Dojo Mojo

on March 19, 2010 in Misc

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.

10 Responses to “Dojo Mojo”

  1. Ben says:

    I randomly found your blog earlier today while doing a topic search on Google. I was so intreagued with the concept of your blog, that I’ve gone through every one of your posts. I am a writer as well, as well as a blogger, so I can appreciate where you’re coming from. I just want you to know that your blog thus far is really encouraging to me and an inspiration to “take life by the horns”. I look forward to your future posts; I will be following it from now on.

    Do you have a plan on when you’ll get your book published? I would love to read it. You did post on other famous authors who got rejected many times, I think that you just need to find the right publisher. From what I’ve heard from your blog and excerpts from your book that you’ve given, I think it is an excellent story. I think you should “attack” more in this aspect, because this is, in fact, why your life has changed so much in the last few months, and no one else has the pleasure of reading your work.

  2. Ben says:

    P.S. You should update your blog more often.

  3. admin says:

    Please don’t flog me! I already feel so guilty about not writing in it often enough. But yes, you’re right. I now resolve to update my blog more often.

  4. admin says:

    Okay — I’m at work and definitely not supposed to be looking at my blog stuff right now ’cause we’re about to go into a meeting. So I’ll answer your questions and chat with ya as soon as I can. And really — thanks so much for caring!

  5. Ben says:

    oh, no flogging was intentional about the blogging. The lame rhyme was definitely intended.
    I just find it so enjoyable to read, and after reading every single blog update in one day, I cannot imagine having the patience to wait 5 days for another update.

    By the way, I take Jiu Jitsu (known for grappling throughout martial arts) and it is very much a handy skill to know, especially for a character in your novel. Most fights end up on the ground, and grappling teaches you and ins and outs of the ground game. Stick with Aikido, I think you’ll be very grateful you did.

  6. admin says:

    What a relief to have another confirmation (Robert also approved) that Aikido is right for me and for Layla. Once I’ve had some more training in it, I might rewrite one scene in The Compass Master in which Layla has to fight an attacker.
    You actually read my whole friggin’ blog? I can’t tell you how happy and grateful that makes me.
    Now no more commenting from me while I’m at work! I’ll promise to write another entry tonight and talk about stuff in your first comment.

  7. Hart says:

    Oh, now I LOVE the idea of fighting without hurting anyone. Aikido sounds GREAT to me. And actually-you’ll find in life, rolling has other uses. I learned to skydive when I was 17 and we spent almost ALL of our instrection time learning how to roll because no matter how fast or hard you’re falling, rolling out of it will reduce injury. (then again, I was a gymnast, so it came fairly naturally to me)

  8. admin says:

    If nothing else I’m an expert on figuratively rolling with the punches. But since skydiving is on my calendar for June, then I better learn to roll in every direction literally.
    So you were a gymnast! I’m jealous ’cause that’s a great sports background to have, and the younger you start the more instinctive the moves are. For an old fart like me, the training is tougher.

  9. Elisa says:

    I found your blog randomly while doing a search on aidiko. This post is especially interesting for me since I danced ballet for almost all my life and right now I’ve been fencing for almost two years. I was especially interested in aidiko for self defense especially since I just turned 21 and I’m increasingly growing paranoid of men attacking me; also I wanted to take up some iaido so I could learn how to work a katana. My main concern about aidiko is if it shaped your body in a certain way, meaning that does it get your upper body bigger or something. I would love to practice aidiko but I don’t want to sacrifice my feminine figure, especially since I hate muscular arms.
    Would love to know your comment on this.

  10. Helena says:

    Elisa — I’m so glad you found my blog! And I love that like me you fence and danced ballet.
    As for Aikido, I’m afraid I had to drop out of it after only five classes when a black belt injured me (as I describe in my later entries). PLEASE don’t let that scare you off, since every martial artist I know (outside of that particular Aikido school) told me that such an injury to a beginner is extremely unusual. Still, from what I could see, Aikido uses the momentum of an attacker against him, hence you don’t need major upper body strength for it to work.
    Years ago I did take Tae Kwan Do for six months, which firmed up my arms without bulking them up. But more than anything fencing has built up my arms, and that’s okay since my arms and shoulders have tended to be bony so building them up have made them look better.
    One thing about the martial arts: if you’re seriously paranoid about being attacked, you may want to also consider Kung Fu. I don’t know anything about it personally, but a friend really recommends it for fending off a deadly attacker. On the other hand, with Aikido even a petite woman can throw a guy to the ground with ease.
    For more insight into Aikido, weight lifting and muscle building (or for you, avoiding bulking up), I recommend that you take a look at the comments by Robert L. Read, a man who really knows his stuff around the subjects. You can find his comments under my entries “Taking Charge” and “Aikido Women,” both listed under my March entries. If I were more tech savy I’d put the links in here for you, but I ain’t so I apologize.