Have you ever had one of those moments where time stood still, or at least slowed down to the point where you could smell, feel, and hear everything so clearly you thought that time actually did stand still? Well, I had one of those moments this weekend. It’s the type of feeling where you realize you’re in the right place, when you are doing what you’re meant to do. It’s like the universe is slowing things down for a moment, shouting “SEEE?!?!?” and then letting everything go back to the speed it was going before.
I’ve been enjoying my kendo class, especially now that we have the same uniform as everyone else, and also the fact that I have been given permission to wear Bogu – the armor we wear in Kendo – starting this week. Now if I can just get in touch with the guy who is letting me use his, it’ll be perfect! The thing that I have been missing has been really getting my hands on someone and throwing them around. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably the least violent people I know, but there is a side of me that really enjoys putting on pads and stepping into the ring for a heated Tae Kwon Do match, or tossing and being tossed on an Aikido mat over and over until I’m dizzy. My sister has a saying that her kids need to go outside and “get their Rah Rah’s out” and truly, it’s something that I need on a normal basis. Kendo is tiring, but I like the feel of blocking and punching, or grabbing someone’s wrist and laying them out for a roll or a pin in Aikido or Jujitsu.
As I might have mentioned before, I started going back to my old school in Princeton NJ, Hontai Yoshin Ryu. Fabian Sensei studied with the Soke (head of school) in Honbu Dojo (hq or 1st school) about 20 years ago and I started taking his class about 6 years ago. It’s only sundays (that I could make) and it’s always outside, yes, even in winter. When I got this job, I stopped because I was planning on moving to White Plains, but the housing market went into the toilet in 2006 and I started Aikido at a place halfway between work and home. When I joined Kendo, I stopped taking Aikido, and I missed it, but I couldn’t afford two schools – Kendo and something else.
But the school in Princeton is much cheaper and I could afford to do it, so I contacted Sensei again and he agreed I could come back and yesterday was the second class for me.
We do our workout in three sections – sword, staff, and jujitsu. We had finished with staff and were about to start with jujitsu when I had the moment. We had done a lot more aerobic this week than last week, doing breakfalls and rolls in the snow so I was winded and yes, a little light headed. That’s when it happened, and it wasn’t me about to pass out. It was the universe telling me that this was what I was meant to be doing, where I should be, and somehow I knew that kendo was not taking away from this , but enhancing it. I could see the individual snowflakes coming down, I could feel the cold air on the inside of my nose and throat, the wet patch on my left knee and right shoulder, and the deep breath I was slowly exhaling. At that moment, time seemed to slow and I smiled, feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally sound.
I’d even go so far as to say it was almost religious in that I felt the energy around me (getting a chill right now thinking about it), and it was warm and comforting. I was among brothers in our quest for martial perfection, people who understand that pushing yourself past the limits of what is normal causes a ‘forging of the spirit’ or Tanren-Uchi, that you don’t find many opportunities for. Many schools in Japan will take one day of this outside training to forge the spirit – we do it every sunday, and I have to say, I wouldn’t want it any other way.