Training Oct 2005
Seeing Up Close
Copyright © Paul Schweer 2005. All
There is a scab on the back of my neck. It is long and thin, all
the way across. It feels rough under my finger tips. It has
been there for a few days, tender and raw for a while. It is
healing now. Last night I asked my wife what it looked
She said, "It looks like a big scab."
It is left over from Friday night.
Ian has been coming to the dojo for a while now. He and I are
both aikido students. I’ve been at it for a few years; he is
fairly new to aikido. But he’s not new to martial arts. He
only practices aikido these days, but Ian is a judo guy from way
back. And he is large. And very strong. And
young. Enthusiastic, energetic, athletic... what have you.
I've asked him a couple of times to throw me around after class.
This past Friday was one of those times.
Working with Ian has been educational. Nothing concrete yet, more
along the lines of seeing up close and without doubt repeated hints of
just how very much I don't know yet. Have I had a few moments of
success? Yes, and they have been sweet. But mostly there
has been my taking fall after fall after fall.
A few moments stand out in my memory. One of them was Friday, and
it left a mark. Ian had gathered my gi lapels in his hands and
let my movement take out the slack, then -- did I mention how large and
strong he is -- he twisted and pulled. I put the heel of my hand
on his chin, but... things got fuzzy quick... my posture broke...
something went funny behind my eyes. (It seemed I was being
sucked into hell.) I tapped. Returned to sound and
light. And pulled my gi collar away from my neck.
Is it safe for me, an aikido student, to free-style with a judo guy
like Ian? (It appears to be quite safe for him.) I think we
are both looking to get each other while, at the same time, looking out
for each other. I don't think it gets better than that. I
think it's a precious chance to get better, one I will miss if trying
to stay safe.
But I don't think risk of physical injury is the primary thing
preventing my asking Ian to play more often. I have an inflated
opinion of my own skill and, like the scab on the back of my neck, this
delusion is brittle and ugly. And clearly visible to all but me.