Sunset Cliffs Aikido Dojo – Day One and Two

My first two days in San Diego at the Sunset Cliffs Aikido Dojo ;tldr; rules apply.

I am tweeting as much as possible using the hashtag #SDAIKIDOTRIP.

Day 1: Travel

The plan for Friday was to get up early, pick up Sensei Tim and be on an airplane by 6:15 bound for San Diego (via Denver).

First time in my life I have missed a flight. For some reason neither Tim nor I had the proper mindset of “we could miss this flight” and as a result we allowed enough little things slow us down that we missed the first leg by 4 minutes. We are not the only folks to miss this flight. In addition to ourselves there was the:

– Middle Aged couple rolling with the punches.
– Emotionally challenged young lady that missed her best friends graduation.
– Baby momma, with baby and a load of stuff in tow.
– Quiet war veteran.

It was also the first time I had a bag that weighted too much. I had to shed 7 lbs (two pairs of shoes creatively crammed and the video camera put in my computer bag) to be able to check my mammoth of a suitcase.

Tim and I spent a good bit of time getting to know gates D and C at Atlanta international airport. We were “standby” on the next flight to Denver which was scheduled for 3:55pm.  For those math folks out there, a good eight plus hours later.  As it got closer to our departure time we were reminded several times by the helpful folks at Frontier Airlines that this flight was full. For most folks waiting this helped them plan how to deal with their oversized carry-ons.  For Tim and it just felt like they were rubbing it in.  Fifteen minutes before the scheduled departure time standby passengers were announced.  Several names including mine were called.  Sensei’s was not. I explained as nicely as I could that “Jones” could not fly without “Pritchard”. She asked me to wait a few moments, looked around and then called out, “Now boarding Jones, Pritchard!”  *whew*

Very quick layover in Denver. Tim and I grab some drinks at the bar while waiting. My iPod was low so I plugged it in for a quick sip of vitamin-Electricity.  Our flight calls for boarding, grab stuff and head to the play.  I get ready to sit down, feel for my iPod and realized it is not in pocket. I ask the stewardess if I may disembark to get my “phone”.  She asks the pilot and he responds in the negative.  However he then does something amazing.  He asks me how close it is and what it looks like. He then exists the plane.  Less than 3 minutes later he is back on board with iPod and charger in hand.  Honestly, BEST PILOT EVER!!!  Oh, and the flight from Denver to Los Angeles was nicely done.

By the time we arrived in LA our baggage was waiting for us. Seems our “fishing bag” made it through TSA without issue.  The guy in the baggage claim area asked “those aren’t billiards cue’s are they?”.  I responded that they were “walking sticks”.  He gave me one of those “uh huh”s and we laughed.

8:45 (timezone is up to the reader to figure out) and we are finally in our rental driving from LA to San Diego.  The next 45 minutes are filled trying to find a place to eat.  Tim and I start out picky, and end up almost eating at “Gammy’s”.  Instead we have dinner at Charlies Best Burgers.  Ends up Charlie also makes good mexican.

I could write several entire posts on HWY-5 traffic at 11:00pm between LA and San Diego.  Sufficient to say it was impressive.  I fear for the drive back next Thursday.

Checked into the Heritage Inn at 11:30 p.m. Asleep by midnight.  We have been up for 19 hours.  Yay sleep.

Day 2: First Day of Training

Tim and I wake up at 6am, get our gear, and head out to Sunset Cliffs. Grab breakfast at the Old Townhouse Restaurant (good food). Get to the dojo and a flurry of introductions prior to the 8am class.  Meet many of the Uchi Deshi including Carl, Eric, Nick, Shunsuke, and Christine.

Thats right folks, Aikido at 8am.  I LOVE IT!!  For those following that want to pass the quiz at the end of this post please refer to the Sunset Cliffs Aikido Class Schedule.

Class started with a Jo lesson. We covered the Jo Suburi and Kumijos 8 and 9.  I was given a few corrections by Sensei:
– When holding my Jo in Tsuki Kemea keep my back elbow bent at 90 degrees and the Jo straight and above my waist. (I should NOT have needed this reminder, but it was correct and timely.)

The Tijitsu class covered Morote Dori and all its variants.  Carl, one of the Uchi Deshi (live in studends), was a pleasure to work with on the standard Morote Dori Kokyu Ho.  I performed Jui Waza with Shunsuke to end the class.  I can say that without the last five months of condition and strength training I would not have made it through the first bout.  It felt great to be able to make it through both a weapons and taijutsu classes. My corrections for this class was instruction from Sensei on how I should better take Ukemi for Taino Henko, I have been going “balls on feet” to keep connection. Instead I should be lowering my center and turning my back into the hold.  I must keep my balance at all costs, and my previous method did not help that.  Another correction was that during the Morote Dori grab I was NOT to strike at Nage.

Right after class I see Sensei Bernice talking with Sensei Tim. A few moments later Tim asks me how I would feel about staying at the Dojo for the rest of our stay.  While he is asking me I can hear Sensei Bernice indicating that we need to call the hotel quickly as we do not want to be charged for another night.  It really is an honor and nice that I can spend a week in a place that is so special to Tim.  The vibe here is amazing and I am very much looking forward to the experience.  All the Uchi Deshi are nice and have been very gracious in accepting us into their home.

I had lunch with Sensei Bernice, Sempai Ben, and Sensei Tim at Ranchos.  The owner are long time friends of Sensei Bernice and Ben. The food was great and it was a pleasure to see Tim catch up with Sensei.

I got to see Kay and Eli on a Facetime call using my iPod and the Dojo WiFi. I love this future we live in where I can see my family half way across the country and still be able to do something that I love at the same time!

Later in the day Tim and I hit South Beach Bar and Grill (where Tim was a door man during his days as Uchi Deshi). We had shrimp stuffed jalapeno poppers and a mahi fish taco. Amazing. Seeing as how we are still only six hours of sleep off of the previous day, we decide to imbibe a bit. Check out the twitter link and look for “Before” and “After”.    I can say that Aikido practice while a bit tipsy does wonders for one’s ukemi.

A nights sleep and…..

Sunset Cliffs Aikido Dojo – Day Three


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