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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

In the Mood

"Mood?" Halleck's voice betrayed his outrage even through the shield's filtering. "What has mood to do with it? You fight when the necessity arises--no matter what mood! Mood's a thing for cattle or making love or playing [music]. It's not for fighting."
- Frank Herbert, Dune

The good news is that a snowstorm has closed school tomorrow, so I get a day off work. The bad news is that the same snowstorm has closed the dojo tonight, so I am missing an aikido class.

I like classes in the dojo or dojang. Of course, I like them because of the environment, the cooperation, and the qualitiy instruction, but there's more to it than that. On the mat, I have someone telling me what to do. I don't have to decide that I want to keep working on my shihonage or my front foot roundhouse; I just do it because I'm told to. It's quite liberating, in it's own way.

Tonight, though, I have no such luxury. I have no dojo to train in, no instructors to guide me, no training partners to assure me that my mistakes are no big deal. The only way I'm going to get any training in tonight is on my own. And that won't be easy.

There is no room in my apartment to work out with my aikido weapons or perform taekwondo kicks, and the weather in Milwaukee has not been conducive to outdoor training since September. That means that I'm going to have to trudge through calf-deep snow in my workout clothes to the apartment complex's little gym, where dodging treadmills and weight machines will become a part of every poomse and suburi. I'm not really looking forward to it.

But I will go. It won't be out of a sense of honor, or because of some imagined obligation to my teachers, or even, really, for the workout. I'll go because I stubbornly insist on calling myself a martial artist, and I need to keep my conscience clear in doing so.

I should explain. We all sing along with our favorite songs on the radio, but that doesn't give us the right to call ourselves musicians. If I sang only when the urge struck me, I'd merely be a person who sometimes likes to sing. What makes me a musician is the time spent on music when there is no urge: when I'd rather spend Wednesday night at home, but I still show up to rehearse with the choir; or when it's 1 A.M., I'm tired, and the crowd at the bar is down to a few drunk regulars, but I still tune up my guitar for another set.

According to the same thinking, unless I train at the times I don't feel like training, I'm not a martial artist at all.

So I'll be out in the blizzard tonight, on my way to cut, stab, punch, and kick at empty air with wet ankles and chapped lips. I'd a appreciate a ride, but if you just want to drive by and roll your eyes or shake your head, that's fine, too. I won't be offended.

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