Flat Stanley


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Flat Stanley is the title of a children's book written by Jeff Brown. In the book, Stanley is a little boy who has many exciting adventures after being flattened by a falling bulletin board.

A school in Saginaw, Michigan, conducted a first-grade Geography project. The students made Flat Stanleys and mailed them out to friends, relatives, schools and famous persons. Recipients were asked to treat Flat Stanley as a guest and report back to the school on his activities before mailing him to someone else. The students charted the progress of their Flat Stanleys.

Chushinkan Dojo was lucky enough to receive a visit from Flat Stanley. We found Flat Stanley a uniform, and gave him an introductory lesson.

Here is Flat Stanley's account of his first Aikido class:

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You don't wear shoes for Aikido, so I took mine off and left them in the rack with all the others. Some of the guys have really big feet!

 

The class starts with warm-up stretches.

 

I learned how to do a basic back roll. Aikido students use Japanese names for their movements, and the back roll is called 隷 tento undo". Beginners can practice on a thick soft mat until they are, well, ready to roll.

 

Aikido techniques are either joint locks or throws. Here I am being thrown by a navy police instructor who just ran the LA Marathon.

They say that in Aikido, small people can easily throw big ones. I didn't believe this at first, but I found that I was easily able to flip this superfit guy whose idea of fun is an 80 mile bicycle ride in the rain. He was no match for me, though!

 

We did joint lock techniques too, and here I am doing a pin. The instructor, Nakayama Sensei, is giving me some helpful pointers. In Aikido we do not injure our attackers, and so the pins and locks go in the direction that the arm naturally moves.

Of course, if you do the technique to someone else you have to let them do it to you, too. Nakayama Sensei is applying a pin here. When it starts to hurt you have to slap the mat with your free hand so your partner knows when to stop. You are supposed to turn your head away from the pin so you don't get a knee in your nose or a finger in your eye, but I couldn't turn my head because I'm flat.

 

After class everyone posed for a picture with me. The little guy on the left was pleased that he was no longer the smallest student in class.