Seeing as last week I went to visit my first aikido class, this next one was the first class I participated in, and I’m sure its not a dream because my wrists, stomach and back muscles are aching immensely!!! It really is real! And fun as all hell. I was ready to give anything a shot to see how a Japanese aikido class went, and I had a pretty good feeling after watching last week, but I was surprised at really how ideal it was. I decided to tell the sensei that I have had some experience in the martial arts, but none really in aikido, and wasn’t sure of the treatment I’d get. I suppose I expected he’d leave me in the corner to practice the same stance for one week, but he took me step by step until I obviously needed to stop. Which means I was able to blaze through stretching, moving through stances, ukemi (rolling), and three different waza! The sensei is a genuine dude who recognizes a student who is genuinely interested in the art and is there to make ends meet. Beautiful. He is a very kind man indeed, but when he starts moving on the mat with others you can see the air of someone who has thrown many people many times with little effort. There were 13 people at the lesson, all Japanese, and surprisingly a lot of black belts, and certainly a lot of humility. I was pretty nervous when everyone lined up (in seiza) and sensei brought me to the front of the class for an introduction, but everyone was very kind and I ended up (trying) to talk with everyone and getting phone numbers.
As for the order of class, we warmed up together, did beginning excercises, and then most everyone began working on wazas with each other. About every five minutes the class would regroup to show a new waza, then back to work with each other. The sensei spent the first third of class getting me started, and then handed me off to the next in line, a very kind, subtle, but powerful woman who generously showed me a lot of material. I honestly rolled from throws probably 200 times, but had about as many oppurtunities to reciprocate to my partner. The rest of the time the sensei circulated between the students helping where he should.
At 9:00 when the class ended, people walked off the mats towards their gear and I assumed that was it for the night, until I saw everyone reveal their jo’s and approach the mat once again. I was content to watch the spectacle of the aikido jo until someone handed me an extra jo! So of course I jumped in and fumbled around best I could. After 20 minutes of that, class was actually over, and talked with the Sensei about usual class times and costs. There’s about a $100 entrance fee to the class, $70 for a new dogi, $20 for a jo and sword, and after all that, $30 per month, which from what I’ve seen is damn fine with me for 3 nights a week.
With no snags and a great first class, of course my enthusiastic optimism is riding on high, but I feel very good about this group of people.