Updated: Mar 1, 2020
One of my favorite things to say around the dojo is: "I just work here". To some extent, it's one of many things we say and do to keep the joy in our serious practice of traditional martial arts; but there is more to it.
Each time I say it, it is a subtle reminder to me that nothing of what our dojo has been, is, or will be, could be, without each and every member who has, does, and will step on the tatami (mats).
Our dojo, like so many others in our US Aikido Federation, act is an extended family of sorts, with many different personalities and beliefs that might otherwise conflict, come together joyously.
Last night I had the privilege of welcoming two transfer students officially by handing them their embroidered belts (belts with their names sewn in) - something that our dojo does with all new students as we welcome them into our dojo and the US Aikido Federation families. Many people often place the wrong emphasis during such an event, thinking that it is about the belt; it is in fact, about the commitment. This exchange, represents my commitment to each of my students for as long as they remain committed to their study of Aikido, that I will do two main things: 1) Always work to ensure that they grow and enjoy their practice, and 2) That I will always work to ensure that my own instruction is at a level that is deserving of their attention and respect by maintaining myself physically off and on the mat.
Too many times instructors decide that they have "learned enough", "don't have time", "prioritize their students", "Aikido is fitness", or some other nonsensical excuse for not examining and re-examining their own Aikido locally and abroad. My hope is that this trend begins to change and that we see instructors working hard to ensure that they remain healthy and continue training while building their dojos so that students always have the best possible role models.
Recently I was asked in a semi-public forum what the secret is to dealing with children/teens