On this Friday night I looked forward into attending a class taught by Hayato Osawa Sensei. He has a family background in Aikido, just like Doshu. Hayato Osawa Sensei's father, Kisaburo Osawa, was a long time student of O-Sensei, and one of the earliest teachers at Honbu Dojo. I decided to see what Osawa's beginner's class would be like, knowing it would be less crowded than the others on a Friday night.
It was the best class I have been to since I got here. I went into the dojo tonight feeling very frustrated with some of the classes, but Osawa's class made me feel more at home. The mat area was smaller and the class was smaller. It had a more intimate setting and feel to it.
Osawa starts out every class with tai no henko. Believe it or not, not many senseis have done that here. Right away he comes up to me and helps me on my ukemi. Osawa Sensei is the most verbal of all the senseis that I have seen here thus far, and explains what he is doing as he is doing it. Of course that does not do me much good - my Japanese is horrible. He asked me in Japanese if I could speak Nihon. I just smiled and said, "Nononono." He also smiled, very laid back, and did the best he could do by just showing me. But it was very frustrating for him. He must have liked my ukemi somewhat because he called me up twice to be his uke. That was cool. I was nervous and way too anxious. I was so excited that no matter how hard I tried to "chill out" I still over-commited my attack. But it was an honor to be asked up twice.
After Osawa Sensei's class I decided to skip Doshu's class upstairs, and attend one more Osawa class. For the first time I felt like I was in a 'class'. I felt at home. That feeling did not last too long., Right after my last class of the night, I stayed on the mat hoping to practice with someone, but was kicked off because a private class was starting soon. I watched some of that private class and, once again, saw that intimate setting. You do not get that upstairs. There it's just a mass of the students trying to show Sensei what they are made of. Oh well, I guess you now understand some of my frustrations here.
After class, I went out to eat with an older gentlemen from Israel who has been doing Aikido for almost two years. He is going back home next week. It was the first time we both ate with someone besides ourselves after a keiko. I found out he has a wife and child back in Israel, and it was now or never for him to visit Japan, But he is homesick, and looks forward to going home.
I look forward to attending more Osawa Sensei classes next week. I am still trying to find my place here in the Aikikai Honbu Dojo, as well as in Japan. It has been a rough ride, but the experience has made such a huge impact on my training. Japan and Honbu have open my eyes, and the longer I stay the more they will open. At the same time, I want to close them more because I am afraid of what I might see.
Wow!..... I guess I better stop writing I am getting a little too deep.
Bye for now ADV.