It was the best misogi I've ever had oh i mean the first misogi I've ever had. The day started at about 8:00 a.m. for me getting up eating, and preparing everything by that time it was time to go off to the dojo. When I got there, Scott, Victor, and Joe were the only ones there so we waited and everyone started to get there Marcus, Phil, and Michelle, Shannon, and finally Woodard-sensei after that it seemed no one else was coming so we left. We took 3 different cars my Mom’s, Joe’s, and Marks.

At some time in the trip we got confused and it ended up us and Joe going a different route then Woodard-sensei and Mark, But we all got to the same place so it was all good.

One side trip to pick up a bottle of vinegar but what we needed was ammonia.

After we got to the beach it was looking a little like it was going to rain, But luckily it didn’t too bad. On the beach we were instructed to put on our dogi then we did some (as Woodard-sensei described it) “light jogging” I was fine at first singing to myself old army cadences to distract myself then when i stopped singing I realized I was jogging and my legs were hurting so I started to slow down and slower and slower until i was five feet behind everyone. The jogging lasted a little bit longer then expected but it was a nice warm-up. The we preceded to do our regular warm-up. After we were instructed to take off dogi and to hold hands and extend Ki and go into the water. WooooHooo that water was nice, doing a Ki shout each wave, on one of the last waves Phil got swept away breaking away from me and Marks grip. It was one more wave and then back in. As we were drying off me and Victor asked if we could go again and me, Woodard-sensei, Victor, Mark, Shannon, and Joe went for a couple more waves.

After it all we were finished and hungry so we decide to go to Chilies to eat and then back home.

All-in-All it was a great experience and one I hope to do again and possibly in a different form of misogi.

Thank You Woodard-sensei

-Andrew Dawson

Humbly submitting my impressions of this new year's misogi 2005.

Thank you first to Woodard Sensei for his time in planning the event.

As we were running on the beach, the coquina was coarse under our feet. It was cold, deep and shifting, making it difficult to keep balance. I found however that as we ran together in a line, if I placed my feet in the footprints of the ones running before me, the sand was already compacted. The running was easier, balance more easily kept, and a certain unified rhythm began to manifest itself.

The lesson for me that I took from this was to walk in the footsteps of those that have gone before me and try to learn from their experience. I find that the older I get, the more set in my ways I tend to become (less teachable) and it is important in aikido training to remain humble and trainable. Therefore, if I listen and blend more at practice and in life there will be more beneficial results. The running may even be a little easier! A simple impression, but hopefully of some value to others.

-Mark Sohm

I woke up around 6:00 Saturday morning, took a shower, and ate like a dingo in a maternity ward. My breakfast consisted of a small cup of coffee, less than half a steak pan-fried, half a grape fruit, two pieces of bacon, and a slice of buttered bread. (Hey, I had to make sure I'd have enough energy for what I was expecting!) After breakfast, I played Terranigma on an SNES emulator on the computer until 8:45ish, then left for the dojo.

When I arrived, Scott, Drew, Drew’s mother Kim, Victor, Mark, Michelle, Phillip, and Joe greeted me. Woodard-sensei was a few minutes later than us. After he arrived, we waited a few more minutes for Al and his kids, but they never arrived. We split into three parties. Joe drove alone, Woodard-sensei rode with Mark and his kids, and I rode with Victor, Scott, Drew, and his mother in their gigantic, Limited Edition Model Excursion. (God, it was a nice car. Leather seats, CD/Cassette Player, Digital Thermometer, Air and Heating controls for the front and back, sliding seats.... plenty of cargo room. Perfect for stacking up dead bodies. Or groceries. But mostly dead bodies.) Around 9:10, our entourage set off for Ponde Vedra beach. The drive took a good half hour, stopping for a bottle of vinegar incase of jellyfish stings. (Wrong product. We needed ammonia.) Thank god Mark and Kim decided to drag race in their SUVs. (My knee started to act up.) They must have been going 25 miles over the speed limit!

At the beach, the sky was overcast and was a dismal shade of grey. The surf licked and folded onto the beach of whole and shards of earth-toned seashells. (And assorted bottle and toothpaste caps.) The ocean's churning was intimidating and its hue reflected the cold skies overhead. The waves were so high; the sea foam appeared to be reaching for the heavens. I scanned my surroundings and came to the conclusion that Philip would suffice as an excellent flotation device if need be. The storm was probably creating insane rip tides, I thought. Woodard-sensei instructed the class to dress into our dogis and we followed the normal dojo protocol of being seated in a circle and bowing in unison. (Minus the Shomen.) Then, Woodard-sensei had us follow his lead in a straight line for a "little jog" to warm our bodies and get the blood circulating. The jog seemed to stretch on forever, and the impact of cold sand, water, and seashells numbed the bottom of my feet. Our legs were sucked into the wet shore like quick sand, further increasing the difficulty. I was surprisingly able to keep up with the group for the most part. I wasn't fatigued at all. (Those Hindu Squats I learned from the Mixed Martial Artists really paid off!) Later, I discovered that if I ran flat-footed, rather on the balls of my feet, I wouldn't sink. Unfortunately, I had injured my left knee a few days previously, and the pain caused me to lag for the rest of the jog. I ran along side Drew for the remainder of our warm-up, and Woodard-sensei periodically rounded us up like a sheep dog. Upon completing the jog, we stretched and counted in unison. Soon after, Woodard-sensei commanded the class to disrobe and stand side-by-side, holding hands. I was at one end of the line and held onto Mark's wrist. I thought to myself, "Mom's probably gonna run Woodard-sensei down in her Z-28, if I tell her that we stood out here in the wind wearing nuthin' but our bathing suits..."

"Everyone, together now!" Woodard-sensei shouted, as we walked in large strides to about waist level in the frigid water. Between mouthfuls of seawater, Woodard-sensei explained what we were to do whenever one of the giant waves came crashing into us. "Everyone, stay -gargle-connected, imagine all negative thoughts, feelings, and impurities washing away, send your feeling infinitely -glug-foward in a ki shout; YI-ET!" Just looking at the waves increased my adrenaline rush. I wasn't expecting such a great impact from the waves--I was caught off guard twice--and was knocked backwards and was submerged under water, where I could see the bubbles and seashells swirl about me like some sort of spectacular undersea blizzard. Maybe O-sensei's spirit Tenshinnage'd me with that pimp-slap of a wave for considering the idea of using Philip as a flotation device.... (I must have swallowed at least half a gallon of salt-water and other debris.) I quickly leaped off the floor, choking and gasping for air. The water's temperature caused me to breathe rapidly. Luckily for me, the waves paused for about 10 seconds, enough time for me to regulate my breathing. As I craned my head over to make sure everyone else at the other end of the line was all right, an even larger wave was coming forth, Woodard-sensei had said in a matter-of-fact tone. I was ready for this one; I let loose the best Ki shout I could have possibly done. Afterwards, we trudged back to the shore and finished the ritual seated in a circle, bowing. Victor, caught up in the moment, piped up like a giddy schoolgirl and cried "HEY GUYS! LET'S DO IT AGAIN!" I joined him with Joe, Woodard-sensei, Drew, and Mark and went back for a second time. (We left Scott on the beach with Michelle and Phillip, whom I could have marketed to cannibals as frozen snacks, by the way.)

Aside the fact that I was slightly nauseated for awhile from swallowing so much seawater, and my knee hurt, I felt strangely refreshed. All in all, the experience was invigorating. My goal is to be more physically prepared if we do another water Misogi in cold weather. And to order a soda or black coffee instead of water. Guh...

-Shannon Jimenez-Rojo


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