Friday, May 18, 2007

Memories of my first Sensei

Today my heart, and mind keep returning to memories of my first Sensei. What a wonderful person he is, and a joy to train under. These moments are so precious to me. Let me share them with you, and in so doing place them in my blog for me to read, and refresh my mind when I'm old, and my mind is crowded with memories.

a) Sensei's classes pulled every ounce of energy out of you. I can remember a time when all of the dojo students fell on the ground in exhaustion after an exercise. This happened frequently during normal training, but on this special day, the exhaustion was worse than ever. Perhaps it was the heat in the room that had made it extra bad. I fondly named that day as the "purgatory class".

Only my teen daughter and I were still standing. We looked at each other, and saw in our eyes that it was only sheer determination that was keeping us up on our feet.

I asked her in a breathless voice "Why aren't you down there with the others?"

"I do cross country running Mom.. remember? I've learned that it isn't good for you to be prone when your body is recovering from a hard workout. What about you? You look like you can drop any second.. why are you standing?" she answered.

"I'm afraid that if I go down, I won't be able to come back up.. It's better to stay up here, and fight for balance" I answered sheepishly.

We both giggled at our stubbornness, and yet felt pride in each other for our determination.

b) I remember a moment when Sensei had us in line, and he commanded us to get ready for moving basics. We responded quickly, and loudly with kiai.. totally ready for the count to start us moving.

Sensei said "Each time you.."

When we heard the sound "Each".. we responded instantly by surging forwards and doing the combination thinking that he had said the Japanese word for one. ( Ichi)

The look on his face was priceless.. such a mixture of shock, dismay, and pride at the same time.

c) Each class.. just before it would start.. I would come into class, and go sit on the floor in seiza before Sensei, who was sitting on a wooden bench watching the students warm up, to tell him something. It was usually little administrative things like this student needed to do this, or to report to him about something that he wanted done. After class, I would always run up to him, and thank him in my politest Japanese for the class that he taught. I had noticed that the young students were coming straight from school, not eating supper, and training on an empty stomach. As an effort to support the kids I created a little healthy snack, and drink for them to have an hour before class. I always kept a couple of cookies, or a muffin to give to Sensei after he had taught. I knew that he was coming straight from work, and after class he was going to another dojo to teach again. He wouldn't eat supper until near 10 pm. These moments were just a few seconds of interaction with each class, but for some reason it meant so much to me. In a way, it was how I showed my gratitude for all of the instruction that he was providing for me, and my family.

d) I was sent to another dojo to bring papers to the Sensei there. It happened that my Sensei was visiting that dojo at the same time that I arrived. The Host Sensei greeted me warmly and asked me how I was doing on my training.

I responded with a mischievious smile saying "My Sensei would know that answer better than I.."

The Host Sensei turned to my Sensei and said "Well? Does she train hard?"

My Sensei responded with a deep seriousness "She hardly trains.."

The Host Sensei's face registered total shock at that response, and he looked at me quickly to see my response.

I was wearing an ear to ear grin. I didn't expect any other answer than that one from my Sensei.. ha ha ha I KNEW that he was proud of me, he had never really said it to me in words, but I had seen it in his eyes, and had heard it in his voice. I know that I've brought much joy, and pride in his heart that I was his student.

e) Sensei caught me at a nearby restaurant at the buffet table. I was having lunch with a few of my family members, and I was focused on the salad bar choosing what I wanted to eat. Suddenly, I felt an arm come around my shoulders, and a man's voice saying "You don't want to eat that.." in my left ear. Time froze.. I saw my sister's white terrified look. I felt my body prepare to send an elbow strike into this man's center, and then my brain said "Wait.. WAIT! That voice.. I know that voice.." I stopped my attack, and turned.

"SENSEI!!!" I crowed in delight. I nearly dropped my plate. I instantly bowed to him, and "osu'd" "Sensei, I nearly struck you with my elbow.."

"I know" he said with a smile "I was ready.."

Of course he would be.. silly me.. It took alot of explaning to my sister as to who this strange man was who felt that he could grab my shoulders like that and get away with it.


Colin Wee said...

"I know" he said with a smile "I was ready.."

And then you said "you thought you were ready", right?


supergroup7 said...

Not really, Colin.

I blushed, and felt shy about the whole thing. He caught me at a loss for words.

OH.. oh I get it.. you were teasing me making reference that I was such a good martial artist that I could have hit my Sensei regardless that he was ready.

I can't see that ever happening. I'm not kidding. My first Sensei was astounding in his abilities, and it's not just my white belt's sparkling eyes that's talking.

The only thing that he had problems achieving is to be able to stump me with Japanese terminology of techniques. He would go down the line of students asking for the Japanese term for a certain technique. If we didn't know it, we had to do 20 push ups. I was quite motivated to memorize my Japanese terms as I had quite a dislike for push ups. Sensei would stop before me, and his face would change with the effort of thinking up an obscure stance, or technique that might stump me. ( He had limited himself that the technique had to be at my belt rank.. ha ha ha)

There was one time where he thought he had triumphed. He showed me a movement from my kata, and asked it's name. I looked perplexed at first, and then said "I do not know what that movement is called Sensei..." ( I saw a beam of elation fill his eyes) I continued ".. but I know a similar move that is called "Kakiwaki Uke""

He burst out laughing, and agreed that I had the right term.