Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Progress Towards Keiko Hajime

Shoumen is built! Now I need to do some sanding and slap some stain on there and/or varnish.

Calligraphy... needs practice. I haven't picked up a brush since 1996. "Rusty" is an understatement, but it's coming back slowly.

Mats are a work in progress. I found a local set online to purchase and am waiting to hear from the seller. Otherwise there is a set we can borrow. Either way, we should have something to roll around on for Keiko Hajime on Friday.

I paid us up for November and picked up the key to the space last night. Unfortunately I didn't snap any pics, but I'll get some Thursday for sure when we do a test run with whatever mats we end up acquiring.

Keiko is fast approaching; see you on the mat very soon!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Affiliation - Why it Matters

I e-mailed our new location to Pat Hendricks Sensei in San Leandro and she was pleased to hear we had a space to practice. Pat-sensei also asked me to let her know after our first class so she could help us get set up and formally affiliated with the California Aikido Association.

As a dojo, affiliation puts us on the map and adheres us to a standard for practice, rank, and testing. When you receive rank at Kinjo Dojo, it will be recognized at aikido schools all over the world that are tied to Hombu dojo in Tokyo, Japan. But more importantly, because of our connection to Pat Hendricks Sensei, you will be able to train at any Iwama-style school and have familiarity with their practice, both open-hand and weapons.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of that last part. There are Iwama-style seminars going on all the time we can attend as a group and further our practice. If you travel or move to another town, you can look up an Iwama-style school, walk in the door, and pick up where you left off. For students interested in intensive training, the option is available to do uchi-deshi at Aikido of San Leandro, our parent dojo.

We are not an island of aikido practice with a unique style. Our dojo is part of a large family of aikido schools throughout the world that faithfully follow the teaching system developed by Morihiro Saito Shihan and continued by his son, Hitohira Saito Shihan.

As chief instructor at Kinjo Aikido Dojo, I am honored to be able to carry on that tradition and share what I have learned over the years.

See you on the mat soon!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Adventures in Space and Time

We have found a temporary space that should work for our needs until we can work out our permanent spot which happens to be a few blocks down the street on 38th.

For the rest of 2013, Kinjo Dojo will have practice at Elixir Pilates & Wellness in Wheat Ridge. See our When and Where page for address and class times.

The pilates studio has some "reformer" machines occupying a portion of the room. Our usable space is about 470 square feet which is plenty of room for kihon practice and some rolling around.

We're tentatively planning a Keiko Hajime (first practice) for November 1st from 6 to 7:30pm. I will post an event with more details soon.

See you on the mat!

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's not Public Till it's on Facebook...

Our facebook page is live, so check it out:

I prefer google plus, but everyone and (literally) their mother is on facebook so we can't ignore that audience.

Launching the page on facebook is like telling the world what we're doing, and it's a big step. I spoke with Hendricks-sensei last month about our plans and she was supportive. Last week Tyffany talked to Stephanie Yap-sensei and she wished us the best which was great to hear. Since Yap-sensei is active on facebook I wanted to make sure we told her before "going public."

Update on the hunt for space: I'm checking in on a pilates/yoga studio near 38th and Wadsworth for a temporary space while we sort out our long term plans. Hopefully we can get a couple of nights a week to start. Check back here for updates.

See you on the mat soon!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Walking in the Aikido Fog

(I wrote this back in April of 2012 as a requirement for my ni-dan examination.)
After you have practiced for a while, you will realize that it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary progress. Even though you try very hard, the progress you make is always little by little. It is not like going out in a shower in which you know when you get wet. In a fog, you do not know you are getting wet, but as you keep walking you get wet little by little. 
-- Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (1973)

An aikido sempai once told me what he knew of aikido had been learned through constant and persistent training. Getting through the dojo door and onto the mat every night is the foundation of Aikido practice. The founder made the same statement several times through his life. Aikido is learned through training and repetition.

Reading Suzuki’s quote about walking through the fog snapped the two ideas together into what has become my own personal motto for training: get on the mat as much as possible; improvement is often imperceptibly gradual.

After training for over 15 years, I don’t always notice changes to my practice from one day to the next, or one class to the next. However, I can often look back over the past year and note small improvements. Changes happen, but slowly over the course of months or years.

Even knowing that improvement is gradual and will happen with training, making the first step to get through the dojo door can be difficult some days. These have always been the times when I needed to train the most; I need to go to class, but am having trouble getting off the couch. When thinking back to past classes, I can’t remember a time when after training I thought, I shouldn’t have gone to class. Every training has benefit. The ones where I had a difficult time motivating myself to get on the mat even more so.

Good training is frustrating. Without the sometimes painful push to improve, practice is empty. That push may come from Sensei, or myself - usually both. First Sensei points out what I’m doing wrong. Next I think, no I’m not. Really? then, how long have I been doing that? Ten years or more? After going through the mental process of recognizing what needs fixing, I make the effort to change my technique and hope it sticks. Unfortunately my old habits tend to be stubborn and the process may repeat a few times before I can move on.

These small realizations are droplets in Suzuki’s fog. The idea that even though I don’t feel like training, it will be worth it afterwards takes time to sink in. Going through the frustrating process of finding and recognizing the mistakes I’m making in my techniques, then attempting to fix them so that the changes become permanent can be painful and some fixes take months. Later in class I’ll notice I made the change without thinking, and remember the reason I keep walking through the dojo door.

I’ve found that one bokken suburi no matter how well executed is not enough, nor is one hundred. Only after thousands of suburi does the form begin to reveal itself. Thousands of suburi, and thousands of hours on the mat eventually lead to a better understanding of Aikido, and I feel like my training is just getting started.