My last night. I was extremely tired and really was thinking about going to bed early, but I needed to get motivated and get to the dojo if for no other reason than to pay for my classes.
In that vein I called Greyhound to see if he was going to the Gojo Ryu class just see if he could motivate me to go to two different classes in one night. He had a presentation so I was right out.
I drug myself out and got there early to watch the kids class which is an entertainment in itself. There was youngster who insisted that she was not sucking her thumb all the while plopping her thumb in her mouth whenever sensei turned his head. He knew it was going on making the few onlookers teeter with stifled giggling.
Sensei seemed to be speaking louder so I had an easier time understanding what was being said and it also meant that I didn’t have to lean over, struggling to understand what he was saying. I was under the impression that leaning over the kneeling line was frowned upon, but I couldn't hear anything if I didn't. Sensei is a very quiet spoken, 6th degree black belt who imparts lessons concisely. As one of the Nidans told me, “his gift is that he knows what to tell you and when to do it.” I was the recipient of this over and over. Just a simple correction of the placement of the arm or correction of center and I was instantly better.
That evening’s class placed an emphasis on taking Uke’s balance via a very minute correction from myself (as the Nage). I really had a hard time believing it, but it was immediately shown to me that it was valid. I was partnered with a 5 foot, 60 year old woman (in Hakima’s – I should have known) whom which I had both hands around her forearm. Through settled her stance and moving a finger she had me moving into a throw position. I think she was literally only half my weight. Unfortunately, I left bruises on her arm. That made me feel uncomfortable.
I mentioned before that the degree of theatricality that seems to accompany Uke’s intended fall makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m not totally over it even on a good day, but getting thrown by a little old lady certainly did lend credence that there discomfort in some positions. If I'm going all in on a hold I'm going to pay a price.
I partnered with a rather bulky guy and my height seemed to put him into a relatively difficult position to which he’d have to dance to get around me. When he’d grunt or make some other noise I’d immediately back off and give him space which would disrupt the exercise and really throw things off. He said, “dude, if it’s really hurting me I’ll roll out – just go through the whole move.” I’ll try. I’ll try.
Finally I get partnered with a guy that’s fully 6’ 5” and about 300 pounds. He was by far the most dramatic of the bunch, but at least he would talk a bit. In retrospect I think that’s what I found so frustrating. The absolute minimum of chatter at all times. I realize that is what is expected, but I’m really from a different mid set.
After class I asked the folks if they socialized together (since I felt rather ostracized) and they reported that some did and some didn’t. It depended on age or if they had family. No clear group whereas my class makes pains to be inclusive at the very least during the class.
In the end I realized that the sense of community was very important to me, but the quality of the teaching was excellent. It was definitely better to come the class with no prior knowledge as I keep dissecting instead of absorbing. Probably a better person would have a better experience. I’d go back though just because there seemed to be something more to learn right around the corner.