It takes a village, or a dojo…

… to teach me to breakfall and I’m very grateful.


No photos or videos of my break falls just yet!

I am simply feeling overwhelmed at the moment by how much the entire community of senior belts at the Aiki Budo Centre seems committed to my next test. Each class there are different people helping and offering advice and working with me on aspects of it. I’ve been joking that after it’s done, pass or fail, I want to buy everyone a drink.

This doesn’t come naturally to me and I think the black belts have the patience of saints. I keep thanking people for their help and support but it doesn’t feel like enough. I like that everyone seems to recognize how hard I’ve been working and a large number of people seem excited about the test. Barring disasters such as illness or injury, it’ll happen on November 22nd.

Stop by and watch if you’d like. We train at the Carling Heights Optimist Centre in London, Ontario. The kids class is 9-10 and the adult class is 10-11 and then an optional second hour 11-12. Visitors are always welcome.

It’s the fourth kyu test in Aikido. It’s the one which after I pass, they’ll remove the white stripe from my green belt. I’ll be a “full green,” as they say.

An aside: This expression, “full green,” reminds me of the children’s book, Verdi.

Young Verdi doesn’t want to grow up big and green. He likes his bright yellow skin and sporty stripes. Besides, all the green snakes he meets are lazy, boring, and rude. When Verdi finds a pale green stripe stretching along his whole body, he tries every trick he can think of to get rid of it–and ends up in a heap of trouble. Despite his efforts, Verdi turns green, but to his delight, he discovers that being green doesn’t mean he has to stop being himself. “Cannon is on a roll, her gift for creating memorable characters and scenes on glorious display in this tale of a feisty python hatchling.”


Back to Aikido: There are two different things about this test. It’s the first test on which there is a choice on the examiner’s part on what techniques are called, after the mandatory techniques. That’ll be tricky. Did I mention that at this level the test is called in Japanese? But it’s not the thing about which I’m most nervous.

Instead, it’s the first test with the advanced number three break fall on it. With this break fall someone is holding your hand and throwing you. You don’t have that hand to guide you through your roll. It’s tricky. It requires some confidence.  No hesitation they keep telling me. Just go. I’m getting there.

I’m spending time each class working on falls. I’ve been rolling over folded mats and over a “jo.” A jo is a wooden staff used in Japanese martial arts. In my case the ends are being held by large men in “angry white pajamas” and my job is to roll forwards over the jo. It looks the limbo except I’m going over the top, not under. They’ve also had me rolling over people, more large men. “Don’t worry, you won’t break them.”

Here’s the jo in action in this video, Aikido Advice for Women and a Few Men.

And more jo action here, with lots of rolling:

You can see all the mandatory techniques on my test here.

Here’s some how to roll and fall videos:

4 thoughts on “It takes a village, or a dojo…

  1. Just amazing. This is a whole side of you that I’ve never seen. I’ll take you up in that invitation to watch for a bit one Saturday morning. Good luck!!

  2. Hey Good luck with your 4th Kyu test. (I’m also testing 4th this coming Friday – we don’t have belts though) Here is another nice video on rolling that I came across this past week you may be interested in:

    I used to live in London. Nice to know there is aikido dojo there should i ever end up back there.

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