Saturday, December 02, 2017
We were training in Yoshinkan Aikido from 5:45 AM at the Roppongi dojo. Chris and I had asked Mike, a former Senshusei participant and instructor at Yoshinkan Honbu Dojo, for a semi-private lesson. He agreed to teach us, albeit with a few conditions: 1) class was from 5:45 - 6:45 AM on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays. note: the "regular" class was from from 7:00 - 8:00 AM and sometimes we ended up joining that one after as well. 2) No debate, no discussion. We do as instructed 3) we learned "the old way". Hard. No shortcuts, no complaints.
Fine by us (or so we thought until we actually had to do it) .
Those were VERY EARLY MORNINGS, but filled with energy and good training.
I miss it.
One of the regular participants from 7:00 was a timid, shy Japanese girl, Saori. She wondered why, arriving so early, we were already there and training. She asked if she could join. We told her the same conditions would apply. She accepted. I saw her test for 3rd degree black belt a few years ago --- well done Saori-sensei! She may be many things, but timid and shy are no longer among them. She is powerful, confident and a great martial artist.
But I digress... questions were asked during class. Some of these were fundamental questions about the aikido principles and theory that are not easily answered without interrupting the training for lengthy discussion. In our class we drilled. Hard. Constantly. There was no time for lecture. Given my background in both Aikikai (1987 - 1989) and Takeda-Ryu Aikijujitsu (1995 - 1998) I was by no means an expert in Yoshinkan, but with many years combined of traditional Japanese martial arts including Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu, Ninjutsu as well as aforementioned aiki styles I was confident I could answer some basic questions about the principles and objectives - just not during class.
VOILA - this blog was born.
12 years later I have almost 450 posts and have had more than 72,000 page views. My training focus has changed, but my blog remains the chronicle of my journey. In it I have tried to detail what was important to me along the way, drawing inspiration from teachers, students, peers, friends and current events.
All of this through the lens of a martial artist.
It would be a lie to say I am not proud of it - my blog represents everything of value I could document in which I have tried to tackle timely, relevant questions and observations from the past 12 years of my journey. I started writing it for others, but ultimately I have written it really for myself - focused on the topics I wanted to cover. I hope others have gotten value from it as well.
I strongly encourage every student to write their own martial arts blog.
It is a great way to document your reflections, learning, questions and growth through your journey. It is a great way to push yourself to see the world through your "martial eyes" and find inspiration from every day happenings. I often find myself reading old posts and remembering the training that inspired them, reflecting on my understanding at the time. Have my opinions changed? Of course they do, but it is interesting to be reminded of what I thought at the time.
The blog can be a great place to record your thoughts, post videos, write questions and comments and generally stay engaged with your training. Mine has become a kind of "life work" and a treasure beyond my expectations.
Thank you for reading it.