I finally made it to my first kobudo class last week. McCauley Sensei last visited our dojo in April. "Fluent" in Okinawan Goju-Ryu, he took us through the basics of bo reishiki and yoi before teaching us the beginning of kata Kihon no Bo. Thursday night, it was our turn to visit him.
His dojo is about 20 minutes from ours, which is about an hour from my house. Because his class began an hour and a half later than we normally start, he suggested we "warm-up" with a short class at "home" then swing by to work with his students. His is a very traditional dojo (I'm talking rice paper doors, tatami on the floor, etc), but still I didn't expect to see a room full of adults with bos in hand, ready for kobudo when we arrived. When I tell you there were 30 folks of every rank, shape and size imaginable, I'm not exaggerating. Everyone was most gracious and courteous, anxious to assist in any way and equally as eager to learn our names. The hour and a half literally flew by and before we knew it, we'd worked up quite a sweat from bo drills/running through the entire kata about a million times and it was time to formally end class. But my training partner, Peg, Sensei S and I stayed after a bit to chat with McCauley Sensei - who, although tired after teaching for most of the evening, generously presented the kata for us at what is supposed to be its normal cadence. Suffice to say it was a bit faster than we'd been doing it all evening. Now - if I only had another day each week, I'd perhaps be able to squeeze in a kobudo class with McCauley Sensei and his students. That's not too much to ask, right?
The most ironic part of the evening was the name of the dojo: Go No Sen, which means to wait for an opening or respond after being attacked (i.e. you get hit and you hit back). When I taught my first "theory" class at Sensei S's, the lesson and drills I chose focused on the koshi (hips) but the "sens" (go no sen, sen no sen [to strike back at the same time you are attacked - sort of like a simultaneous counter attack] and sen sen no sen [a pre-emptive strike]) were featured prominently throughout.
As my sensei so often reminds me: You can't make this stuff up...