Lauren In Tokyo

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Summer in Seattle

It's been such a long time since I last wrote. After the March 11 earthquake I've just not felt the desire to blog too much or even do any gardening since then. But I can't mope around forever, you know?

In the past year Julian joined Aikido and to motivate him I joined up also. In Urayasu we have the luxury of having the top Yoshinkan Aikido teacher living just down the street. Ando shihan runs his dojo just a short 10-minute bike ride away from our house, so instead of joining a karate or jujutsu class with a barely-qualified instructor, we chose to go with aikido. Getting over my prejudice against Aikido was probably the hardest part of that decision.

Julian will be taking his 8th kyu test next weekend and I'm going to sit out my 5th kyu test this summer because I'm actually out of the country. He'll be able to pass the test without any problem, I am confident. His aikido has gotten very good over the past year, especially since we put him in the class 3 days a week.

For work, I am actually in Seattle for a few months. Unfortunately there are no Yoshinkan dojos in the immediate area. There are a few aikido dojos around, notably George Ledyard sensei's AikiEast Dojo which is actually pretty close by where I am on the Eastside. However, the aikido he practices is called Aikikai. Aikikai is to Yoshinkan what Catholicism is to Eastern Orthodox. As a relative beginner I would prefer not to mix styles.

The remaining choice is a dojo almost 150 miles away in Burnaby, Canada. Led by Robert Mustard shihan, Burnaby Yoshinkai is a sort of mecca for aikidoists in North America. He is the infamous hard-assed teacher at the center of Robert Twigger's Angry White Pyjamas. A student under Yoshinkan kancho Gozo Shioda sensei and the fearsome Takafumi Takeno sensei, Mustard-sensei is a 7th dan aikido master. His teaching credentials go way back to the Yoshinkan hombu dojo where he was an instructor of the Tokyo riot police aikido program.

This is a trip I am looking forward to make to visit his dojo and train with him this summer. I have received the necessary warnings that he is a tough, strong teacher and to be careful not to get injured.

Warnings acknowledged, I'm on my summer journey.

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