Monthly Archives: October 2012

Do it Now

There is no tomorrow. There is only a string of todays that ends in death. Each day is like a month. Each month is like a year. Each year is like a lifetime. Each lifetime is like a day.

Tomorrow is a lie. Today is the only true thing.


I am training with Tokuda-san, a young uchideshi, a live-in student at the Honbu Dojo. We are taking turns applying kotegaeshi, a hand reversal technique. When it’s my turn, I control his balance through his right  hand downward to his right front foot, and point his fingers toward his face as I wrap my right hand over the back of his. I step in and throw. He breakfalls, and stands to meet me again. He attacks again, this time with his left hand. I parry, controlling his left hand as I direct his balance downward and weight his left front foot. Instead of stepping in to throw, as is usual at Honbu Dojo, this time I pivot on the balls of both of my feet as I draw his balance forward, as I was taught in Shingu. I can read from the surprise on his face that this is new for him.

We switch roles: my turn to attack, his turn to parry and throw. I attack. He controls my balance downward, but instead of stepping in to throw, he wraps me in with a slight twist of his body. He doesn’t throw, but unwraps, and I respond by trying to retake my balance. He wraps me in again, and I realize his elbow is close to my nose. Then, he wraps me in and controls my balance into the ground. I breakfall and roll out. I attack again, and as he controls me downward, I can see this time that he is definitely experimenting with the distance between his forward elbow and my nose. I laugh.

We switch roles: my turn to parry and throw. I experiment, and find that it’s unnatural for me to actually be able to touch his nose with my elbow. But, it seems to me to be a good backup – if I were to lose control of his arm for some reason, my elbow is there near his face. I laugh. “This is a bit evil, isn’t it?” He laughs, too.

And there we are, trying things out, working within the form, experimenting with deviations from form, seeing what works, and creating Aikido for ourselves.

A Good Run

I’m thinning out my clothing, and finding that it feels wrong to stuff old clothing into a trash bag – I feel compelled to fold it neatly to put into a cardboard box, even though I’m going to throw the box away anyway. Rather than feeling like throwing something unwelcome away, I find myself thinking – thanks, we had a good run, but I need to move on.





An Unhurried Smile

Saturday night late in Roppongi. In El Cafe Latino, we are dancing, face to face, so close that I can feel her legs moving against mine. We swim together in a river of brass, guitar, woodblock, and spanish vocals. We are moving and pausing together at the right times. Transition from front-back basic to side basic. I spin her out, spin us back together. I turn, with my left hand put her hand on my right shoulder. She slides her fingers down my back, lowering her hand into my waiting right hand. It is non-sexual, non-assuming, just a “here I am.”

Basic step again, move in really close, our right legs are right in between each others’ and, pivot turn – 360 degrees in two beats! She laughs! I laugh! Then basic step, then link hands in a circle, so that we can dance a little apart and I can see her better.

Our time is unhurried, peaceful, balanced, happy, just like her smile.

The song ends. I smile, ask her her name, thank her.  We hug, and dance with other people.

I dance with another woman. She is very good, but likes to show off – too much extra movement and no connection. Another misreads my physical signals, but turning around sees the surprised look on my face, figures out we had a mix-up, laughed. She is playful and fun. Another has no frame – I guide and she moves, but I don’t feel as if I’m pushing or pulling against anyone. I decide to try a pivot turn. We can get close enough, but when we pivot she doesn’t lean out. The center of gravity is with me instead of between us, and we are unstable. Another can read my signals, but we can’t do pivot turns together because she doesn’t want to get close

And then the music changes from an upbeat salsa to a sexy and playful bachata. I find the girl with the unhurried smile. We dance, and I have the feeling of meeting an old friend again.