Welcome to the Brooklyn Aikikai web log. Our purpose is to provide to our community and beyond an online account of weekly articles, thoughts, and community happenings. The web log is moderated by Ryugan and Kate Savoca. We welcome any submissions in regards to Aikido, Zen, Misogi and Iaido or weapons study. We would also be interested in receiving any thoughts on cultural activities or practices that support a healthy, organic lifestyle with particular emphasis on their relation to the above mentioned arts. Please send only serious submissions – we reserve the right to edit articles for content or length, however, we will work with authors to preserve the integrity of their thoughts. Thanks for visiting and please check back regularly!

-R. Savoca

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Years, 2011

On New Year's Eve Day we held our annual winter dojo cleaning and 28 members and friends came to help! We took up the mats, emptied the closets, and scrubbed the dojo from top to bottom. Thank you to everyone who gave so much of their time and energy on that day.

Later that evening, twenty people gathered to train and celebrate the end of 2010 at Brooklyn Aikikai. We started at 10 pm with misogi chanting followed by a half hour of zazen (sitting meditation). At 11:30 pm Savoca Sensei led a vigorous class that took us into 2011. The dojo kansho (large bell) was rung from the rooftop 108 times to mark the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. After the class we broke out the sake and made toasts to honor our teachers past and present, the community of the dojo, and all who could not be with us.

It was probably about 1:30 am by the time we sat down to our formal dinner. Three appetizers (including foie gras pate), homemade pasta with pesto sauce, salad, and the main entree: wild boar accompanied by chard and parmesan. Dessert was homemade gelato - espresso or lemon, and a tarte tatin. It was a real feast! Thank you to all of the chefs - especially Mike Mikos who spent days (really) preparing a significant share of the dishes!

In between courses there was entertainment: we had impromptu skits, several impersonations, and a live band down on the mat before dessert!! After the meal had been cleaned up it was time to bring out the microphones and the projector for the (now) traditional KARAOKE! The details of that shall be known only to those who were there... you'll have to come next year to find out how many great (or at least enthusiastic) singers we have in the dojo.

Cormac Savoca joined the party at about 5:30 am and things were still going strong. The last people to leave didn't go until about 6:45 am (that's more than an hour later than the year before... I'm a bit nervous about what will happen for 2012!).

It was a fantastic night of strong training, terrific food, and great fun. Thank you to everyone for making it so great. Special thanks to Matt Desmond, Liese Klein Sensei, and Rodger Park Sensei for joining us!

Below are just a few of the many wonderful photos Sean MacNintch took of the evening's festivities. Note the clock in the final picture, which reads 6:30 am! View the rest here:


Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Testing

On Friday, 12/17/2010, the dojo came together for winter testing. Thirteen candidates tested for the ranks of 5th through 3rd Kyu, and Scott Friedman, Yuho Baldini's student, tested for Shodan. It was a rigorous, spirited, event, beginning with a 6 pm, all-dojo warmup and mini-practice that was basically standing-room-only (introducing an extra level of challenge to our ukemi: rolling into a dense crowd of limbs!). The testing ended close to 9pm. Highlights included jyodori, randori, and a surprise choke attack. The tension ran high at times, as Sensei exhorted testers to stay connected and show a higher level of ki. But in the end, everybody passed, and Noah Landes was promoted to 2nd kyu. The dojo celebrated afterwards with a delicious potluck dinner and drinks. All in all, it was an extraordinary evening--one that demonstrated the spirit of friendship, hard work, and commitment that makes Brooklyn Aikikai a unique space in the lives of its members.