This past weekend, I had the honor and privilege to learn from Sensei Rick Berry at the PNBA’s Spring Seminar. Currently, my feet are sore, I’ve a wrenched wrist, and a potentially hyper-extended elbow. My muscles are tired, my bones are fatigued, my eyes would very much like to close.
I feel GREAT.
Most of the time, when I or one of my training partners is at a seminar, we inevitably make a statement similar to: “What a great experience! I learned so much.” While that is certainly true in this case, one element made this past weekend more amazing than most. Most of the time, when I am at a seminar, I am the receiver. I learn, and take what I have learned and try to give it to my students. There are many occasions where this is highly appropriate (I am thinking of camps with Sensei Maruyama, for example). But this past weekend, I felt that I went on a journey with Sensei Berry. He was not simply there to teach. He was there to share, to discuss, to encourage. We, as the students, were partners in a discussion of martial technique and philosophy.
There is simply too much to say in one post about what I learned from this weekend. So I won’t try. But I’ll at least start with the energy. There was so much of it. So much positive excitment, dedication, and enthusiasm. It was built on a combination of seeing both Sensei Bannister and Sensei Berry, two of the finest Aikido practitioners I have ever met; it was built on seeing old friends; but mostly it was built on a community of people dedicated to improving themselves, their community, perhaps even the world through the practice of Kokikai Aikido.
Think seeing your favorite football team win the Super Bowl. Think a family reunion. Think getting together with a group of old friends. Think the energy you get when you are performing or listening to your favorite music. Think of a runners high, think of a good meal. Get all this wrapped up, and you have the beginnings of what I felt during this weekend.
Right now the entire experience is a hazy blur; over the next few weeks, things will sharpen into focus. I want to share and describe what comes into focus here, because I do not want to forget it. Right now, I am stunned, amazed, happy, sore, enthusiastic, recharged, and tired. I’m off to bed.