By Nathalie Daux – Fox Valley
Scattered across the Fox Valley mat, numbered forty plus of the Midwest Birankai family, all stretching, smiling, and maybe even sweating a little. It felt brighter than normal beneath the humming fluorescent lights way beyond the reach of a bokken. It felt strange to have so many familiar faces beneath one roof again. It felt stranger to speak using words instead of movement, breath, and the soft touch of energy.
Soon though, the soft rustling of the many hakama drew the crowd of people into a few neat lines. Energy hummed, bubbling in the air before centering back at the hara of each practitioner. We had all begun to speak again.
By the end of the first day, the motley crew comprised of all shapes and sizes and walks of life spoke the same language. Effortlessly dancing around dropping bodies, we spoke with our hands. We spoke through the energy brought by the numerous teachers of the Midwest. Trying different dialects, we stuttered on our knees and slurred on our feet, but from the basics, from ikkyo, we understood one another’s words.
Sunday noon rolled around. With weapon in hand and Rodger Park Sensei at the helm, we moved a bit beyond the standard form and into territory adapted to each movement in each moment. With this great unknown, it became evident that our language may have gaps–that we must strive to speak louder and more clearly with one another. That wasn’t all though. From a bird’s eye view, no one knew what the next step was, but everybody on the mat listened to the energies radiating from the hara, the words slipping from the hands.