Okay, so here's what all my adoring fans have been waiting for. My first class was...empty. WHERE are all my fans? To be honest I wasn't really expecting anyone to show up for the first class anyway. The poster I put in a previous post was not even put up until this afternoon. How are all the Seattlites (or Bremertonians) supposed to show up if their local YMCA hasn't informed them? Oh well, there's always next week...unless no one shows up a few more times.
There was one interesting thing that happened though before class however. After I arrive at the YMCA about half an hour before my class, a guy at the desk named Mark introduces himself to me and asks if I'm the new Aikido instructor. I say yes and he asks if I know where I'm teaching the class. I tell him it's upstairs and he asks me to follow him. I start trailing behind him as he's walking and remind him that the Hapkido class runs until 8:15, when my class begins. He asked if I knew Vern (the Kung Fu instructor) and I explain I've only met Vern once. We go down this hallway that ends in a door I've never seen before. Mark opens the door and steps aside. I go with Mark right behind me to see we're on a racketball court with no windows, just a blank square room with hardwood floors and the door closes making this ominous sound. I turn around to see Mark dropping his keys and squaring his body to mine. He starts talking about how he used to teach MMA and has taken Jeet Kun Do and how him and Vern spar from time to time because they used to be in competitions together. I'm thinking "great, my first day and some guy who works here is about to take a swing at me". Mark keeps talking and I say "That's interesting" as I put down my gi and take off my jacket maintaining a non-threatening posture but never giving him my back. Mark squares his posture to me and I relax my arms and shift my weight to the balls of my feet. I keep going through my head saying "Just step out of the way, throw your arms up. Just step out of the way, throw your arms up and ask what the hell he's doing. Just fall out of the way and put your arms between you and him". Mark finally stops his competition stories and how the YMCA here doesn't want an MMA class because it promotes violence and says "So teach me some Aikido" and his arms are partly raised and he's definitely in a fighting stance. I respond "Ok, my class starts at 8:15 upstairs." Mark who's been sizing me up, all of a sudden completely changes his posture to this relaxed, weight on his heels, hand in his pockets posture and says in a calm voice "Oh, I can't make it tonight. I have to work at the front desk from 8:15 till close. Show me something real quick". WHEW! I would have bet anything he was about to jump me and all of sudden just didn't. So I showed him the first wrist release explaining how Aikido is more about evasion and protecting yourself, not hurting the other guy. Mark listened and seems to really grasp everything I said. At about 8:10 he says "Ok, I'll try to switch shifts or something and make it to one of your classes. You'd better get going or you'll be late." Not what I had in mind for a first day, but it was interesting.