Posted by: yoko | March 13, 2006


“If I can do it, you can do it.” ~Maruyama-sensei

I went to Winter Camp for aikido this past weekend. I had a great time. I couldn’t stop smiling. For the most part, I felt strangely calm until right before my test– and uncontrollably happy. I don’t even know why– I can’t put my finger on it right now. Maybe I’ll figure it out later, after I’ve processed the whole experience.

My freestyle against four people was just– fun. Maybe too much fun. It’s a luxury to have so much room to manuever on the mat at camp, as opposed to the smaller space at our dojo. It’s all a blur to me right now– I’ll have to look at the playback and see what I did, and to whom.

At one point at camp, I worked with a relatively new person from our dojo– we were doing a technique called nikkyo, in which the formal finish can be a little difficult to explain when you’re lying down on the mat. I told her that I’d explain the finish “when we get home.” She was so tickled that I called our dojo home that I had to laugh. The people in my dojo continue to be wonderful– they’ve come to be my second family, full of support and compassion and good humor.

I always manage to meet a few people from other dojos who are interesting and insightful, which is great too. And the more I learn aikido, the more I realize how much more there is to learn, and it is an ever-evolving journey in which I learn about life through my body and mind.

I realize that I’m sounding incoherent, so I’ll close with an anecdote our head instructor told us a while back. When the instructor was a still a student, she knew a very focused fellow dojo member (aikidoka) who was intent on learning all the aikido that he could from the founder of our style. One day, before the founder was to return to Japan, the aikidoka asked if there was anything he needed to work on while the sensei was gone. Sensei replied, “You need more spring.”

Puzzled by what Sensei had meant by that, the aikidoka asked other members of the dojo was spring was, and they didn’t know. Sensei had told him that the others around him had spring, and he had lacked it. So the aikidoka diligently trained, trying to discover what spring was.

When Sensei returned to the dojo, the aikidoka was so eager to find out whether he had attained spring, and asked him right away, “Well, Sensei, what do you think? Do I have spring now?”

Sensei replied, “What the hell is spring?”

I’m 1st-kyu now. I’m so looking forward to training for black belt.


  1. Congratulations on reaching 1st kyu.
    Glad you had (too much) fun.

  2. Rock on Yoko! I too like freestyles – I’m just up to two ukes so far, and enjoy the stimulation and chance to do my fav moves. . . (except of course for the days where I forget how to do Aikido)

    In any event, good job!

  3. Happy 1st kyu!

  4. Congratulations, Mistress! Four people? Holy shit! And you’re almost a black belt now… wow. You’re amazing. Your slave is so in awe of you.

  5. Omedetou Yoko! :)

  6. Congrats! And as long as nobody limps home half-blind, there’s no such thing as too much fun.

  7. wow training for black belt. so exciting! congratulations on your progress and fun.

  8. Thanks very much, everyone!

  9. Congratulations for your test.
    If you are interested to participate in a seminar, our dojo is hosting this weeked a three day seminar with Andrew Sato, former Head Instructor of AAA, under Toyoda Sensei.
    You can find our Dojo location in the web site I sent (
    I very much enjoy your Blog, your interest in Japanese culture and Aikido. Since we seem to live near by I would love to chat once in a while, or if you prefer, I invite you to visit our Interactive Forum and post some messages.
    I’m very interested in explore Aikido as Zen, or Zen as Aikido, and Budo as both of them. No idea where this would go, but sometimes the storyteller inside you guides you to certain paths.


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