Category Archives: aikido


I have returned to Aikido.

The pandemic nearly destroyed our dojo. When we were able to return to practice our rent went up. Due to reduced membership we could no longer afford it, and our landlord would not negotiate. I negotiated a deal with the city’s Parks & Rec department for us to teach our classes there and we share the revenue. This is how a lot of classes are done there. It has worked out well, but I was just not ready to return to class. Things at home were not settled down enough from the pandemic and other issues. I practiced a few times, but it wasn’t really time yet.

I’ve never considered myself to have “quit”. I knew I would go back to practice. When I started back in December 2006 I made the commitment that I would never voluntarily quit. It just wasn’t time  to come back yet. I needed more time to deal with things at home and my own battered mental health. This year it was time.

I’ve been back at practice for about 3 weeks now. I assumed I was in horrible condition. I was wrong. It’s not like I’ve been totally inactive the last 4 years. I’ve been skating a lot. Anyway, as it turns out my fitness level needs improvement but I’m pleasantly surprised. My body isn’t very sore. My ukemi (falling and protecting myself when being the “aggressor”) are still pretty good. I am rusty and need refreshers on some details and of course need a lot of practice, but that’s always the case in Aikido.

After one practice my mind felt clear again. I feel like I have energy again. Everything is just better.

What really makes me happy, however, is that my friend David has started. Like all of us, the last few years have been rough on him. He says he feels good. He’s engaged with practice. I can already see the change in him. It is really great to have one of my oldest friends at practice with me. I hope he really gets a lot out of it.

I Survived

Survived my first aikido practice since the start of the pandemic.

Felt good. I was not in as horrible condition as I feared. I’ve been having a nagging shoulder muscle pain and a weird muscular or ligament problem in my inner hip area for a few months. Nothing horrible, but just annoying. I think the hip thing is probably the result of a skateboarding slam I took when I was 21.  Things got stretched out real bad but no breaks. I think it probably healed up with some scarring, and now at 56 the bill has come due. Aikido has been keeping it from flaring up all these years. One practice and it is better.

I’m not going to jump to any conclusions, but I think I just need to keep up my practice to keep this stuff from being an issue. Clearly I am not the kind of person that is going to do the things outside of practice to keep things good. I am not really a fan of “exercise.” Exercise is just a side effect of the things I like to do. So there you go.


Shodan, and life goes on.

So, I tested for Shodan rank (1st degree black belt) in Aikido this weekend. The test went well. I’ve seen the video, and I wasn’t as horrified as I usually am. In Aikido, we normally test for black belt ranks at seminars — big gatherings of aikidoka from around the region and beyond. I tested at the Spring Seminar (Kagami Biraki) at Aikido of Dallas. I was honored to be tested by Harvey Konigsberg Shihan. His teaching over the weekend was subtle to say the least, and fascinating. Thank you to Aikido of Dallas and Bob Mason Sensei for again hosting the seminar.

You never “just take the test.” In aikido, they normally do the testing after at least a couple of hours of practice. In this case, after 4 hours, with a lunch break in the middle. So yes, I was tired. The idea is to see what the student can do when “there’s no gas left in the tank.”  Critical issues are not freezing up, forgetting how to do things, etc. It’s all about keeping your composure, from which you maintain your center, your posture, and your flow.

As I’ve said before, Shodan is really a beginner’s belt. It signifies you have what you need to really start learning. As I’ve prepared for this test, and now taken it, it is clear that my journey in aikido is getting a new start. Time to look at things with a beginner’s eyes again, and really evaluate the basics of distance, movement, centering, and everything else. Wouldn’t hurt to improve my cardio a lot either. And keep the weight under control.

I’ve thanked a lot of people, but I really want to thank my wife. Having a spouse that understands and supports my endeavors and shares in my joy and accomplishment means the world to me.  So thanks, Toni, for supporting me now and in the days to come.

Right now I’m on my way to a funeral. My aunt. My mom’s youngest sister. I will sure miss her. It will be good to see my extended family, laugh, cry, and celebrate her life. Smooth sailing, Aunt Trish. I love you.

Next week – Shodan?

A week from today I’ll be taking my black belt (Shodan – 1st degree black belt) test in aikido. I’ve been practicing for a little over 11 years. It has been a long but great journey — one I don’t intend to stop. As I may have written before, Shodan is really a beginner’s belt. At this point, I should know enough to really start learning. The closer I’ve gotten, the more apparent this has become. I’m 53. I had really hoped to do this by the time I was 50, but life had other plans, and that’s just fine.  I have 1 open mat practice, and 2 normal practices before the test, which will happen at a yearly seminar.

My friend Bachar will be testing with me. We have prepared together, with help from our classmates and our patient, excellent teachers. I’m glad he’ll be out there with me. I’m not nervous. It will just be nice to take the test alongside a good friend.

So this week is all about practice, rest, remaining uninjured, and getting my mind where it needs to be. The primary challenge of this test is mental. Keeping your composure. I know all the stuff fairly well. Now is the time to do it all calmly, smoothly, beautifully, to the best of my ability.