Showing posts from August, 2010

The key to the dojo

I don't know how it works at your dojo, but at Windsong Dojo, there has always been a policy that everyone ranked shodan or above (or yudansha) is given a key to the dojo.

You see, there are no teachers assigned to teach given classes. Here, whichever person attending class that day has the highest rank by default leads that class. In many cases, that's usually the same person, but not always. And many times, the regular class leader won't be able to make it, which means someone else will have to run the show. And as long as a black belt is present, class can be held.

So, rather than have a bunch of students standing around outside waiting for one or two people to show up, each black belt has a key to let everyone in. It's an amazing display of trust on the part of the dojo cho that, as far as I know, has yet to be broken or abused.

The other week, we promoted a student to shodon in our morning aikido class. He now has a key, and being an early riser, no longer has to…

Lessons from junior high

On the radio this morning, a DJ was asking listeners to call in and share some valuable life lessons they learned in school growing up, since today is, for most kids, the first day of the new school year. I didn't call in, but I started thinking, what did I learn from a teacher?

I don't know that I remember a whole lot of what I actually studied. Even the experiences that the DJ himself recalled had nothing to do with classwork; just solid advice from a teacher to a student. But one piece of advice I got actually had to do with the class, but it has definitely applied to much more than that since.

When I was in junior high, I played the saxophone in the symphonic band. We were working on a particularly challenging piece of music, but there was one short refrain that the whole saxophone section was having trouble with.

Our teacher, Mr. King, told us to go home and practice just those couple of measures. When doing so, he wanted us to do three things:

1) Play them very, very sl…

Been missing my budo

My wife had her tonsils removed last week (third surgery this year, after a c-section and a hernia!), so I've spent my mornings getting the kids ready and taking them to various friends who have been kind enough to watch them while Amy recuperates. Which means, of course, I haven't done any budo, and boy am I missing it.

I've sure been thinking about it, though. What have I been thinking about? Lots of stuff, really...

In aikido:

Aikido hand change drillsNot just the "wave" but the "undercurrent"The shiho nage / mae otoshi entryFinally demonstrating the sections of san kata & yon kata I've been working on with Scott

In judo:

No-gi nage komi / ne wazaCertain throws no one seems to know very wellMore about the "undercurrent"Forms of morote gariLots of ground work

The only problem is, deciding what to play with first when I get back!

Promotions galore

It's been a busy couple of days in the morning class. We had a shodan demonstration yesterday in aikido and then in judo today, we handed out a yonkyu and a sankyu. This morning's judo class in particular was a pretty fast-paced affair =) Let's just say I like to run the boys through the ringer when it comes time for judo promotions [cackles evilly]. (Okay, truth be told, I never turned up the volume quite as much as I might normally, but we still got a lot done).

Rank demonstrations in both arts are always interesting and for a variety of reasons.

Everyone's different
For example, with the aikido shodan demo, the uke was over 40 and the ikkyu demonstrating was over 50. Yet, while neither are exactly spring chickens, I'm always surprised at what someone can accomplish at any stage in life. I was proud of both of them for their skill and commitment.

The two judo advancements, meanwhile, came from a couple of young fellows. I'm amazed at how quickly the younger s…