My first week back

five sketches

This past week I took three classes at the new dojo, and they were great fun.

The brand-new mats are firmer, grippier, and springier than our old ones. Jumping on them is like running in well-cushioned running shoes; they add energy to your bounce.

Because of the extra firmness, my hands smarted from hitting the mat during rollouts, though not from randori. I probably just need to work on my rollouts.

I think the padded wall was a good investment. Not that we should be any less vigilant about people playing close to the edges, but it's nice to have a little insurance in case somebody does hit the wall.

I cheated during one randori and bounced off the wall to avoid falling, like a boxer bouncing off the ropes to avoid getting trapped. I got thrown a few seconds later anyway.

The plumbing improvements are appreciated. The showers feel luxurious — nicer, as someone commented, than some of us have at home. And it's convenient having our own restrooms instead of having to walk up to that shared one at Leonard St.

The place looks great. The bamboo floors are beautiful, and Sensei's sketches along the exposed brick add a unique charm. Along with all the shiny new stuff, it's nice having familiar artifacts from the old place, like Jeff's beloved scale and that hunk of wood we sit on to tie our shoes.

Most importantly — more important than the functional conveniences and the aesthetic touches — there was a great energy from the people there. Plenty of smiles, and plenty of enthusiastic judo. We were simply being our usual happy, judo-loving selves, perhaps a little more so. When one white belt got in a hard-won throw against a higher-ranking opponent, she got a round of applause.

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