Monday, June 26, 2006

Tempura and Times Past

Last night Nadeau sensei, LaurinHerr, and a group went out for dinner to a tenpura restaurant. Not knowing Tokyo at all well, i just followed along. When we got to the restaurant, I had a feeling of deja vu. Later during the dinner I asked Laurin if this was the restaurant that he and I and Hikitsuchi sensei, along with a group of teachers and students from the Shingu dojo, had come to for dinner in June of 1977. Laurin smiled and indicated that it was.

In June of 1977, Hikitsuchi sensei took a group from the Shingu dojo to participate in the annual All-Japan Aikido Demonstrations. This was the 3rd and last of my 3 major stays in Japan. Hikitsuchi sensei asked for and was given the opening slot in the second and last section of demos. There was a large central stage of mats, surrounded by 2 smaller ones. The instructors took the central stage, and the student demos were on the side stages. Finally, Hikitsuchi sensei took the central stage. With his bo he performed misogi and kaguri mae(literally the dance of the kami). He punctuated it with the kototama O to an up spiral, then suspended the whole of the budokan where the demos were held with the penetrating kiai EIIII! He motioned to me to come out and take ukemi. True to the spirit of a HO NO EMBU we had rehearsed nothing. He expected you to just intuitively know what to do. And if you just let go things generally went well. I remember he started to spin the bo in very sudden and tight spirals, just like Bruce Lee working with nunchaku. I immediately got that I was supposed to go into that spinning field of energy and grab the bo. Despite the speed of the movements, there were stillnesses or void points to move in and grab, but only if I could settle past my fear and surrender. I would rush in, grab the bo, then get thrown. Despite the packed house in the Budo palace filled with Aikido and other budo dignitaries, there was a calm to everything and it flowed. Finally on the last exchange he came at me with a thrust and I missed. The bo took me right in the stomach as I was charging in on him. But I was not hurt. Though very penetrating, it was at the same time light. I was uprooted and thrown some not inconsiderable distance back. I landed safely and that was the end of the demo. Afterwards we all went out to the Tempura place for dinner. At that time I was married. Sarah and I by then had been deep in the Japanese countryside for 6 months, immersed in the culture and training. Following the dinner we went to a showing of Casablanca. Bogart, Bergman, and of course Sam(Dooley Wilson)....Through the magic of cinema we were transported to yet another world. After the film, we began a very eventful trip back to Shingu. But that is a story for another time..........

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Monday morning in Tokyo

Our flight was long(10.5 hours) and otherwise uneventful. This morning our group met at quarter of six and walked together to Hombu dojo, with Nadeau sensei leading the way. Doshu taught a fine and very energetic class. Even though it was not very warm, the humidity was something we \californians we`re not used to. Thegroup of 40 new people made the mat even more crowded than usual. At Hombu dojo the custom is to train with the same partner the whole hour, and I had a great class partner the whole hour, and I had a great class paired with Frank Silvey. After class and a short meeting with Doshu, the rest of the morning was spent withNadeau sensei in a couple of coffe shops interspersed with a couple of taxi rides. On Wednesday we are scheduled to visit the Aiki shrine in Iwama. I have not been there since 1973. We will return that night, hopefully, to have dinner as a group with Doshu. Jet lag is beginning to take me, so I will sign lag is beginning to take me, so I will sign out now .

Friday, June 23, 2006

Leaving Tomorrow

Here I am Friday evening in the dojo office. We leave tomorrow morning from sfx. I'm here making sure bills are paid and the office is in some semblance of order. I hope everyone will train well while we are gone. We are going to make the Doshu's class at Tokyo Hombu dojo Monday morning at 6:30 am. On Thursday I'll be taking a small group to Southern Japan to visit Osensei's grave and to meet Anno sensei. In Shingu I hope to visit both Hikitsuchi sensei's and Tojima sensei's graves and to go to the Nachi waterfall, probably my favorite place in Japan. We will be back Sunday, July 2nd. Anyway, back to work. If all goes well I'll catch a late showing of "Click" and sleep on the plane.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Happy Birthday and Japan

Last week I celebrated my Birthday(June 9th). It was wonderful to see and hear from old friends and family. I want to thank Vincent for the Michael Jordan card, Sue for a great birthday lunch, Lou for the great comic book graphic novels, Seth for the Superman collections, Harry for "Donnie Darko" and "Final Fantasy", Alex for lunch and a wonderful day at the beach in Santa Cruz, and my daughter Jenny for a wonderful oil painting she did herself. This did not take place on one day, but in the time period around that day. I'll try to post a picture of my daughter's painting as well. She was born and grew up in our old location in Japantown on 6th street. She spent many hours writing stories and working on drawings as she grew up, and I've always thought she was inwardly an artist.

I'll be gone on a trip to Japan June 24th thru July 2nd. I hope to make some posts with this blog for the dojo website. So stay tuned............