Wednesday, April 6, 2011


The other day during a class at MCLA we were practising kata tori ikkyo. I had a line of 8 students or so and was doing my usual as nage and black belt, helping them learn the technique. Dora Sensei has those of us with experience throw first in the line, so set the tone. We show how it feels for an uke, but also how we want them to practise, that is gentle.This went fine until my whole line had thrown and I had the chance to throw again. 2 young men decided for whatever their reasons, to "test" my ki when I had gotten them to the walking down to the mat portion of the throw. The first refused to go down and even began a little taunt about how he would not be defeated. I totally fell into the trap. (the one that is internal and had very little to do with him) I applied a bit of pressure on the wrist and used a sudden tenkan to "make" him abruptly hit the mat. He got up, looked at me odd and walked back to the line. The second fellow did the same and as I began to feel that part of myself that wanted to 'win" surge again. I promptly let go and said aloud "This is not a competition, I am not here to force you, if you don't want to fall, then don't." I then asked him to rejoin the line. Now this may read like I got in that moment to some recognition, but when I spoke to this second student, my voice was harsh and I really did want to exert my will and make him and his buddy hi that mat and feel some power. In short, I wanted to control them and emerge the victor! I was surprised by the intensity of these feelings, but neither too are they alien in my practise. I think they come up now and again to remind me of why I practise/train. Letting go of force, the need to control is a constant unfolding process. It like the techniques gets looked at almost identically. I think of when I first began to learn techniques. I had to approach them in the most basic and gross way. Put hand here, shift this way, do this, turn... after a while I was able to uncover more subtleties, ever expanding until techniques as I first knew them begin to morph into something else, something free-flowing and unrestricted.  Ah but every techniques deserves a re-visitation back to the basics, put hand here, shift this way, turn... so too does the notion of using force or trying to control an uke. I need to re-visit it, sometimes by choice sometimes it comes to me an unexpected visitor, either way the experience of it let's me know where I want to go and that I have a long journey ahead.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Two Canada geese rose up together from the rippling, slate gray, green pond. Their flight separated by inches. I could feel the blending and connection as their wings beat in unison to gain height. They rose first then turned in unison. All wings moving together… so close…never touching except in energy and movement. Barren wheat fields lay beneath the geese. The air smelled of snow and the promise of green beneath the brown and yellow shafts.
Winter is ending, yet here in the Berkshires each sign of spring must be mentioned and relished. I saw crocuses today and now it is snowing. I bought some daffodils to remind me of summer’s sunshine.
I have been really sick with flu. The yellow blossoms and the geese remind me that soon I will be back on the mat…spring will really be here and all is well right now.