i started aikido on the weekend the following is my account of the experience of the first class:
I arrive at the community centre to begin my first lesson, entering into the mens change room i observe a plethora of benches and gravitate towards the coloured one, later to my dismay i realize it is pink, luckily i am comfortable with my sexuality enough to remain situated at the only coloured bench in the otherwise white room. I begin to put on my gi when 2 gentlemen enter, gangly 30 year olds, slightly smug and giving off an a kind of 'i am a pseudo-enlightened IT professional who does aikido on the weekend to make up for my obvious difficulties with the female of the species'; or so was the creeping thought in the back of my mind, of course i allowed it to pass and not to hinder my experience. So i greeted the gentlemen and exclaimed that this was my first class, i put the top half of the gi on and folded it left over right, one of the gentlement interluded and said 'it goes left over right' he then chuckled and said 'its only put the other way if your dead actually' then both men chuckled, to which i responded with a half hearted 'ha ha yes', a few moments later a gaunt cadaverish mid to late 20 something walked in, i pegged him for a scorpio on account of his 'i am darkly enlightened and a master of aikido, when i come here everyone knows im the ****, not like in high school where i was regularly beat upon by taekwondoka'; again i allowed this subjective conjecture to subside and made my way out of the change room to assist placing the mats. After the mats were placed warm up excercises began, i had difficulty keeping with the rhythem but seemed to be more flexible than these 8 year trained aikidoists (the class by the way consists of almost all black and brown belts in their mid 30's). I being a white belt at my first class felt slightly intimidating although i felt this feeling would subside with the gregarious nature of aikido i have read about, art of peace and all that, but alas everytime i made eye contact with any of the 'practitioners' i had the overwhelming feeling that they felt in some way superior to me, they would kind of give a pittying smile to me and turn to one another and kind of smirk at my uncultivated wasted existence i was living before i graced myself with the divine experience of the community hall dojo. This was the kind of arrogance that is exhibited by the jaundiced-minded sweater-vested conservative political science major who keeps a plastic wrapped signed copy of the Karl Rove issue of Time magazine on his person at all times and boasts of his future as a conservative strategist walking in the glorious footsteps of said architect of misery. Onward into the excercises i was taken aside, so as not to disturb the rhythem of the others and shown the varying movements and such, which i picked up rather quickly without the subtle essence of judgement coming from the nearby aikido masters. Afterwards i was shown some breakfalls, kind of groovy i thought, a nice work out to continuously throw myself to the ground like a homosexual judoka...anyways after a few breakfalls which left me dizzy and slightly elated like a mild psilocybin buzz, i was taught my first technique, which was what to do if i am standing stationary and some walks up and grabs my wrist...interesting because usually i thought i would just not let them touch my wrist by simply using my mystical ki abilities and pulling my arm towards the back of my body via a mild rotation of the shoulder and acute angle bend at the elbow...i was told that this was an inappropriate response and that instead i was to swing my arm around in a circle causing the opponent to go flying head over heels into a nice breakfall...first the technique was demonstrated on me, to which i made no movement because i didn't experience any sort of force, i was told that i was 'supposed to fall' in such and such a way (i couldnt remember the japanese terms for the variant hand positions) when such and such a technique was applied, so i obeyed and suddenly with a simple flick of the wrist i was being tossed around quite readily. I was shown a few more interesting techniques which involved what seemed to me to be over elaborite spinning and complexities that could have been done without, but it was all in the name of getting the 'feeling' for the techniques. This made sense to me, until i saw the black belts dancing with each other in the same way...hmm i thought why would the opponent throw themselves to the ground in such a way instead of say resisting? or just pulling their hand away? or maybe jabbing in the first place instead of grabbing the wrist. Interesting i thought, aikido it seemed was not the stuff that Ueshiba and Nico made it out to be (I was also told it was 'improper' to push down the elbow as well as hold the wrist to the ground, even though it gives more leverage and causes a quicker submission) I suspended this judgement because i felt i must have been missing something, the class began to wind down, the instructor had the class gather about to demonstrate some '??cookie-oh-endo's??' and did the same techniques i was shown only against a black belt student with a bokken...I observed the student timing his 'attack' in accordance with the readiness of the instructor and how he kind of jumped into the technique the same as i had earlier. This to me was the moment i realized that i could probably have more fun dancing at a rave high on an assortment of chemicals than in the rigid sterility of structured soul manifestation that apparently was aikido, but the real clincher came when the instructor began some kind of moral aside which began with: "years ago when i was doing a non-practical martial art, taekwondo" at which moment i stopped listening to what he was saying and just thought through the fallacies of the statement. which i broke down as the following:
practical martial art=functional martial art
functional=attack and defense
functionality however is not equatable to dancing, dancing isn't combat, no matter how awkward and strange the dance form is, it is not combat, although dance may help one gain perspective of balance, weight shifting, and the flow of the body etc. but still not combat. It seemed as though these soft joint locks could be learned in a few weeks and mastered in a few months, if the dancing aspect was minimalized, they would be a great addition to my little bjj experience, but i might as well just continue bjj and master those techniques instead of having to unlearn Nico's dance routines. Luckily i paid for 3 months in advance without taking a test class first, because apparently this was 'practical aikido' as the ad said...Now i understand that however aikido is taught now, this is definetly not the way Ueishiba learned to throw opponents around and pin wrestlers to the ground with 1 finger. Although i was attracted to the spiritual aspect i can say that regardless of the style of art be it soft/hard external/internal ground/striking the spiritual aspect comes from tinside the individual not from the way he dances and pretends he is manifesting the 'way'. Some part of me would like to get my money back, some part of me would like to go back half cut and throw some simple takedowns and armbars on the sinister eyed scorpio, but another part of me (the part that sits on pink benches) would rather let these people live their lives believing they are masters of space and time, divine manipulators of causality who manifest the way in all its guises and transmit the esoteric knowledge of O'sensei and Nico to us; the unenlightened masses who have yet to be graced by the magnificence and splendor that is the harmonizing way. I guess what im trying to say is that its funny to think of one of those smug bastards getting knocked the **** out at an office christmas party after 1 too many peppermint schnapp's gets them talking smack to the mailboy who doesn't take too kindly (being as though hes a boxer) to being told that his strikes are easily nullified by the graceful joint locks of our hypothetical antagonist. "Yokomenuchi strikes no problem!"