Aiki was in a kafuffle because he was tying his belt and didn’t know which way the ‘arrow’ was supposed to point.

“I’m not sure it matters, A-D - why are you so worked up about it,” I asked. I didn’t ask why he was wearing his aikido belt with jeans, a polo shirt and a blazer.

“I’ve got a date tonight and I want to be sure I’m authentic.”

Ah. Now I understood.

“Um…maybe you should just wear a regular belt instead of flaunting your ‘aikido-ness’. Let her get to know the real you…”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. I can still tuck my bokken into a normal belt.”

I could see my work was cut out for me. As I was marshaling my thoughts, Aiki-Doh!-ka rolled up his belt and showed me that the inside loop looked like a yin-yang symbol.

“Or if you turn it this way, a Superman ‘S’…”

I’m happy that A-D can entertain himself so easily.

“Look Aiki, about this date, can I offer a little advice?”

He agreed to listen as long as I bought him a beer on the way downtown, where he was meeting his date. And so as gently as I could, sempei to kohai, I was able to share some ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ about dating in the context of being an aikido enthusiast:

Don’t wear any part of your uniform, even if it’s freshly laundered.

Don’t take yourbokken - or any weapon, for that matter.

Don’t demonstrate any techniques on her - she’s your date, not your uke.

Don’t bow and say “Osu” when you meet her, or anyone else, i.e. the maitre d’ at the restaurant.

Don’t pretend to trip so you can show off your ukemi. She’ll just think you’ve been drinking.

Don’t say “hajime!” when your food comes to the table.

Do Take a shower, wear deodorant and trim your nails.

Do show up on time, but don’t do push-ups if you’re late.

Do blend. If she takes your hand, go with it.

A-D listened carefully and seemed to take the advice to heart. After finishing his beer, he left on his quest for love, leaving me to ponder…hey, I wonder if that woman over there does aikido…