Loyalty. Devotion. Lineage. "Who Needs It?"

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

Over the last few years I've had the privilege of beginning a few exchanges with fellow dojo cho. These "seeds" are meant to be the beginning of long term friendships between our dojos in an effort to share ideas, help each other grow, and of course, spend long hours training on the mat!


One of the conversations that comes up pretty consistently surrounds our lineage, loyalty, and what that means for us as well as our students.


What we all agreed on was how grateful we are for what our teachers have provided - a path. In my case, Richard Stickles Shihan was my gateway to the world of Aikido. Ironically, our first meeting was spent with him grilling me about my Judo experience and whether Aikido would even be a good fit...


At 19 years old I was faced with a decision: continue with Judo, or find something new. I had known for quite some time that Judo, for many, doesn't have a great half-life for the body (torn MCLs, ACLs, ACs, etc...). However, I loved traditional martial arts, so I went about searching for something more longitudinal; something I could practice for the rest of my life. I had zero designs to ever become a teacher, I just loved the practice.


I visited over a dozen dojos in New Jersey, finding myself losing hope, comparing these senseis to my Judo teacher, who at 75 years old, still had a six pack, trained with everyone (and beat them), and genuinely didn't care about rank or position, but simply that everyone kept training consistently to improve themselves. No one seemed to measure up - until Stickles Sensei.


I found myself really taken in by his story of coming up in New York under Yamada Sensei, working at airlines to score tickets to follow him around the world to seminars. I decided that I would push and attend my first class at his dojo in R