Aikido has been part of our lives for nearly four years now. Lulu was not even six when she started and Molly was nine.
At the time I was spending one hour a week in the Dojo watching them train, not much of a hardship. One hour stretched to two as they moved up in belts. Now in the winter they train on different days so I am at the dojo for over four hours a week. I reckoned as I was there anyway I may as well get something out of it and after many weeks of consideration, wavering between foolish stupidity and just plain cracked I took the plunge and joined my daughters on the mat. I have always had a problem with travelling the easy road.
Speaking of joining my daughters on the mat, the respect for what you have achieved in Aikido is such that you kneel before the sensei in order of seniority or belt colour. Both Molly and Lulu are a long way up the line from me a fact which they both find extremely pleasing, and that’s great. There should be times that they can feel as though they have achieved something special. It is a great confidence booster for them. Just so long as they remember who does their washing.
My inspiration was Jutta, a woman in her seventies who has only just hung up her Hakama (black skirt worn over the white gi). If I can be half as good as this woman was on the mat I will have achieved something truly amazing.
My first class was a nerve racking experience. I wasn’t prepared for how hard I would sweat, by the end of the night I was drenched but happy because I also wasn’t prepared for how much I would enjoy it.
I am not sure if I will ever be as cool as the woman in this photo. One reason for that would be the problem I have with my knees. The other night as I was practicing a move on the sensei when one of my knees gave way and the other landed on his arm. Not quite the pin I was going for and the accompanying ‘humpf’ from the instructor was a little unnerving. From the minute I get on the mat the word ‘sorry’ seems to spew from my mouth like the lava flowing out of Mount Etna. Unfortunately your knees get a fairly good work out, which varies in intensity from kneeling in front of the sensei to using them to stand up from a roll. This will be my greatest obstacle and I envy the free flowing movement of those less afflicted but I will persist.
What I am unfamiliar with and am extremely grateful for is the support and encouragement received from the other students and teachers without which I may have struggled. There is no judgment, even though you know there is a distinct correlation between you and a hippo dancing gangnam style. It must take extreme will power to resist the urge to comment or laugh uncontrollably.
I am proud of myself for taking the gamble and giving it a go. Maybe it will turn out that it is not for me but while I am enjoying it I will stick with it.
Keep checking in as I update you on my progress should there be any.