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These okie weirdos

by on June 19, 2015

By my third year at Vassar I felt I had had a fairly deep immersion into the aikido world. I had a year of top-notch instruction from Shishida sensei, I had trained with two clubs in Japan, and I had met most of the New York and Ohio contingents. While I had not met any of the California crowd, I had heard plenty of stories.

In the fall of my senior year I traveled to my first international tournament, where I met the legendary Bob Dziubla and the up and coming Konaka Junji, then watched the Wolput siblings sweep the podium. I had seen, for all intents and purposes, the entire Tomiki aikido world.


Well except apparently there were a few weirdos in Texas who followed some crazy judo guy. But they were off in their own world, a sort of lost Tomiki tribe. Nobody was going to have anything to do with them.

Until now.

Last Thursday I boarded a plane for some really foreign travel. Forget Narita, I was headed to Oklahoma City.

Then something weird and entirely anticlimactic happened. I showed up in the dojo and started shaking hands with people who I only knew from Facebook and YouTube. I had never met any of these people, and yet I felt right at home almost immediately. I knew who they were, they knew who I was, and we spoke the common language of connection.

(Aside: want to sound like an expert? Take your partner’s arm, gently shake it, and say “relax”.)

(The sad thing is, it’s advice I still need…)

OK, it’s getting late and I should say a bit about the actual seminars.

It was an interesting format with each instructor taking a regular slot for three days running.

On Friday I found myself connecting most to Eric and Brendan’s material (Daito Ryu and Aikido), probably in large part because it was more familiar. Crashing judo waves and spinning ropes were interesting, but mostly curiosities for me. But somehow by Sunday these unfamiliar (and off the wall!) topics were burrowing themselves into my subconscious. I still probably couldn’t do a proper foot sweep to save my life, but I’m going to be taking much closer look at homeostatic balance-seeking vibrations.

Rope swinging might have been a bit of a gimmick to get people’s attention, but on the third day Jason Mix tied the little circle motions into practical applications in a really interesting way, and in a way that, at least in my body, echoed Patrick Parker’s earlier lesson.

To paraphrase Brendan Hussey, I’m coming away from these seminars with a lot to chew on.

There’s a lot more I could say about this incredible experience – if I wasn’t concerned about getting some sleep before the Ikeda sensei seminar tomorrow.

One way or another though, there will be more to come.

These okie weirdos are onto something.

From → Quick hit

  1. It was great meeting you! We had a lot of fun. I didn’t realize this was your first clinic. Wait until these crazy people become your adopted family. Then, your head will really spin. Ha ha! I hope our paths cross again, sooner rather than later. Until next time…

  2. P.S. Did you know Karl was from Oklahoma before he was from Texas?…

  3. It was great meeting you in person, finally. Like it or not, I’m fairly certain you’re already considered family at this point, which suits most of us just fine, because you’re alright…

    ..for a “Yankee”. 😉

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