The dojo is highly energized right now as a result of a clinic by Ando Sensei at a nearby aikido club. I was only able to go for one session, and while I took away some good technical details that have been amplified by my peers who were able to stay for the whole weekend, what stood out for me was this:
Ando Sensei has an astounding ability to surf his partner’s energy at the precise point of balance. His ability to feel this, coupled with his incredible timing, made his aikido beautiful and inspiring indeed.
His teaching was clear and supportive, and sprinkled with good humor, making for an atmosphere of great positivity that was very conducive for practice. On a personal note, when asked what was the most difficult experience as uchideshi, he replied, laughing, “teaching aikido to kindergarten kids,” a task he was assigned for several years.
Finally, he stated many times that mastery takes time and practice, and to be gently patient with oneself on the mat - what may not make sense now will, in time, become clear.
And so I have hope that one day I’ll be able to surf too…
It’s been a long winter here in Canada, and Aiki-Doh!-ka was showing signs of cabin fever: he sanded and re-finished all his buki (his gi seems to be varnished too), wrote hundreds of haiku (mostly about chilblains and dry-cracker feet), and memorized long passages from “The Book of Five Rings”, making him prone to quoting from that veritable tome in a sage and mystical way that left his training partners puzzled and a little bit nervous.
We decided that an intervention was required, and bundled him into a car without telling him where we were going, just that it would be a surprise. A couple of hours later, we arrived in the big city and found our way to a well established dojo that was hosting a clinic by one of A-D’s idols.
It proved to be the perfect tonic as he spent the entire weekend (except for a brief visit to the emergency room and the afternoon that he got lost on the subway) immersed in his favourite activity, surrounded by people who were as passionate about aikido as he is. (Well, almost.)
Now he’s fresh and cheerful (and sporting a few new duct tape patches on his dogi) and seeing daffodils every time he looks out the window.
May your irimi into spring be just as joyful!