Tuesday, March 30, 2010


In the Southern Hemisphere we have to turn in the opposite direction.

Sorry, bad joke, and no good for any non-aikido folks.

I trekked down to Aikido Hakusan tonight. (Sorry, the website is in Spanish. I know that doesn't do you any good, but the dojo's in Chile. I don't know what to tell you.) Gabriel was teaching; first row, far right. He's every bit as nice as he looks.

Visiting a dojo can be dodgy. There are people who do aikido in ways that I'm not interested in: hard, rough, involving lots of pain. I chose Aikido Hakusan because at some point recently they hosted a teacher named Dan Messisco, who a lot of my friends like, and I figure if they hosted someone my friends are interested in, they're probably okay.

Class started, and pretty quickly Gabriel's style looked familiar: he was doing aikido very much like Jane and Neville at Aikido West, and I racked my brain to come up with the name of their teacher, Takeda Sensei. Actually, my first clue was my first partner saying "Oh-toh!" when I took his balance; Jamie at Aikido West, another Takeda student, especially does that, but I've seen it from other Takeda students. It's a funny thing, but I was like "Really? I only know one tradition that says that." (Taking a fall often induces some vocalization as the air pushes out of you. "Oos!" is one, various grunts and noises are others, and somewhere in the lineage of Takeda's teaching, the students say "Oh-toh!".)

And it was fucking awesome. I love. Doing. Aikido. It's amazing to be on another continent and walk into a dojo and have everything be substantially the same. Aikido and Zen were the only Spanish I studied before I left, and it was a Basics class, so I was able to help the beginners I was training with, the same way I find a single sentence to help people at home. Gabriel is a great teacher, who came around to help my partners and play with me a bit, which was tons of fun.


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