Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mark your calendars...

Sam "blackbelt" Dressel will be visiting us Thursday September 17th and Monday September 21st.  We are arranging to go out for dinner after class on Thursday the 17th.

Details to follow.

Remember folks, get there while the Hakama is still fresh.  If you wait too long she'll be to good to see her trip!  :)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Appreciate Our Warm-Ups!

For almost 30 years, I have done the traditional warm-ups at the start of our classes. We do those warm-ups to get our bodies ready for practice and to give our minds an opportunity to get present and re-capture the four principles after whatever de-centering experiences we have had in our days. These past weeks I have had an opportunity to appreciate some additional benefits of those rituals.

Some of you are aware that I have been dealing with a leg/hip problem this summer. At some point I realized that soreness was becoming pain and I decided to get an x-ray for some additional perspective. Along with the x-ray came some dismal medical opinions that included ‘moderate arthritis,’ ‘stop running,’ ‘your aikido caused this.’  I didn’t feel these opinions made complete sense, given what I was experiencing in my body. I thanked all, took a few deep breaths and had a physical therapist suggest some exercises. They definitely helped and I was able to attend Camp.

After Camp, I had an opportunity for a session with a body worker I knew in Spokane who added a few more exercises. Funny thing….one of those exercises bore a strange resemblance to ude mawashi. Hmmm. This started me thinking. I began to consider all of the exercises suggested to me in the past few months. I realized that they all bore some sort of relationship to stretches covered in our opening warm-ups.

In 2015, as many of you know, I have had to cut back significantly on my teaching in the Rochester dojo as my husband and I built a second home in Spokane. In January I gave Marcella my Thursday night class. This summer I had to change my teaching status for Saturdays from ‘here are the dates when I can’t teach’ to ‘assume I am not teaching unless I show up.’

So after 30 years of performing those warm ups at least twice and often three times a week,  they had pretty much disappeared from my weekly exercise regiment despite my continued running/walking training. Hmmm. That is a petty drastic change in conditioning training. Could this have set the stage for my current problems?

I will probably never have an answer to that question but I now start each day with our warm-ups/ki exercises. Interestingly, my hip and leg are responding very well. I can feel mini-realignments taking place and movements that caused pain a few weeks ago now just have a residual soreness.

I have a new respect for the value of our warm-ups in my physical conditioning. I strongly feel that over the years they have been a contributing factor in my agility, not just on the mat but off.

So, please, whether you can make it to practice or not, consider taking the time in your daily routine to run through our warm-ups and ki exercises.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Congatulations Marcella Sensei, Yondan

We have just received notice that Sensei Marcella Sarkozy has been promoted to the rank of Yondan (4th degree blackbelt).

Marcella has been an integral part of our dojo for many years and this is a well deserved recognition of her continued growth and dedication to Kokikai.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sweat Equity

August is always a great time for Aikido and for our dojo. We kicked off August with the exhilaration of Sensei and the rest of the Kokikai community coming together for four days of immersive and intensive training.  Then, with just a few short days in between, we get the opportunity to have Sensei here in our dojo along with welcoming several members from the greater Kokikai community to train for another intensive weekend.  These seminars are a crucial part our individual and collective growth as students.  They push us harder than we normally train, for longer hours, and with people's bodies that we aren't familiar with from thousands of throws and falls throughout the year.  All this under the watchful eye of Sensei as he provides guidance and helps us improve the quality of our principles and technique.

Now, not even half way into the month, we enter a phase where we try to internalize and process all that we saw and felt as both uke and nage.  It sparks healthy debate on how to lead, to move, to be still, and how to feel.

I grew up near Philadelphia.  Summers are as hot and sticky as our winters are cold and snowy, August was always unbearable.  If you didn't notice how drenched you were in sweat, the rhythmic sound of the locusts in the trees is always there to add insult to injury as their song rises with the mercury.  In Rochester, however, August seems to usher in a break in the heat.  The weather was absolutely perfect for our Seminar.  Being in the high 70s made every bead of sweat that much more earned. 

I want everyone to cash in on all the hard work of the past couple of weeks and we should double our efforts to be in class such that we can collectively work on all the nuances and tips we have experienced and integrate them.  Summer is always big for vacations and events, so consider going on another night if such things disrupt your schedule.  Also consider going to extra classes this month to see other people you may not normally see and find out what they saw and felt.  The sharpness of our experiences fades quickly with the passage of times so don't let any of this spark escape you!  And as I mentioned above, no, it's not that hot.  :)

Finally in August, we get to cash in on years of sweat equity in the form of rank promotions.  This summer we had the pleasure of seeing three of our own test at camp plus many old friends test as well.  Please join me in congratulating those that have worked with such dedication to show that they have earned their new ranks.

1st Kyu:
Kerman Bharucha
Andrew Robertson

Samantha Dressel

I'd also like to extend our congratulations to Tara Liddell (1st Kyu) and Natan Krishchenko (Shodan) from our sister dojo, Eastern Sky.  Also to our (formally) very own Alfred Lee who tested for Nidan.  Alfred started his Aikido career in our RIT class and now practices with Dennis Embert Sensei in Silicon Valley.

Like Alfred and many others before, Rochester is sending yet another Aikidoka out in to the world.  Samantha, with her shiny new black belt, is settling near Los Angeles with her new husband.  She is in the good company of our friends Sanpisa and Greg where they are working to build the next entry into the growing directory of Kokikai dojos.  We certainly look forward to having yet another dojo to visit!