The Way People Live in Stories / Fly Honeys wear Hakamas

This past saturday, the two Ushi-Deshi and I drove to PA for a seminar at Buck's County Aikido. None of us were expecting what we found there.

The Dojo sits on top of a hill overlooking a field of lavender, on the second story of the barn pictured above. There's a segment of the wall facing the fields that folds away so the dojo is mostly open-to-air.

Caroline and Tom were my companions for this little adventure. Caroline is moving to mexico so practice tonight will be my last chance to hang out with her. Tom's moving out west in november. I'll miss training with these guys, they're a lot of fun. Caroline was teaching me Yoga, she lived in an ashram for a while. Tom's from out west, and did some farming in Belize.

The Senseis for the seminar were George Lyons (Left) and Juba Nour (Right). George runs the farm along with his wife, and Juba is a relatively famous sensei from the brooklyn dojo. I've heard him described as a "ronin", since he doesn't belong to any of the national aikido organizations.

We trained....and trained, and trained.

For more than five hours. I was exhausted by the end of it. 2 hours was pushing me to the limit before!

She was fun to talk to, she's from another dojo in my state, the students where I train go down there every friday. Looks like I'll have to switch off between go club and aikido!

Some advice for shoulder throws....always pick someone shorter than you! I hurt my back doing this and had to sit out for a few minutes (I was the one being thrown in the picture above. You can see with my hand I'm kinda tapping him on the side saying "hey, im not so sure about this!"). I did some spine stretches caroline taught me and I was back in the action in no time, though.

Seeing the Senseis demonstrate the techniques was surreal. No wasted movement, they barely seemed to move at all, while the person having the technique applied on them moved -a lot-.

This technique involved so much running around and rolling and such that we had to split up into groups and take turns.

Juba demonstrating a technique.

All of us at the end.

BEEES! I walked past these in the dark a few times late that night, hoping I didn't stumble head-first into them.

We stayed up late and sat by a nearby lake, talking and enjoying wine.

George offered caroline the use of his study (pictured far above with the picture of the two sensei) so she wouldn't have to sleep in the same room as us. The dojo was unlocked all night! Hanging out up there in the dark was surreal.

It was pitch black, and the only sounds were caroline practicing ukemi on the mats. I tried to roll in the dark, too, and the sounds of bodies hitting, slapping, and rolling across the mat were more or less the only sensory input.

At the end of the night, the couple that runs the farm sat around the fire with the three of us and told us stories about their 10 years in the farming business, how they got there, and places they stopped along the way. Before they switched to a single-crop farm (lavender), they spent some time doing community assisted agriculture and farmer's markets. They used to be in to "co-creative" farming, where they would deal with pests by -planting gardens for them- instead of trying to eradicate them, making peace with the spirits of the rabbit and the groundhog and that kind of thing.

Everyone there was really friendly, so I'm going to ANOTHER seminar this Saturday, this time in Northampton Mass.

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