Of dojos, drought and flooding rains

posted 7 Mar 2012, 02:16 by Dan James
wagga flood
It's well over a year now since Brisbane was badly affected by floods and pretty much things are back to normal. Spare a thought though for the dojo south of the border, Schnell sensei at Aiki-Centre, Melbourne had the mop out during the summer break and Bardos sensei and crew from Wagga dojo are hopefully being allowed back into their homes in Wagga very soon. Seems like training is the easy bit sometimes ...

Here is a lovely story, a nidan Essay from Andy McGlone about a flooded small town dojo (from  the old Kiai magazine from Ki Society, edited by Tony Deckers 

Aikido Ki Society Australia Newsletter Kiai Issue #6 Aug/Oct 1999

Nidan Essay by Andy McGlone 

It had been raining forever, everything was under water, even the swimming pool. The floods had subsided somewhat, the week before, but this last lot of rain had brought about the cleansing. The places of worship were all empty, their cathedral styled roofs seemed to be the only unchanged component of the landscape. The advent of ‘World Worship’, along with satellite sex had been a major blow to the socioeconomic factors running the small country town.

The Dojo had been floating for about two days. It had been held at bay by anchoring it to the surrounding, large, blue gums, but even these had given way with the last downpour. The Dojo had been redesigned to float as it seemed the most logical thing to do in the flood plains, where it stood. Students in rowing boats had been holding the Dojo steady while further anchoring took place, but darkness was falling and the worried look on the Sensei’s face told it all.

It may be the last straw if the rain keeps up, because the root systems of the blue gums were very shallow. Everything that was going to float away, had already passed with the flotsam and jetsam a fortnight ago. This last flood was a cleansing.

When the wind had stopped from above, the town looked like a lot of dolls houses up to their roofs in aspic. What was once a thriving tourist town, showing the magnificence of the coffee lounge set had now been turned into a watery grave for anything man-made. People seemed so helpless.

The animals had moved to higher ground whilst the people had been left to fend for themselves. Those who went with the flow of redesigning their buildings and vehicles, had done this with ease. While others kept repairing their houses for a bygone age, where the weather was predictable. They had been broken over and over again. Finally, moving back to the highrises in the cities, spirits broken, they were no longer part of the coffee lounge set.

It was dark by now and the wind had brought more rain. Most of the students had to leave to support their own families. The old Sensei knew this, though all of his children had long grown up and flown the coup. He was still in contact with the humanity that prevailed. He had almost given up on the Dojo after the last student had left.

More rain had been forecast, levees had been breaking down all over the region. King Tides were on their way. The ocean had reclaimed every low lying town on the East Coast.

The Sensei left the rooftop of his living quarters, and pulled himself along the main rope, that was holding fast to the Dojo. If the Dojo was going to end up in the ocean, he was going with it. He realised another meaning for “To move me, move the Dojo”, and he slightly chuckled to himself as he mounted the step onto the floating Dojo. Nothing had changed it looked as it always had, well kept and undamaged.

He heard the huge sigh and straining on the last rope, which seemed to scream as it snapped and fell under water. Darkness had come and the Dojo was on the drift course for the creek, which was now funnelling into the ocean. Fully grown trees passed it on the way as if they knew where they were going, beckoning the Dojo to follow.

The Sensei knew the timbers he had built the Dojo with, and was pretty sure the same trees had beckoned her brothers to float towards the ocean and live again in a different region in another time and formation.

There was no sense of panic in the old Sensei’s face, he had seen it all before. He had won and lost and won again, and knew within himself, that the cleansing was a natural universal law that had to prevail.

He lit a few candles and switched off his torch to save batteries. It was a full moon, but because of the cloud cover it remained pitch black. The lapping of the water against the side of the Dojo, became more louder and more noticeable as it reached the creek. It had now caught up and was flowing freely with every thing else. It was floating at a reasonable speed towards the ocean. The Sensei and the Dojo were remarkably happy considering the situation.

The sound of water lapping, was interrupted by the incessant buzzing of a mosquito. While the Sensei looked everywhere for it, the noise became louder and louder. Eventually, he peered through the window and realised it was a small craft, coming towards him, carrying a torch.

The young man stepped from his motorised surfboard, which he rode with ease, lifted it onto the verandah, and put it down alongside his rucksack. He bowed to the Sensei, as he entered the main door, and for some reason the Sensei recognised the young man, even though they had never met. The young man had red curls and an impish face that would never grow old.

He said the words “Toho Kame Emi Tame”, and knelt down. The Sensei said nothing, instead he went to the corner of the Dojo, took out two bells and gave one to the young man. They both kneeled and lifted the bells, chanting, “Toho Kami Emi Tame”, for what seemed like hours. It could have been days. Time had a way of playing tricks and disappearing into itself when chanting with the bells was concerned.

At one stage the sound of the water lapping was much louder than the two men chanting, but the storm was subsiding. A crack in the clouds appeared and the moon wove its silver onto the wave tops as they settled on the horizon. If the chanting had stopped, the two men would have realised they were a good two miles out to sea by now, and panic was useless as always.

In any case the chanting by this time was much louder than the water lapping and it seemed as if dawn was coming, but this wasn’t the case. The sky had cleared and the Dojo had stopped abruptly on a sandbank, that hadn’t been there the day before. Still they chanted.

A helpless, damaged tugboat, was guided there by the bells and the chanting. The sailors said that at the peak of the storm they heard ‘Toho Kame Emi Tame’, and would have run aground otherwise. The helicopter pilot said that he’d heard some strange language singing on his radio receiver, but put it down to coastal refraction and electrical storm interference. He had been lost while looking for others who were lost. ‘Toho Kame Emi Tame’, was the only thing he had on his radio for at least ten minutes, although it could have been twenty. Time had a habit of disappearing into itself when chanting with the bells was concerned. Whatever it was, he was glad to hear it, because all good pilots know that when the signal gets stronger they know they’re getting closer to the base on the mainland.

The Dojo settled, the clouds cleared and the drizzle stopped as the dawn broke. The young man got up from his kneeling position, put on his rucksack and was about to start the small motor on his surfboard, when the Sensei had to ask, “Where did you learn those words?”.

The young man turned and said, “From my Father. He used to sing them to me before he left, when I was about three. I don’t know what they mean. I better go and get help to bring the Dojo back to where it belongs.”

The Sensei said, “What was your Father’s name?”. The young man looked hurt, as he didn’t know his father’s real name, he just said, “they call him ‘Old Yalla Belt’. I’ve been looking for him for the last five years. Did you know him?”.