Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
 
Decadence at the Dojo

It's been a while since I did an Aikidoblog, but last night definitely qualifies, since I left the Dojo around 1am. Actually, I train much more often these days than I did in the summer. Last night we had a very special Dojo holiday party; besides being an annual event, this year's was particularly in honor of Dojo member Joshua, who is going on a three year monastic retreat to a Buddhist center in Santa Cruz. Peter Sempai felt that we, as Aikidoists, needed to balance out so much austerity and purity, so the theme of the party was Sin & Decadence. I'm not sure we accompished much on the first front (or perhaps I shouldn't blog it) but we definitely got the second part down.

It helped that the evening started out with an absolutely fabulous class. It was packed, almost three full rows of students, and the whole first row was just blackbelts in billowing hakama. Kim Sensei said that he couldn't really come up with a way of tying Aikido to sin, but since in meditation one needs to battle "bad things" he would show us ways of blending and reacting our techniques to an opponent who is doing an unexpected "bad thing." And it was just rock and roll after that.

It was wonderful to meet members of the Dojo whom I've been hearing about for a long time (including Josh) and also lovely to train with some people I haven't seen in a while, like Cynthia Sempai. For Aikidoists, I guess I'll just say that the class was pretty much built around morotedori kokyuho and how the nage can react and blend with variations in the initial attack of the uke. (The uke could pull down very hard; jab the nage's elbow up; twist the nage's elbow behind their back, lock their own elbows narrowly, lock their elbows very widely, keep dancing around, or--my personal favorite--attack two at a time, resulting in a precise dancing tangle where the two attackers are essentially knocked into each other and thrown down together.) There was also a great pin where the uke charges in with a fist, the nage blends with the uke's punching arm, controls this punching arm, pins the uke down on on their back and then flips them around onto their stomach. I would never have thought that being flipped over like an energetic rag doll could be so much fun.

Savoring fruit compote, artichokes, cookies, spinach stir fry, and Sara's magnificent "apple pie of lust", while musicians and feather-boa'd singers serenaded Joshua was, much more predictably, just as fun. So was dancing to James Brown and getting picked up and flipped over more times than I can count. And I did, finally, sorta, kinda almost manage to lift Scott and Diana off the ground. (Not at the same time. Though Scott did have me and Joshua up at the same time. Scott is big. Diana is taller than me, but not big.) Richard Sempai proved his skill at bawdy monastery-themed lyrics, despite being unfamiliar with the limerick dictionary. We did the limbo with the jo, both over and under (well, I stuck to under), and you haven't seen the limbo until you've seen someone go under with a full bottle on their head, unspilled. All in all, it was a great time. Happy Holidays everyone, and best of luck to Joshua.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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