Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Day with Vladi

On Sunday I was privileged to spend the afternoon with Vladi the Siberian wolf(courtesy, of course, Dianna Lynne). It was a beautiful sunny day with a cool side to it that is unusual in this area in late August. So the day was spent in a series of long walks, meal and snack breaks, and many explanations of exactly what Vlad is. The question of"What kind of dog is that?" comes up frequently. I notice Dianna will dodge the topic when someone simply says, "What a beautiful dog!) Just take the compliment and move on. But when the question is asked, Dianna answers"Wolf" and the discussion proceeds from there.

For the record, Vlad is a full Siberian wolf. Hence the name Vladimir. His father was a Tundra wolf. Visualize Vladi and his fur length and the non-white color in him and we can get a sense of his dad. His mom is a timber wolf. Completely white with short hair. In Russian Vladimir means ruler of peace. However, the word "mir" can also be translated as world, so I pointed out his name could also mean he rules the world. His personality is to be very shy, actually shunning attention. At events he prefers to be alone in some corner where he is not noticed. In the dojo he likes to hide under the office desk.

So he is a wolf. And friendly, not tame. I enjoy being around him because for me he exudes a sense of primalness. A sense of nature, not wild, but primal. Fresh. Real.
He has a very strong prescence. So his energy is very tangible. When he is focusing on you, you feel it. And to be able to let him know that I acknowledge his presence without being too outward(his shyness) is also a good challenge. He is a very intelligent being.

One of our favorite films is Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke". Wolves play a very important role in the film. The title character is raised by the wolf gods and later rides them. The film radiates a sense of the primal in nature that Vlad awakens in me. It is an energy that is indigenous to the Kumano area of Japan where the founder of aikido was born and the Shingu dojo is. I hope you enjoy the following clip:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sebastopol Weekend

Friday nite, Saturday, Sunday, I spent at Tenchi Aikido. It was the third anniversary of the new dojo. This dojo is run by Betsy Hill sensei, who in addition to being an old friend, is the first person in aikido that I met. Friday nite was a short training, followed by a ceremony. I chanted both Amatsu Norito and Kami Goto.

Saturday and Sunday were morning and afternoon classes with dan tests included in the afternoon segment. Congratulations to Jim Gauer on his promotion to nidan and to Cathy McFann for her promotion to sandan. They were both strong tests.

Attending the seminar on Saturday was Seth Spitzer, a long-time student of Aikido of San Jose who is now in San Francisco on work. Seth was scheduled to test sometime back but then moved to San Francisco. We used the occasion, with Seth's permission, to test him for shodan. His also was a very good test, and so I have the pleasure to announce his promotion to shodan. I included a photo of him taken a few years back at one of our dojo Halloween parties. Seth was the Thing from Marvel's Fantastic Four and I was a deathdealer from the Underworld movies.

Saturday following exams and training Dennis Kyne and I played music. We usually play Saturday after class in the San Jose dojo. Since I wanted to practice, we set up a playing session that was open to those who went to the seminar. It was well received and portions of it were shot by several of the people there(a good sign). My thanks to Dennis for coming up and supporting me both by training and letting me play. In addition to Dennis I would like to thank Mary, of course Seth, Ken, Andrew, David, Mike, and anyone else from ASJ who went and supported the event. And of course it was wonderful as always to see Dianna and Vlad.

I found the following Chet Baker piece on youtube, entitled "Nightbird":

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sue Ann McKean

Yesterday I had a chance to catch up with an old friend, Sue Ann McKean. Sue Ann taught at the old dojo in Japantown in the '90's. She was also the uchi deshi or live in student at that dojo's location when it opened in July of 1990. She was a member of a meditation group I belonged to in the '70's. She is still active in aikido teaching at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and also Deanza College. The picture was taken yesterday in the hill of Portola Valley right by where she lives. Pictured along with her is Lola.

She is currently in the middle of a 5 year program of study in Vedic Astrology and has just returned from India. Often times going out of country to do an intensive can be intense. I know that from my stays in Japan in the'70's Anyway we had lunch(prepared by her husband Jack and very delicious it was), talked for hours, and took a little hike on which the above photo was taken. Thank goodness for cell phone cameras.

Sue Ann is one of the top and senior aikidoists in the area. She had a meteoric career in female body building. A couple of her warrior shows, performed at body buiiding events in the '80's are available on my youtube channel(jackwada). But she has a unique feel for the art of aikido and is one of the very best at teaching through the body. This is unique and vital for an art that has grown more and more form and mind oriented.

Old friends are those you can really be yourself with and say what you feel. It is wonderful to have those. Any I certainly include Sue Ann among mine. I am including one of the warrior shows from youtube. In this one Jenny and I were in the audience watching along with everyone else.