February 5, 2005

Wax On, Wax Off

I had the coolest experience this morning: I took Madeleine (6) to her Aikido lesson. Jen has been telling me about how great it is, and how much Madeleine likes it. Meanwhile, I was picturing in my head all those little strip mall karate places.

The Aikido Shobukan Dojo in Takoma Park doesn't fit that stereotype at all. First of all, you'll have a hard time finding it, because it looks like just another home tucked into a residential area. I thought it was somebody's house (and it may be). As we walked along the narrow, meticulously cared-for garden walk along the side of the house, I was picturing Madeleine taking lessons in someone's living room. It was no living room!

The interior of the place defies description; you'd have to have been there to understand any of the rest of this. It has a big, open floor with a beautiful shrine, worthy of some Neo vs. Morpheus sparring. The artwork and calligraphy on the walls is cool too. But the most compelling piece of art is a two-story tall, wooden sculpture that hangs from the ceiling and ends with a hook at the bottom that holds a kettle a half inch over the coals in a hibachi set in a massive chunk of wood that serves sort of as a coffee table. There were two big doors, the size of garage doors, across the room that apparently open onto a veranda and rock garden. There are some really nice photos on their website.

I was really impressed. I've always thought that Aikido is the classiest of the martial arts. The visit to the dojo, along with the down-to-earth goodness of the Takoma Parkers who practice there, made me want to enroll myself!

Posted February 5, 2005 6:55 PM