After the anticipation left my imagination run wild in many different directions, I've finally been allowed many to dissipate with my first actual encounter with an aikido class. Thanks to advice from my very first sensei a few years back, I just visited and watched my first lesson tonight.
The sensei is a policeman I think, 53 years old, the same height as me but definately has a few to 20 pounds more than me, is very fit, but more importantly, very relaxed. My mind raced through the many possibilities of the teacher's potential attitude, and usually visited the strict and traditional. However, this man seems very much a normal person. Ha, that sounds ridiculous to say, as we are all just people.
Perhaps a good image is that while the aikido class was in session, so was a kendo class in the same gym. There were three young children and their teacher, and the lesson was conducted with the loud cracking of sticks and frequent grunts and screams likening them more to goblins to me than anything else. It looked very interesting and lively. But the class tonight was conducted in a very quiet, relaxed, and yet with constant motion. Only the sound of heavy breathing, the swishing of gis, and the slapping on the mat were to be heard from the aikido corner. The teacher said that there's usually about 13 students that attend, but due to the extraordinarily heavy snows, only 2 other students were present. The teacher did everything with the students, and frequently gave verbal instruction between falls. Though the teacher and his other blackbelt student tonight wore traditional hakama, this seems to me a very informal and relaxed class.
I understood very little of the words spoken in Japanese, but when talking with the teacher, I felt comfortable with the fact he was trying to express to me that you don't use external force and sporadic attacks in aikido but rather subtle circles and body position. He seemed unimpressed by the kendo, and that also made me a bit more interested.
Fresh ramblings from an exciting night. I'll participate in class next Monday, and that is good.