Aiki and I were taking a breather, having decided to watch the next class instead of participating directly. Our fellow aikidoka were soon immersed in their shinsa, and it wasn’t long before the dojo rang with the sound of their ki-ai. After remarking that it sounded like a flock of geese had invaded, he made the following comment:
“But not everything you hear is a ki-ai.”
“Well sure A-D, some people are chatting about their technique…”
“That’s not what I mean; sometimes people say things in a loud voice, and it sounds like a ki-ai, but its not…”
He went on to elaborate, and the gist of it was this: while there are a lot of loud vocalizations during training, not all are ki-ai. The following is a partial list of non-ki-ai exclamations based on my recollection of his dissertation:
4. “Oh no!” (Or the variant “Oh-Oh!”, usually followed bt the comment, “That can’t be good for the tatami.”)
8. “Don’t touch me, you brute!”
Does this happen in your dojo?
That was the sum total of my commentary on awaking to discover a surprise snowfall after several days of spring-like weather that had caused most of the white stuff to disappear. My dark mood was interrupted by a loud knock on the door followed by what sounded like singing. I stomped to the door, ready to give whoever it was ‘what for’…
It was A-D, whistling now, with a snow shovel perched on his shoulder.
“Aiki, what are you doing here?”
“I came to help you clear the driveway - hurry up and get ready!”
I was speechless. But, never look a gift horse in the mouth, I always say. I scrambled to stuff my feet into boots and shrug on a coat, taking a wistful glance at the kitchen where I could here the coffee-maker working, and stepped outside.
“By the way, you spelled ‘Argh’ wrong, you forgot the ‘r’.”
“That’s the way I said it, deal with it.”
Aiki-Doh!-ka threw himself at the snow with a loud ki-ai. I went to the garage to get my shovel, and when I returned, I noticed that A-D’s attack on the driveway seemed a little erratic, leaving a pattern that looked like someone had randomly dragged their finger through the frosting on a cake. I made a comment to that effect and Aiki stopped and glared at me.
“Don’t you know shumatsu dosa ichi when you see it,” he fumed.
“Oh…right. Sorry Aiki.” He likes to take every opportunity to get a little extra training in. We continued, the chuff of shoveling punctuated periodically by a loud ki-ai as A.D. tucked into a particularly challenging drift. A few minutes later, though, it became quiet except for a whooshing sound. I turned to identify it just in time to duck as Aiki’s shovel whizzed past my head.
“Aiki, what the…”
“Jo solo # 1 - it’s on my test next week.”
“Yeah, well do I look like a piñata to you? Be a little more aware of your ma-ai !”
And so it went until were were finished, a half hour later (counting the time we took to make snow angels). Then A.D and I walked into the sunrise, heading for the diner for breakfast - my treat, of course…
Aiki-Doh!-ka and I were watching a bit of TV and a commercial came on for the lottery. It showed scenes of people demonstrating their ‘happy dance’ should they be so lucky as to win big. Lots of people bounced across the sceen in ecstacy and I heard A-D pipe up:
“All aikidoka should have a ‘happy ukemi’,” he stated.
“That’s a nice thought, Aiki - do you have one?”
“I’ll show you.”
He launched himself off the couch and into a blur of movement that resembled a break-dancing Tasmanian devil. I was a-feared for him (and the furniture), but he came out of it with a smile in his face (and a bit of carpet lint), seemingly none the worse for wear. In fact he looked, well, happy.
What’s your happy ukemi?
I was enjoying a greasy burger with Aiki-Doh!-ka after class the other day (it’s Sensei’s fault, really - he’s always saying to hold your hands close enough together, when doing shumatsu dosa ichi, to hold a hamburger) and I commented on how repulsive his burger smelled, smothered as it was with blue cheese.
“Yes, it sure gets your attention,” he said, eyes watering, “you could use it instead of an atemi.”
“What on earth are you talking about A-D?!”
“Well, the purpose of an atemi is to distract uke so you can steal their balance and apply a technique. You don’t have to actually hit them.”
“I don’t usually have a cheeseburger tucked in my dogi when I’m practicing, Aiki.”
“I’m just saying, you don’t have to hit them, just create a distraction. For instance, you could hold up a cell phone and say ‘It’s for you’.”
“I don’t bring my cell phone on the mat…”
“Or offer flowers, or ring a bell - maybe one of those ‘A-oo-ga’ horns.”
“My personal favourite is to toss a small rodent at uke; that’s very distracting.”
“Ok A-D, I get your point. It’s good to know you’re always thinking about aikido…”
As we finished our meal, I made a mental note to check Aiki’s dogi very carefully before class from now on…