"If you are going to drown, do not torture yourself with shallow water."

The impending doom came off rather well, in fact, and while this week did suck royally, it seems to have ended on a couple of good notes.

I hurt my shoulder again Thursday in aikido, in a different kind of way...not just nerve pinching this time, I think, maybe some stretching of connective tissue like what I did to my thumb. What happened was that I started doing standing rolls for the first time in a long time, and discovered that I could do them properly and they didn't hurt, so at the end of class we were doing twenty consecutive rolls, and I was dizzy and not concentrating, so on number twenty I didn't tense my muscles and my shoulder collapsed and now it hurts. Ann was over yesterday and we decided that since I can still lift things and I'm not in blinding pain, the odds are very good that I've just stretched and bruised the whole shoulder assembly and haven't done anything that requires surgery. (I had her bring her Gray's Anatomy, and holy shit, the shoulder is complicated. Bones coming in at all angles, and ligaments and random muscles and sacs of fluid cushioning things. Christ.) I've iced it and taken Aleve at Ann's suggestion, and it seems to be healing, hurting less even than yesterday.

You know, sometimes you exceed your limits and you find out that the limits are self-imposed. But it also happens that you exceed your limits and you discover (typically with some kind of pain) that there is in fact a limit there that really, really needs to be respected.

So today we had a dojo field trip down to Frank Doran Shihan's 70th birthday party (with some training) at Aikido West in Redwood City, and then up to City Aikido's Grand Opening (also with training--Kayla-sensei was teaching). My original plan was to not train, to rest my shoulder, especially with my test on Friday, but when we got to Aikido West I sort of looked blankly at the horde of people practicing on the mat (it was so crowded they couldn't fall), and someone basically pushed me onto the mat, saying, "See, it's easy, you just get onto the mat and jam." Caroline later said she had known there was no way I wasn't going to train today, and was amused to look over and find out she was right.

It's like a really healthy drug. Barring disability or blinding pain, the only way I'd not train is if I didn't show up.

The class after Kayla-sensei's at City Aikido was taught by Bob Nadeau, the founder of the dojo and a guy who start studying with O-sensei (the founder of aikido) back in the fifties. O-sensei gave some of his students scrolls saying what they would teach; Morihiro Saito, whose general lineage I'm learning, was charged with keeping the basic movements alive and solid. Bob Nadeau got "You will teach the aikido that cannot be seen"--sort of the more energetic, principles side of it. And my God, the man is unreal. I'm not even sure how to describe the ease and grace with which he was moving, throwing people with the same effort you or I would put into breathing. Just relaxed, moving along, and the technique becomes part of your natural movement. No tension or working up to it, just constantly breathing, moving casually, and the same way he breathes, his uke is on the floor. Eventually he had one of the black belts attack him, and the attacker was hurled to the floor because Bob just...wasn't there any more. I think he gave the guy a bit of a push with ki projection or something, but basically he threw the attacker without touching him.

I've tasted it, a little bit, because we spent most of the class doing relatively simple moves, but doing them so they were effortless--the end result feels a lot like you're just a little bit of wind going past the attacker, and just as you pass them, they fall down. I want bring that feeling back to practice.

    "Do not follow in the footsteps of the wise, seek what they sought."

These people have the goods. I want what they have, and I want it with a passion and a desire that I'm not sure I've ever felt before. It will take the rest of my life, and I'm not at all daunted, because I love it and it's fun.

I had so much social contact today that I'm going to collapse now.