Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Visiting Dojos

We're currently in the market for a good martial arts school for both Ethan and Sierra. Both have expressed interest in learning some form of "kick-some-bootie", but haven't yet decided which form it should be. So today we paid a visit to our local Aikido dojo/school, just to see what it was all about.

We met with Mr. Holloway, the teacher/sensei, who immediately made us feel welcome. I was a bit taken aback at the level of unbridled testosterone being exhibited by many of the boys in the room while they waited for their class to begin. (Gulp)

In fact, I began to have second thoughts about the whole thing, when Mr. Holloway calmly walked over to a little bell or gong (not sure what it was, as I was too far away to see) to signal the start of class, and WHOOSH! Suddenly the room was perfectly silent, less the soft swishing sound of the children's uniforms brushing by as they assumed their opening position.

They all sat in silence on the mat, tallest to shortest, with their eyes transfixed on their teacher.

Wow!

Now, that...was...COOL!

Once the first pleasant shock wore off, I was able to relax a bit more and enjoy the class. Ethan and Sierra enjoyed watching the children flip, roll and dive along in their respective exercises, but when it came to doing push-ups (15 of 'em, on your knuckles and toes!), Ethan paled slightly.

(Ahem)

Push ups are not his forte, but at least he tries.

During one of the exercises, one child had to stand on one of those Bosu balls (a stability ball cut in half and mounted on a platform to practice your balance) while the other kids stood in a circle around them. The child on the bosu had to toss a weighted ball--very gently--to the members of the circle and back again. Kinda neat, considering how well you had to maintain your balance and throw at the same time.

Mr. Holloway came up to Ethan and Sierra and asked if they'd like to participate.

They immediately said YES! So off went the shoes and socks, and they joined the rest of the class in the circle.

Very cool!

Once that exercise was over, they made their way back to where the bench with Abby and I. But you could tell they were really enjoying themselves. ;-)

Oh my goodness, and THEN! Check this out...a short while later during another more difficult exercise, one of the boys muttered, "Dang it" under his breath. I personally *barely* heard it, and I was pretty close to where he landed.

Mr. Holloway however, heard it loud and clear and suddenly the whole class came screeching to a halt.

"Who said "Dang it"?"

No one breathed.

"Who said it? I heard it, someone said it. That's a substitute swear. We are not going any further until that person fesses up."

The boy visibly gulped and raised his hand.

"Thank you for being honest. Next time you don't perform as well as you liked, or you mess up, don't say anything. Just get up and try again. Understand? Now, 15 push ups."

"Yes, Sensei."

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! (I guess this means I'll have to restrict all of my "substitute" swears whenever I'm around him too, eh? Like "crap" and "dang it". Hate to have him make me drop 'n give him 15!)

Then later, during another exercise (kinda like red light/green light), a boy didn't sit down after he moved, even though the "light" didn't happen to see him move. But of course, Mr. Holloway did. He had him sit down, and then said something that I really respected; "Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking."

Dean and I were both duly impressed.

So anyway, that was dojo #1. We will visit dojo #2 on Friday when the kiddies go in for a private (free!) 30 min lesson. Rock on!

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