Home is where the jitsu dojo is

I miss training regularly in Jiu Jitsu. I haven’t been to my jitsu dojo for over a month, the current distance makes it too far away to go there and back in a night. But it was tonight, as I lined up to practice and develop my aikido, 150 miles north of where my jitsu dojo is located, that I missed jitsu with a horrible and sharp longing which filled my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my aikido. It manages to puzzle me, delight me, baffle me and enlighten me. An evening of aikido looking at kaeshi-waza (counter-techniques) and katame-waza (locking techniques) was , as ever, educational and wonderful. Yet as I practised the prescribed techniques, my heart was elsewhere, longing for the less subtle approaches of hari goshi. I looked with longing as sensei did a hip throw on uke, but decided we were not to practice. I sighed with envy as the seniors threw each other merrily around, but us lower grades had to sit out on. I understood why these decisions had been made, but part of me feels I’m not the full frail flower of the forest that some of my fellow novices are.


Irimi nage (top) is good, but hari goshi (bottom) is better still.

Is it the teaching? No. Both my jitsu and aikido teachers are wonderful people. I love the different approaches all of them have – gentle, technical, strictly traditional, coaching, dictating, relaxed, and sometimes all this from a single person. Not one of my teachers has ever left me thinking, “I hope to gods they never teach again.” The all strangely complement each other, while presenting the same concepts in a different light.

Is it the people I train with? On the mat I would say there is a similar variation in the level and commitment of people there. (Actually there are a couple of people in jitsu who slightly scare me, so if anything I would be shying away from that side.) Off the mat my jitsu bunch are more regular on the social scene, but that’s not to say the aikido group are unfriendly, they just have family commitments which means that after training they can’t stick around as long.

So what is it? I just don’t know. All I can offer is that Japanese jiu jitsu is a system which works for me on some basic fundamental level in a way aikido doesn’t quite make. Which is weird, because on examination of my feelings during training, it leaves me questioning my sanity. There have been a number of times in jiu jitsu where I have gone, “oh help, I’m not sure I can…. whoa, ouch!” Where as in aikido there has been the more idle, “can I? Oh yes, I can.” Jiu jitsu is far harder on my body than aikido. I puzzle over aspects of aikido, I have to leap greater mental hurdles in jitsu.

Maybe I like having my boundaries pushed. Maybe I have a masochistic streak. Maybe some part of me thinks a body of bruises is somehow attractive. I just don’t know. What I do know is that next week I’m going to drive 15 minutes to the train station, get on the train for 2 hours and 20 minutes, and walk another 25 minutes. All this so I can practice 2 hours of jiu jitsu, before reversing the journey to return home. Masochistic? Bloody mad more like it.


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