Corte Madera/Davis Weekend
Last weekend I shared a wonderful time with friends, so I'm sharing that with you, hopefully, in this blog. I visited my friends Dianna and Vlad in Fair Oaks. Dianna had wanted to catch Saotome sensei for a long time. He was in town to personally christen the Tamalpais dojo at its new location. So we headed up Sunday morning to catch the last hour of his morning class. In the '80's we were priviledged to have him personally teach at our old location in Japantown San Jose. Frank Doran sensei would invite him out and would be kind enough to include us on the schedule. I remember one memorable day hanging out with Saotome sensei, Doran sensei, and my daughter Jennifer. We all caught a matinee showing of the film "Ghandi". He then taught a wonderful evening class. When I would visit Hombu dojo in the early to mid-seventies, I was lucky enough to catch his class on several occasions. I still also remember his first visit to the bay area in the mid-seventies. I think it was 1976. He taught a Saturday class at Aikido of San Francisco at its Turk St location. Then Sunday he taught an all day workshop at Stanford University. This was way before he had a national organization. We were all a bit more carefree in those days. At any rate it was a pleasure to again see him teach and move. He has a sense of grace and beauty that belies an incredible depth and power. It was very moving to see him to moves from the '70's from an indescribably more suble and deeper level. After class I did "aisatsu", personally paying my respects. After a few moments he remembered me. His reaction to Vlad was "taberaremasu" which means he can "eat/devour me". He has always had an incredible sense of humor.
On the way back we stopped at UC Davis. There was a festival of sorts going on with lots of colorful booths. I attended Davis for 2 years from 1970 to 1972. I got a Masters in Russian then went to Japan and never really looked back. I struggled for 2 years there and was lucky to escape with a degree. It was really my first experience living away from home. My 4 years at UC Santa Cruz I lived at home. The change from Santa Cruz to Davis was great. Santa Cruz at the time was a much more radical and hipper place. I was happy to see that Davis has since followed suit. I lived at Russian House. All students there were studying Russian and we had Anita, a native speaker, so we were supposed to speak only Russian in that house. The second year it became a co-op. Dianna, Vlad and I looked for the old building and found it. It is now Pierce Co-op. I had a conversation with Jenine, one of its current residents, and shared some of the old history. And she told me that one of the recent housemates was into aikido and tai chi and had gone to Japan to study aikido. Maybe some of my old energy still lingers there. I used to do tai chi every morning in the back area next to a tree. The tree is still there. I tried a Vulcan mind meld and the tree still remembers me! Trees live to a different rhythm and maybe the tai chi touched it in a way most other human activity doesn't. It's a dear old friend and I'm glad you're still there.
Pictured above are me and the tree behind Russian house, Vlad and 3 admiring young girls, and Saotome sensei with Dianna and Vlad. A couple of words about Vlad. He is a wolf and while friendly, must be treated as such. Try not to move abruptly or suddenly around him. It is not that he is dangerous. But he will start and that might frighten you. Also, while he allows it sometimes, do not pet him on the head. He might think you are trying to restrain him and react. React means it will startle him. But since he is a wolf he may frighten YOU. So ask if you can pet him on the chest.
Below is a picture of me in front of the Old Russian House(now Pierce Co-op):