The weekend session was difficult, and magical in one go. I am realizing my art is growing to a point where teachers that i respect are calling me up to come play with me. What an honor. Seems like years of traveling and training are paying off - I am making friends.
I was limping from sickness, but something about the dojo makes me a magic man. I read even close to death Ueshiba was on the mat skating around. The mat healed me or at least gave me enough energy to make it through.
Waddell Sensei called me up last Sunday and said he was coming down. I put the word out. 7 heads of Dojos, from different styles, showed up scattered over the three days. While I have seen photos of Fugakukai gatherings of room full of red and white stripey belts, for a humble low level art such as myself I can only say I was honored.
Most of the teachers played well - typically just shutting up when the person who had the most to say chimed in. I found there was a ego or two - ironically from the practitioners that had the low technical skill. I still loved having them, realizing their next Aikido lesson is in their relationship with their ego...and with others.
Matl Sensei is an interesting guy. Quitely commanding..hopping right in playing the whole time. I am not sure I am sold 100 percent on his system of body dyanmics, but I would be a fool not to study it for 15 years to try to disprove it.
Waddell Sensei stayed with me the weekend. I remember Charles Clark coming into to town and staying with Russell 15 years ago. I was envious to be outside the inner circle. Now I realize the honor of being inside, and I try to make it inclusive. Open invitation, my door and couch is open to anyone who wants to join the after hours club. Mostly it involves Russell and I drinking....him trying to convert me to Christ, and me trying to explain to him the path of a Zen Magician. Overall the encounter is another hard game of religious randori. Not Shiai, just a wonderful game of testing each others path.
On the mat Russell in a lumbering big man. His Aikido is not classic by any sense. He is a Randori man, and he does not even set all the randori rules like most teachers I have worked with. We dance, sometimes attacking furiously...sometimes in slow motion. I think I scored 2 "real" throws on him in the 45 minute session. I am getting better!
Another of the great surprises was a man named Brendon Hussey. He nervously approached the dojo. Evidentally he used to do Judo with Russell back in the 1970s, and was looking for an old friend. He too was an Aiki man now. Brendon grabbed me and did Aiki 100 percent different than Russell's. He had me dancing up and down the mat like a puppet. The whole time he was tripping LSD like philosophy on Aiki, the way you don't hear Tomiki men talk. I had never felt Aiki like this, but there is some serious truth to it. Different than Russell's Aiki....who also kicks my butt.
I learned this weekend...yet again I don't have a clue what I am doing. 23 years in martial arts and 13 years of Aiki practice. Sometimes i think I know what I am doing. Then my strategies are shattered in a weekend of practice.
In some ways frustrating...all these years, and I have learned so little. In some ways inspiring....I now have a string of eager students relishing in the parade of masters showing their perspective magics. I now think I am seen by some teachers as a budding artist...worthy at least of spending a few hours with correcting my ways.
I got to implement my belief in GIFTING. Everyone who walked through the door received t-shirts, calligraphy and teaching. Me and a few of my senior students funded the whole deal. For now I love being able to give the gift, support artists and network. I wanted to show my students that there is more out there than me...and they should seek it.
For New Years my resolution was to find more people who I could call "teacher", and I hope those teachers would learn to call me "friend".
Walk In Peace,