Thursday, December 29, 2005

Two Paths

Met with Russ today.

Almost 25 years ago I got involved in judo at OSU, dabbled in weapons, karate, TKD...anything martial...but I loved judo. About eight years later, living in a new city and looking for a dojo I discovered Sosuishi-ryu jujutsu and was hooked. I studied it, lived it, breathed it until my sensei retired.

Russ also stumbled across Sosuishi-ryu and he was just as hooked. We didn't work out at the same dojo and didn't meet until sometime later. By then our paths had diverged.

When it was time to take our arts where they needed to go, Russ went to Japan. I went to jail. Russ has gone , and is still going, deeper into the history and application and heart of the style than any American I know. He has seen the densho. He has tracked the differences introduced in the early part of this century and has helped to preserve the older aspects. Russ has made a life for himself in Japan, centered around his family and bujutsu.

I became a corrections officer and eventually a sergeant and tactical team leader. I took my martial path into the application and the guts, tracking the insights and practicality of an old system designed to be used... using it. My life is centered around family and work, my work is criminals and bujutsu.

When we get together, it's eerie. Similar wicked, dry sense of humor. Same soaring, wild imagination. I pick his brains for his stories, his insights and let things click as the old knowledge meets my experience and makes it clearer- these old guys knew how to survive. The whole time I am jealous, because I can imagine being on his path. Imagine a slight twist in history and we would be on opposite sides of the table, Russ would adapt as well to the job as I have, possibly I would have made the connections in Japan that he has. It would be the exact same conversation with only the voices changed.

We share war stories: deranged criminals versus rude sarari-man; near riots versus crusty teachers; teaching cops versus demonstrating at embu with a dislocated shoulder (Russ is tough!) And we ask each other questions. Thousands of questions. When I know I am going to see Russ I make a list of things to ask, and usually forget the list. That's fine- I learn as much as I can remember without the list.

Great day. Cheers, Mekugi!

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