Crashing Waves

John and Sonia MillerHe has this way of putting you at ease, at calming you. I don’t know if it’s a parlor trick, or if it’s something he picked up out West. But if it is a parlor trick, it’s a damn good one.

Or maybe it’s just practice. If it is, then I think I understand. You see, there is really only one thing about John you need to know. He’s always training. Always.

He told me this story once. I was having a bad day, about something trivial, and was dealing with it as I always do. Badly.

He took me aside, and told me something I remember to this day: “Jerry, it’s all crashing waves.”

“The anger you feel right now? The anger that’s keeping you from training? It’s just a wave, crashing on the shore.”

It’s just a wave, he told me, rising slowly on the surf, rising until it wavers, until it topples and recedes, slowly, inevitably, away.

Of course there’s more to it than that.

You may not know this, and John certainly didn’t advertise it, but he is deeply involved in transcendental meditation. It’s why he would disappear sometimes, for a week or two out West. He wasn’t going to Vegas. He was meditating.

And this is what I mean when I say that John is always training. Not just Aikido, or only Aikido. John has bigger fish to fry.


You know, now that I look back, I really don’t think it was a parlor trick at all…

We’re going to miss you, John. Please keep in touch.

17 thoughts on “Crashing Waves

  1. Nice entry Jerry, thanks. It took us 4 days to get acroos the country to New Mexico. We are doing a lot of visiting, some unpacking and getting adjusted.

    At the end of the month we’ll go to Fairfield, IA for about three months of extended TM.

  2. My best aikido memory of John?

    Nidan test at Wintercamp 2008. He was paired with Sasha from Florida Aikikai, a much younger, taller partner. I didn’t say stronger. It was a gruelling test of almost an hour with each taking ukemi for the other, and John at 60-or-so, holding his own. There were much younger men who could not finish the test.

    Thanks for leading by example, John.

  3. In my long career as a martial artist there are instructors that simply stick with you, and I am honored to of had John as an instructor. John, I truly enjoyed learning from you and wish you all the best out west!

  4. My most memorable experience with John? Like Buck, the yudansha tests at the 2008 Winter Camp.

    Note that I didn’t say my “best” memory. I think I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can look at that experience as something I needed, even though it was (perhaps) unintentionally given. In truth, passing that test was harder than passing the bar exam.

    (I will point out to our upper kyu ranks that the format that year was a first, and–to date–has not been repeated. Thankfully.)

    John’s endurance is incredible. And even he was shaking (just a bit!) after that nidan test.

  5. I was worn out after that test. When I went over to an area on the mat where I think it was Penny Bernath stamping th yudansha books, she asked if I was all right. I responded I was fine, but had anyone looked after the younger man. 🙂

  6. Was that the year that an uke got hurt during the testing? I remember some one telling me a story of an uke needing to bow out.

  7. Yes MM, it was. I was setting on the edge of the mat right next to the young man who had to go to the hospital (I think for a dislocated shoulder).

  8. I think John’s test was thirty minutes. Full speed, no stop.

    And it included roles as uke and nage, which isn’t normally done for nidan.

    And by the way, a big thanks to Sonia too, for her role in the dojo. That soothing paint color you see on the walls? We picked it on Sonia’s expert recommendation, who told us that from a design perspective, blue has a known calming effect.

  9. John,

    Sorry I was unable to see you off. I hope that if you pass through Florida in the future you will certainly stop by . I will forever remember and be appreciative of your help and encouragement in the 2011 cleansing!

  10. Road to Ruin, now that was a classic LP!!!

    What percentage of the world do you think knows what an LP was.. I myself mourned the demise of the 8 track with its four programs

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