Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gojo Ryu 1

This is week two in the big city and my enthusiasm for Aikido got a short side-step when they cancelled classes for Martin Luther King day. So my friend of many years (who I think participated in my brown belt test) talked me into trying out a free Gojo Ryu class instead.

We showed up early and got to meet our instructor. My buddy showed his normal annoying trait of not asking the correct questions. For instance, "Can we participate in class tonight?" turned into "Hi, I was wondering about Gojo Ryu and stuff." Urgh.

The class was lead in a very traditional Japanese style, but the floor was hardwood and seiza was brutal. Everything about the dojo screamed Okinawa and had all their pedigree out for everyone to see. The backwall was covered with makiwari and forearm weights. The other walls had tons of black and white photos of instructors in Okinawa doing all sorts of exercises with arcane gear.

Me and Greyhound shared the class with four kids and one teenager and got a quick introduction into the class. We got to shout "Oos" a lot and learned a huge amount of Japanese (about 10 words). Mostly stances, strikes and direction. Certainly more than what my class has.

As we went through the stances I got a huge flashback from two aspects of my martial arts history. The first was more recent. Teacher Slim used to have us do Sanchin, which to me was a very specific routine of foot works and strikes. Sure enough Gojo Ryu is all about sanchin! I couldn't help but inwardly giggle as one of the blackbelts corrected my stance.

After doing that we had to learn all the basic stances which really blew my mind. I took Wing Chun in 1981 or 2 and remember a lot of the basic stuffs and here I was a million years later doing the back foot stances and settling into the shallow-chested, rolled back stance from back in the day. Toes in, toes out and then toes back in and knees slightly in. Man, I was tripping hardcore in a martial arts class.

One stance I had never before was "shige" I think. A deep horse stance with the toes pointed out. I was concerned about my knees as always, but this stance was incredibly comfortable to me. What a nice surprise when so much of the stuff we normally do kills me.

When we practiced the strikes I was caught off guard about how little emphasis was put onto form. Our home class is about doing stuff so correctly to avoid bad habits, but I was in a class with kids so maybe that had something to do with it.

All in all a really fun class. A great change, but it told me how much I miss Wing Chun and how much we all study really goes back to China. Weird. I think this means that I've studying long enough now that everything can be seen to have connections. Wild

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