over-think too many other aspects of my life. Whatever the cause, I just keep jumping before looking.

I was aware of Aikido’s basics, of course. About how this particular martial art emphasizes redirecting an attacker’s force and momentum against him/her. That Aikido requires little physical energy (i.e., not much upper body strength) to throw and disable the attacker.

What I hadn’t anticipated was that Aikido training calls for constant partnering. This means our beginners’ class of about ten students is balanced with an additional ten intermediate to advanced students who go through the movements with us much like choreographers teaching dance moves. That’s okay. Choreography I can do.

Then there’s the grappling. In my last blog, Robert commented that he himself wasn’t too sure about the grappling vs. striking debate. What the hell is grappling? I asked myself. And more important, does it hurt? So I looked it up and learned that, yes indeedy, Aikido is a grappling art – very hands on the opponent, grapple as in clinching, manipulate the joints, holds, throws. That I can do.

unity handsBut what I definitely won’t like is the backward roll. Aikido calls for lots of throws and falls and rolls. Falls and front rolls are a piece of cake. But going backward? Figuratively, I go backward all the time. I am the goddess of regression. But for some reason I’ve always been afraid of injuring my neck in a backward roll, and it doesn’t take much for me to put a painful crick in my neck. Making me do a few too many backward shoulder rolls is a sure-fired way for it to go AACK!

(PARAGRAPH REMOVED)

(AND BY THE WAY, AT NO TIME AT THIS SCHOOL DID WE BEGINNER STUDENTS PRACTICE ROLLS OR FALLS WITH OR WITHOUT OUR PARTNERS.   THIS WAS IN SHARP CONTRAST TO THE MUCH HIGHER SAFETY STANDARDS AND MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING THAT I EXPERIENCED IN TAE KWAN DO CLASSES ELSEWHERE.)

. . . . . .

Okay, I gotta say that the notion of protecting an attacker from injury is pretty weird for me.

If someone ever attacks me, my first two reactions will be to 1) save myself by 2) killing my attacker. Tae Kwan Do reinforced this instinctive feeling. We were often paired up in those classes too, but to kick, punch and block. Let me tell you, I learned right off that seriously hurting a big, strong man was nigh impossible for me. Even the scrawny adolescent guys I sparred with weren’t easy taking down. What I realized instead was that if I’m ever attacked in real life, I should go for the kill as quickly as possible.

At the risk of sounding morbid, I’ll explain.

ballerina_battement[1]When I was in college a few of my student friends were studying nursing. These same sweet-looking nursing students told me how easy it was to kill someone with your bare hands if you knew how to: among other things, go for the throat and crush it or rip it open.

Then there’s the ballet lesson.

In college and afterwards I took lots of ballet. It was in one of those classes that an instructor told us bunheads about how strong our grand battement (high kick) should be. He said he knew a delicate-seeming ballerina who was attacked by a would-be rapist. She instantly killed him by giving him a powerful grand battement to the throat.

Fast forward to the present. Now I’m studying Aikido. Will I truly adopt its gentle philosophy? I kinda doubt it. On the other hand, I do wish to learn this remarkable art of throwing/manipulating people bigger and stronger than I am and without hurting them.   After all, odds are I’ll never meet someone I’ll need to kick in the throat (and I certainly hope not!).   But I often meet people I wouldn’t mind tossing around.