With steadily increasing interest each week, this has proved to be a durable project, which I suspect we will continue even after we return to the dojo for regular practice.
For Week 6, we took the show on the road to Discovery Park. Starting at the North Parking Lot, we followed the meandering Loop Trail through the woods until it met the Hidden Valley Trail, which we then followed to the first fork, and back up the steep main road until it rejoined the Loop Trail again. From there, we descended the stairs down the bluff to the North Beach Trail, but instead of following the beaten path southwest to the lighthouse, we ventured northwest along the coast.
In stark contrast to the previous week, we were accompanied by an eerie but refreshing mist that kept us cool throughout our hike. It also got us a little lost as we searched for a well-hidden, unmarked path back up the bluff. After doubling back, we eventually found it, and carefully made our way back up, using ropes and roots to help us up the steep terrain.
The sight of the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center as we emerged from the woods and the fog felt a little like rejoining civilization after being lost in the wild. But our work had just begun ‒ now was time for judo practice, with pushups and uchikomi led by Arnold.
After practice, we goofed off for a bit while enjoying grapes and French toast from Kozue. Those who stuck around to the very end received a special treat, homemade ichigo daifuku from Miki! Most of us are no longer in this for the judo, the exercise, the camaraderie, or any of that ‒ we’re in it for the food.
We took a week off so several of us could attend the Junior Olympics in North Carolina.
We came back to an inferno! Our fifth session was on the first day of the historic heat wave, and we picked a monster of a course for the occasion. Whoever’s in charge of picking these routes needs to be fired immediately.
Fortunately, we started early enough to avoid the worst of the heat that came later in the day. With another record turnout, this time we were off to Golden Gardens Park. It’s a little over two miles to the park, mostly on the flat Burke-Gilman Trail along the tracks. Once we arrived, we did a little running through the beachside groves, and then got down to business with our regular pushups and uchikomi on the beach.
After a break on the playground, enjoying homemade bread from Natalie and scones from Kozue, we set off again. Instead of taking the flat path we arrived on, we opted to take the hundreds of stairs through the forest and up to the top of the bluff. In my mind, I had envisioned us reenacting the Tenri University training videos where they sprint up and down the stairs with ease. In reality, we jogged about a quarter of the way up, and slowly suffered the rest of the way at a pace more suitable for people who haven’t seen the inside of a dojo for the last 15 months.
From the top of the bluff, it was a relatively easy two miles downhill back home, with a brief stop by Sunset Hill Park on the way. By the time we got back, the heat was upon us, and we spent some quality time in our homemade PVC sprinkler.
Heavy rain was in the cards for Week 4. Nevertheless, enthusiasm was higher than ever, and we had record participation. The rain turned out to be a welcome guest, even if it meant getting muddier than usual crawling through the forest.
Special thanks to Miki and Kozue for the delicious karepan and Belgian waffles, a delightful distraction from our soggy state.
We gained momentum in Week 3, with nine people showing up to run. I think it helped that we started an hour later at 8 AM. This was also the first session in which we had a Walking Team, a small group of people who join the effort at a more leisurely pace. Miki and Kozue kindly provided cookies and onigiri for the whole team after the workout.
We ran the same course to the Locks, again with some trekking through the woods, pushups, and lots of uchikomi. We also did some fun bobbing and weaving around the metal sculptures above the fish ladder.
There’s a section of our regular course that we call Heron Poop Run. High in the trees above the walkway are hundreds of nests, which are home to countless local herons. We have the strongest of incentives to run this particular 100-meter stretch at full tilt. Want to take it slow? Congratulations, now your hair is covered in heron poop.
The following Saturday, Diego and Owen were ready to go again at 7 AM. Perhaps taking pity on us and our failed efforts to turn people out the previous week, Arnold and Al joined us for Week 2. The five of us ran mostly the same course as last time to and around the Locks, this time stepping it up with some additional uchikomi with bands. Uchikomi on the hill, uchikomi in the field, uchikomi in the forest.
The tiered hillside is great for ukemi practice as you sprint down, slip on the grass still wet with morning dew, and fall on your face.
Who wants to get up and drive across town for torture training at 7 AM on a Saturday? As it turns out, only Diego. Owen didn’t have a choice, given that his commute is all of two flights of stairs. So the three of us set out for a run to the Chittenden Locks, a pleasant couple of blocks from our house. Once there, we made the newly reopened park our personal playground, running across the narrow walkways spanning the two locks, climbing stairs and scrambling up hills in the small patches of woods, and doing our obligatory 100 pushups that everyone from our online sessions has worked up to.
A short dash down the tracks back home, and we wrapped up our first session by a little after 8 AM.
Five-year-old Sean, disappointed that we hadn’t woken him up for the run, insisted that he was indeed up to it, so the two of us reran the 1.5 miles again, muddy woods and all.
It will be our great honor to host Shintaro Nakano Sensei for a two-day clinic at Seattle Dojo on Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22. This will be an outstanding opportunity for NW judoka to learn from a former member of the Japanese national team, and a truly gifted and inspiring coach. All are welcome!
Juniors: Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm (registration from 9:00 to 9:45 am)
Seniors: Sunday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm (registration from 8:00 to 8:45 am)
Starting Monday, October 2, 2017, we will move our class times up by 30 minutes to accommodate a greater number of students and families who prefer an earlier starting/ending time. The new class times will be as follows: