LA Aikikai

One of the things I love about aikido is that I can visit a dojo in whatever strange new city and practise there with little fuss. Well, I'm sure that works with other martial arts as well (challenging the seniors in a new dojo to a sparring session?), but I've always felt welcome and had a really good time in all of my visits. It's kind of my perk whenever I travel. Some may say that you can't gain much from only one or two visits, but I'm keeping O Sensei's advice in mind, to touch 10000 hands to get a feel of the technique, and besides, it's interesting to me to see how different instructors interpret the various techniques. And it's fun lah, I get antsy after no aikido for sometime anyway.

So I have been kinda grumpy the past 2 days (for various reasons), and was contemplating not going for training and watching Wicked instead. The grumpiness was compounded by me waking up this morning with a head full of green snot, and having to blow copious amounts of viscous mucus into TP. Damn you airplanes with your recirculated air!

I found myself crouching in the front of a LA metro bus looking out for roadsigns in the dark, having resigned myself to just reading the Wicked book, before toddling along a unlit street towards the LA Aikikai dojo. And as usual I was very glad to go for training in the end. We started off with some bokken shomen practice, and it's a good thing I've done snatches of iaido! I was reminded of why Aikikai is Aikikai as I went through a continuous, breath-snatching round of kaiten-nage with one of the senior students. You can always be assured of a good workout. Maybe I shouldn't have said I've trained for X years, because, don't give chance one! Was flung around like some rag doll, but I think all the ukemi loosened the snotty mass in my sinuses. Was glad for a change of pace when another student joined in after half an hour (yeah yeah, you don't do aikido to get fit...).

Everyone was amazingly friendly and picked up some interesting pointers. Found out that I tend to twist my upper body while doing the throw in irimi-nage, and was advised to think of the throw as a bokken cut (straight shomen). It's hard to change years of habit! Also a new lock for nikkyo, and a new blending throw for katate dori. The instructor had really solid wrists too! How long must you train to get such wrists? And another nice thing about aikido in the US, is that people are usually amazed to know that I took the bus/MRT/walked long distance to get to the dojo, and would always offer to send me back :), and invite me for beer/supper.

If only this fellowship extends to the upper management. Was asked if I trained with Singapore Aikikai, and found out that the story wasn't anything new or unsurprising. It's kinda sad though, seeing the emphasis on 'Aiki' in the dojo and all.

Definitely will be back if I'm ever in LA again!

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