An elderly woman with shiny eyes and a charming smile approached me right after warming up exercises ended. In a dojo, it is quite common that the senior members make sure that the beginners and the guests are receiving the best possible attention and care.
It was my first time to practice with the Kyoto Budo-Center Aikido Dojo. Training was great, Yoshida Sensei was great, but my most memorable and heart warming experience there, was training with Mrs. Koyama.
Although she looked so thin, and much older and smaller than me, as soon as we began practicing together, I realized how quickly and smoothly she moved, and how easily she adopted herself to each and every movement I made. While I hardly managed to control breath, she remained calm and she even whispered questions and friendly comments.
I am sure she has at least a couple of decades of aikido training experience. She told me that it is the first time an Israeli Aikidoka is visiting their dojo, and that she never traveled to Israel...
When the class ended, I went to thank her for training together. She showed interest in Israel, and I asked her about the idea to visit us, train with us, and teach. When she heard it, she smiled and said "The only thing I can teach or show, is the way to heaven, because soon I will be there, I am 80 years old".
Whenever I remember her, I see in my mind her beautiful aikido and her bright and charming personalty. Training with Mrs. Koyama is one of the most inspiring experiences I ever had in Aikido, and I will never forget it.
I think I'm not the only one who wishes to see men and women, young and old, training together with such joy and care.
I am looking forward to seeing her again this summer.