Tag Archives: kizomba


After Kizomba class, the dance teacher and I did some sparring. She knows some Taekwondo and I know some Aikido. After exchanging some moves, she did a forward kick with her right leg, which I avoided while at the same time entering to her right side. As I did this I caught her right leg from the underneath, and placed my left arm on her waist to immobilize her. This placed me in a position to transition to a variety of throws, but of course I didn’t really want to throw her.

She then placed her arms around my shoulders and lifted her left leg on top of her right leg, turned her head, and smiled at the teachers and students who were looking at us.

I was very impressed, but managed a “how nice!” How creative and smart of my friend to have taken advantage of the moment, turning the sparring into a partners-in-fun smiling at an audience situation.

I later reflected that the other amazing thing was Aikido itself. (Warning: long martial arts tangent.) Instead of blocking the kick (as one might do with a karate gedan-uke), I stepped to avoid it and entered as in an aikido iriminage, and I did this without thinking. When this happened, our positions changed from facing-off to standing close together with me facing her cheek. Psychologically, this is not a fighting position. What’s more, I had ended the movement with perfect balance and posture, such that I hardly noticed when she let me support her full weight. (Quando lo spippolo è saltato in braccio!)

People have asked me how Aikido is different from other martial arts. The reply I have often given is that with dedicated training, it is possible to become proficient in any martial art.

But, I’m discovering that what makes aikido different is that it trains entering to a position beside or behind our partner: a position of non-opposition. In fact, there is a non-aggressive quality to all of the techniques.

Once, I was training at a Korinkai Sunnyvale, and the teacher said to me that what I was doing was effective, but it wasn’t the best because it was done in such a way that I was exciting my partner’s “will to fight.” At that time, I was doing iriminage with a bit of muscling, and may have even been including an upward chin strike as part of the kuzushi (balance-breaking). He demonstrated a kuzushi without a strike, and indeed without any sense that I was being pushed. His point was that physically effective technique will accomplish a throw or pin, but psychologically effective technique will do this without exciting the will to fight.

This video is a good example of aikido principles in application: youtu.be/x5yFDukjqaM

The defender did a clean sumi-otoshi, surprising his aggressor without the psychological escalation that might have resulted from a strike or push.

There’s Only This

Three essays about living in the moment.

周六在政治大學上合氣道,有做名為後兩手取腕㧕的技法。此技法是對手從後方抓手脖時將他帶到前方、通過一肢手向下壓制 。再練習當中,先輩問我:
我點點頭 。然後試試將他帶到前方後,不推而讓他靠近我身体之處將他指導下去。此時做得好。


Saturday evening Kizomba class
The lead teacher is a Brazilian woman with skin the color of a milky café latte and big bright eyes. She shakes my hand, in greeting, and as we exchange names she continues to hold my hand, and maintains eye contact. I feel connected, and the rest of the room falls away, and I feel as if the rest of the room has fallen away for her, too. It feels completely natural, but not sexual. It was like sharing a glass of water with a friend on a hot day.

When we break contact, she becomes teacher again, and I assume my role as student. I feel a deep admiration, and wonder if I will ever be able to make people feel as comfortable.

During one set, she sees that we are uncomfortable with each other. Many of us are meeting each other for the first time, and kizomba is a dance done in close proximity. “Ok,” she says kindly, “hug it out. I want you to hug each other, get it all out. Connect with your partner.” She leaves a moment of silence, and then continues with teaching us another move sequence.

There is a male instructor. I ask him a question about leading a move called the Estrella. He shows me by facing the same direction as me and connecting his right hip with my left hip, and he counts beats and moves. I move with him, and instantly understand.

After the kizomba class, I go with B, O, and K to a salsa party, B (who is Taiwanese) said of a Taiwanese instructor that he was the “best Taiwanese instructor, excluding foreigners,” because she said “there is something the foreign teachers have that Taiwanese teachers don’t have.”

I think I know what it is – I felt it in the way the female teacher made time stop a little for self-introductions by holding onto my hand a little longer. I felt it in the way the male teacher took me through the timing for the Estrella without using any words to explain. I think it is in the way Brazilian or other Latin American people are so comfortable with touch. They use it just as fluently as they use words to talk. Americans feel like they need to talk to stay connected. Japanese people feel like they need to maintain a respectful distance. Taiwanese people use touch a little bit more, but Latin American people are carrying on entire conversations with touch. I felt a little homesick for a place I’ve never been.

踊ってない女性に聞いた 「オンツーでしょう?」