By Coryl Crane North County Aikikai
November 19, 2016
To all of you who have been a part of my life and that of North County Aikikai throughout the years, a personal message.
There is an exquisite line from Dante’s Inferno that I was reminded of recently: “Oh beautiful moment, please linger…” Coming together with all of you at this time is a moment to savor! This is the heart of Aikido – opening up and expanding the moment, seeing so much more while time seemingly stands still. You want it to last but there’s nothing to hold on to, for as soon as you try, it’s gone! There’s the paradox!
We are celebrating the culmination of 25 years of my life and that of the Dojo. A quarter of a century no less. I have resisted looking back since so much of my practice is about staying in that moment! But how fast now it seems to have flown, and how much more important become those moments ahead. It has been a rich and varied life, so much of it shared with so many of you, and so much of your lives shared with me. Teaching is truly a privilege, a gift and of course, a lifelong responsibility.
Looking back to the beginning of the Dojo, I want to honor three people who have supported and influenced me: my teacher, T.K. Chiba Shihan, my husband, Allan Kaprow, and my son, Bram Kaprow. It had never been my ambition to become a teacher but because of my circumstances – a husband and a young child at home, my teacher in San Diego and a practice that I was passionate about, I had to find a way to keep training and ease the pressure. I asked Chiba Sensei if I could start teaching close to home. Here was his reply dated March 7th, 1991:
‘… I wish you every success on your Dojo. You are truly ready to make your own path separate from me. That is your practice and (the) more you practice your way, (the more) you will feel a stronger connection with your mother dojo.’ He went on to say that he would name my dojo KAKU SHO KAN, Dojo of the Happy Crane. So I had my teacher’s blessing, I had his support, and I feel closer to him now since he passed than ever before. Because of his teaching, I have never seen my teaching as anything other than a journey of personal practice.
Some of you had the good fortune to know my husband, Allan Kaprow. He was always there behind the scenes, helping me lick my many Aikido wounds, taking care of our son, Bram, so that I could freely go to the Dojo. I don’t think I realized at the time what a huge commitment it was to be. No students, one student or 10 makes no difference – you have to be there to open the doors every day there is a class. Allan was an experimental artist and really appreciated and understood Aikido. He wrote an essay in 1991 for the Women’s Issue of Sansho, a subject dear to my heart, in which at some point he addressed the readership to say: ‘… you may wonder who I am. I’m not an Aikidoist but an artist whose art is very close in its essentials to Aikido. I live with a woman who is a full-time Aikidoist and so have come to learn a little about it, and to admire it.’
I have thought a lot about what he might have meant by ‘essentials’. A little while ago, I woke up one morning recalling a talk that he had given about his own work, to an auditorium full of people. At some point, having talked enough about what he did, he asked everyone to stand up, which they did. He then asked them to take some money out of their pockets or wallets, and they did. He then asked them to turn to the person next to them and give the money to them. They did. That was all. He then went on with his talk.
Allan’s work as an artist wasn’t in the realm of convention but in the breaking through of self limiting boundaries. This is the real work that goes on in Aikido. The inner work that is the constant within the martial context. This is the process of creativity. We are always pushing those boundaries and in so doing experiencing more of ourselves than we ever thought possible. This is what my teacher made evident to me and what I endeavor to pass on to you.
For my son, Bram, I have love and respect. He has been part of my journey whether he liked it or not! He came into the world doing Aikido. I trained well into my pregnancy. Because of him, I started a children’s program that continues to this day. I often felt torn through and questioned whether I was being a good mother, leaving him at times to go to the dojo when I felt I should have been at home. Forgive me Bram for all those times, for in spite of them you have become a wonderful man and generous human being.
So to all my students, this is the journey that we are on together. We share it every time we step on to the mat. You have all been a part of my life in ways you may not have ever realized. You have been a source of strength to me when I have most needed it, and are now here with me celebrating this occasion! I am blessed.
Now, more than ever, the Dojo and by extension the world outside, need us to turn to our neighbors and give something of ourselves.
With love and appreciation as always,
Coryl Crane Sensei
North County Aikikai
Solana Beach, California