New Schedule and Location for 2016

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Slow and steady wins the day

Aiki folks and some judo folks like to talk about the potential for technique and wisdom, skillfully applied to triumph over strength and size and speed. But then sometimes this seems like a pipe dream - wishful thinking. A week ago I got to see a great example of slow and steady beating out natural athleticism. Here's the story.
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My five-year-old second son, Knox, is the quiet, gentle, generally compliant child of the family. He is also infuriatingly slow. Knox only has two speeds; stoppped and deliberate. When we practice matwork movement drills, the rest of the class gets all the way across the mat by the time Knox has done 2-3 repetitions of the exercise. I have to figure out whether to make the rest of the class wait as I goad Knox toward completion or stop Knox at 2-3 reps and go on with the next exercise. This has been Knox's M.O. for a year and a half now.
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Well, last week we had our Kohaku Shiai. There are no age or skill or weight classes. All participants line up from tallest to smallest and the two smallest fight with the winner staying up against the next largest player in the line. Knox is the next-smallest guy in the line-up. Well, last week, Knox demolished more than half of the line-up, beating kids larger, heavier, older, and generally more athletic.  Nearly every match was a dramatic upset with Knox coming out on top.  At the time I thought it was just a cool example of the old axiom, "In judo, on any given day anyone can win."
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A couple of days later we're back in class and Knox is dragging himself through the matwork drills as the rest of the classmates are racing across the mat. I tried a couple of times to tell the faster students to slow down and pay attention a little better and then it dawned on me. Knox is not just slow, he is deliberately and carefully practicing the drills.  He may do 1/3 or 1/4 as many reps as the other boys, but each rep is thoughtful and is as perfect as he can make it. And that's why he smashed his opposition in the shiai.
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I stopped the class and asked, "Who were the first 5 players to get across the mat that time. Everyone's hands shot up and there was a chorus of, "me! me!" Then I asked, "Ok, of you guys who got across the mat fastest, who placed in the shiai last weekend?" All the hands dropped and the chorus died out. "Knox," I said, pointing down the mat at him still trying to complete the drill. "Slow Knox placed second."
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The moral of the story: Slow and steady wins the day.