I was off from work this week and spent much of it at the dojo. I was especially glad to be able to take classes at 6:45 a.m., which I can never do when I have to work.
The morning classes have a very unique dynamic. Part of it may be because it is so early and brings only the most dedicated practitioners. The average level of student in the morning classes is very high, with two shihan regularly attending, Steve Pimsler and Robert Workoff. Both of them teach on some days but on days when not teaching, they just come to train.
Steve, who I have a little more experience with, is naturally friendly and very helpful. He seems to have the knack of knowing how to say the right thing at the right time to be of the most instructional value at them moment. He immediately puts a person at ease and makes the most of the situation. Any interaction is always very enjoyable as well as helpful.
Steve helped Yamada-sensei prepare his book "Ultimate Aikido: Secrets of Self-Defense and Inner Power," which is pictured above. I wonder who's taking ukemi for sensei...
The rest of my classes during the week were in the early and late afternoons, with the usual complement of teachers and students. I was fortunate to attend two classes with Yamada-sensei before he left town.
All the top students at the aikikai show up when Yamada-sensei teaches. At one point, I found myself in a group that consisted of a 6th dan, two 5th dans, a few 3rd, 2nd and shodans and a very junior me. What a great moment, huh?
It's too bad I have to go back to work.