On December 18 I will mark my 10 year anniversary of Aikido. I took my first practice on December 18, 2006. I was 42 years old. In June of 2017 I will be taking my Shodan (black belt) test. By then, two of my fellow students will have each become Shodan, which means (theoretically) that we will all know enough to REALLY start learning.
I don’t write a lot about Aikido here on this blog. This is partially due to not wanting to present myself as some self-proclaimed expert. I have my own experience of Aikido, which I reflect on almost every day, but it’s difficult to convey what I’ve seen and experienced in the dojo without sounding like some self-help bullshit artist.
So I will be at almost 11 years of practice when I test for Shodan. In Aikido, especially the United States Aikido Federation, we don’t just sell belts. The requirements for practice between ranks becomes more demanding as you progress, and the more I learn the more I understand the necessity of this. We don’t have “black belt contracts” that guarantee we’ll be a black belt in 2 years. We don’t have contracts at all.
I guess I’m thinking about this because over this last weekend we moved our dojo to a new location. We have been located since 2010 in a very nice martial arts area set aside in a tumbling/cheer facility. The owner decided to call it quits and get out of the business, which left us potentially homeless. We found about about this last Tuesday. By Thursday we had found a new host, by Friday we’d negotiated the deal, and by Sunday afternoon we’d disassembled our practice floor, moved it, and put it back together in the new place.
We lucked out to find a new host so quickly, especially one with a totally unused very large room that could accomodate our entire practice floor easily. So right now, I’m even more appreciative than normal of our dojo. We came close to having a bit of a break in our practice, which could have lost members. I’m happy we have continuity.
The day I blunderred into Plano Aikido Center and met Sidney Shiba Sensei was one of the best days of my life. I know now that at the time I didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground, and I didn’t even know that I didn’t know. Now I know it. I’m a work in progress.
Bob, that is SOOOOO kickass that you are closing in on Shodan. I kind of think all you have put in on the Kid’s classes may have aided your Aikido mojo at the dojo. You have to have a flexible mind to work kids and that may be more important in Aikido than how wide you can stretch your legs.
Not trying to be preachy here, Dave, but a couple of years ago I decided that this is not a race, and realized that they day I am made Shodan I will still be the same person as the day before. Yes, the kids classes have given unexpected gifts. I’ve had some setbacks over the years – injuries, family illnessed, etc. Last year I actualy scaled back to twice a week because I decided I wanted a little bit of the rest of my life back. My plan, which could easily fall apart due to life getting in the way, is to scale practice back up in January and start preparing. The bare-handed stuff I pretty much got, just need to get smoother (as always). The knee stuff will always be a challenge, and the weapons I need a lot of work on.