Sunday, November 08, 2009

Back on the Mat

(Me training outside in Reno in October 2004)

After more than a year hiatus, I returned to the dojo to train in earnest and watch a nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt) test. I also was able to see the new dojo for the first time, and it is truly awesome.

It felt good to launch some people and scream while swinging a heavy stick at people for an hour. My nerves are still tingling from feeling totally alive out on the mat. As I have taken my place in my new life in Front Royal, I felt I duly took my place in the new dojo, which had been inaugurated by the visit of Saito Hitohiro Sensei from Iwama Japan two weeks ago. It was really just amazing to be a part of this place and be standing in the fulfillment of many, many long hours of planning and hard work.

For those of you who don't know, back in May 2002 I joined Aikido in Fredericksburg as an enthusiastic and devoted young martial artist, aspiring to be the embodiment of martial grace and strength gleaned from long hours of hard training. My sensei had only recently moved from Reno, where he was sensei of many years, to Fredericksburg, VA, with the intention of building a world-class dojo on his own property with quarters for uchi-deshi (live-in students) and plenty of space besides for training. An East Coast Iwama headquarters, if you will.

I followed the group from the time it rented a dusty corner dojo as part of a quasi-martial arts co-op in a deserted mini-mall, training once in the parking lot at night because someone had locked the door. To training in a moldy big box gymanistics stadium/roller rink, which had the most irritating boom box music playing for the pom-pom group.

To retrofitting an industrial complex into a serious albeit temporary training space, which is where I took my black belt test. Indeed, I had always wanted to be a part of the core group of a dojo start up, and this dream of mine, like so many others, was realized.

My life then moved away from active Aikido training for awhile, but today I know my training and presence in the new dojo was my re-initiation to the serious study of the martial ways. I won't be down there often enough to sign up for a monthly membership, but often enough that I can begin to hone my own skills and take the journey to nidan myself in a couple of years and to places beyond.

I am looking forward to it and some better health in the process.

Over and Out,



Bridget said...

Glad you're back in action! That's a great picture, by the way!

Nick-dog said...

Thanks! It feels good to train.


Martin Schap said...

Sweet. Too many gun guys, preppers, etc. are lacking in the physical realm. Glad to see you are taking steps to guarantee that you can take care of yourself and your girls. Martial arts seem to me to be the total package, since you gain both physical fitness and the ability to fight. I need to start some kind of fight training, but around here it is expensive and inconvenient.

Nick-dog said...

"Civilize the mind, make savage the body," so said a dude on a gun board.

The best thing about training, if you train somewhere cool (IMO) is that you learn to adopt a level of situational awareness that you can take with you everywhere. Awareness on the mat translates to awareness in life, if one trains seriously.

Well, I hope you find something fun and convenient to hone your skills. And something that works for you.

I don't think I could ever escape the call of the mat. It's just awesome to be out there.