Day Six – Wednesday
Tim and I start the day by attending to the Shomen.
We have almost a full day before evening classes. So we go shopping. We head out to a local mall and find Sensei Bernice a sun hat. You can tell how important Tim considers Sensei by how much deliberation was put into looking for the right hat. Hat in hand we head back to OB.
At OB the street market is starting up. I think of Kay, knowing that she would have LOVED to experience the market.
We grab some lunch and start shopping for our families. T-shirts, shells, and other brick-a-brack in tow we grab a coffee and hang until time to head back to the dojo for my final classes of the trip.
The beginners class went over the basics. First seven jo suburi. Rolls, Falls, footwork (two-step, irimi, tenkan), Shomen Uchi Ikkyo through Nikkyo, Morote Dori Kokyu Ho.
Let me say that when it comes to morote dori kokyu ho I had never been thrown as hard as I had by Sensei Tim. That is until I pair up with Shunsuke. Shunsuke has a POWERFUL throw. My first fall I am not prepared and take a good noggin smack on the mat. Oh, what glorious wonderful mats they are. After shaking the stars from my vision I approach for the second throw. This time I have the wherewithal to lead the throw. Still not good enough. Much later after the advanced class is done I ask Eric how to handle such powerful throws. He shows me a “cheater” step with a fall to the opposite side that I am going to investigate some more.
In advanced class Sensei Bernice introduces us to a number of morote dori kokyu ho henka. How to handled when someone winds your arm into your side, same but with a wrist grab, two people holding you above the floor with arms akimbo (like a scare crow), and one with only one arm being held out with elbow pointing high. My favorite was the two person grab. You basically get a bit of a tilt going then fall back.
A highlight of the class for me was getting a chance to practice my first swariwaza (knee techniques). I partnered up with a fellow named Dan. I am guessing he was a 2nd or 1st KYU. Dan knew his swariwaza and I was able to perform Ikkyo through Sankyo off of yokoman uchi strikes. As with any first time effort it was not graceful, but because I knew these moves from a standing position I was able to adapt in a reasonable amount of time.
Carl and I perform two rounds of jiyu waza. Free form sparing is exhausting. I am still working on my breathing techniques… But after just two 2-3 minute sessions I am out of breath and tired.
Instead if changing out of my wet gi I stay around and watch the full sho-dan practice test. It is amazing how much of this test I have had exposure to over the last year and a half. Watching the aikidoka take the test is an eye opener, and it makes me want to get to that point so bad I can taste it. As Sensei Tim says in his kids taekwondo classes: patience.
The next day is my drive to LA and flight back to Atlanta. It is also the same day that many of the uchi deshi, including Tim, are going to be driving to Lake Tahoe. The queue for the washer/dryer is long. The locals indicate that if I want to be sure to get to LAX in time for my flight I will want to leave at 5:30am.
Tim, Eric, Christina, Adrian, and I stay up. We drink Adrian’s beer and talk Aikido, look up each others names in the urban dictionary, and in general just have a good time hanging out. While we were talking I pulled up my twitter app and see that Kay has posted a picture of Eli graduating. I was training so hard earlier that evening that I totally forgot that my son was dressed up in his graduation gown. I am very happy that Kay and my mom were there for his special day. I finish my laundry and get to sleep at 2:30am.
Day Seven – Thursday
5:30 am (San Diego) – to 10:30pm Atlanta
The only major point of note is that when I was dropped off at my car in the Park-in-ride at ATL the driver put me on the wrong car. After hiking the full length of the row I find Zippy and start to load my bags. That was when I realized I had left the bag with all my Aikido equipment (gi, pads, shoes) on the bus. I hop in the car and speed down the rows. I was able to cut the bus off at the exit to get my bag. *whew*
I get home, hug my wife, and kiss a sleeping Eli. All is right in the world.