Today’s Class

I thoroughly enjoyed today’s class, excessively short though it seemed. We did an extended version of the warmups we normally do, and certain aspects of it were explained a little more in-depth. Then we broke out into ranks, and us rankless mukyu helped the one mukyu who’s planning to test this Saturday by playing uke (a.k.a. “the throwee”) and letting her toss us around. It was also really helpful to me, so that I could start recognizing and naming some of the techniques I’ve been learning. We also broke things down and I got to play nage (the thrower instead of the throwee) with Roy-sempai. Yes, the same Roy-sempai whom I inadvertently allowed to twist my arm last week. I got to learn that very technique more thoroughly today, so that hopefully won’t happen again.

After that, we broke into mixed pairs to do a few basic techniques. Grabs, throws, nothing extravagant. One of these, though, separated those who could roll (not me) from those who couldn’t (me). I tried being uke once; Sensei saw my sorry excuse for a roll, and took me aside and showed me *again* how it’s done. Not the cool-looking flying around sort of roll that everyone else can do, but a roll beginning on hands and knees. Granted, that’s where I need to start — but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating to feel like everyone’s watching me crawl around on my little corner of the mat, doing somersaults.

Of course, that’s what I need, on several levels. I came to a level of acceptance that I needed with that.

After class, I spontaneously asked Sensei if I could join the Zen Meditation group that meets after class on Wednesdays. He had no problem with that, and took a goodly amount of one-on-one time with me to explain the basics of zazen. He also asked why I was interested in zen meditation, and I may have made my spiritual “search” seem a little more recent than it really was. I “came out” as a non-Christian pretty early on in our conversation, and I inadvertently exaggerated the void that my denial of organized religion had left. After that, I tried to play up the other life changes (job, potential family) to downplay the religious/spiritual. I also managed to throw in the comment from Ms. Beall that I mentioned earlier, and Sensei was aghast that I had such a teacher. “She was a gift,” I believe he said. I had to agree.

The practice itself involved chanting, seated meditation, and walking meditation. The chanting was slightly odd for me — I’ll bet it sounds a lot better in an Eastern language rather than a Germanic language like English — but I think I picked up on it well enough.

I left the dojo feeling relaxed, physically energized/tired, mentally relaxed and alert, and in a particularly good mood.

And smelly. Did I mention smelly? Yes, sweaty and smelly.

Consensus? Wednesday nights at the dojo are a go. I hardly ever want to eat dinner after aikido, anyway, so it works out. Brief class, chill at the dojo, a couple hours of group meditation… sounds like a proper weekly devotional to me.