Well it has been almost a month since my Yondan grading exam on 1/12/2020, and I finally have the time to process my thoughts and post a pic of me and my Sensei, Jan Nevelius Shihan at my home dojo, the Seattle School of Aikido.
I started my Aikido journey in February 1995 in Albany, New York, with Rick Wolslayer of Nihon Goshin Aikido. I also had the pleasure of training with Steve Sadowski and Irv Faust during my time in Albany. There was no internet, no youtube, no facebook, and no social media. You had to just show up at a dojo and check it out for yourself
I moved to Seattle in June 1997, and began training at my current home, the Seattle School of Aikido, with a wonderful variety of Aikido teachers from various lineages. Eric Oberg,Jan Keller, Robby Pellett, Allan Kaplan, David Kaplan, Jain Rutherford, and others were my teachers and mentors for many years. I received my Shodan from them in 2002. (Over time, our dojo community has become smaller with the retirements of my teachers, and I have been Chief Instructor of Aikido at Seattle School since 2015).
With the support of Glenn A Leichman, I had the opportunity to connect my Aikido lineage with Hombu Dojo via Seishiro Endo Shihan, and received my Aikikai Shodan from him in Seattle in 2008, and my Nidan from him in 2012.
I met Jan Nevelius during his various workshops in Seattle, he was co-teaching at times with Frank Ostoff. My Seattle Aikido buddy, Rupert Berk, had been encouraging me for years to come with him to Sweden to study more intensely at the Lillsved Aikido camp outside of Stockholm.
In 2013 I finally was able to go, and it was then that my formal relationship with Nevelius Shihan began. I have been going every summer since then to visit my “extended Aikido family”, and it has changed my practice immeasurably.
In 2015, I received my Sandan from Nevelius Sensei at Vanadis Aikido in Stockholm in front of my international Aikido community. And that brings me to last month, taking my Yondan exam in front of my friends and family in Seattle. There are no more tests in our lineage, any future promotions are done based on my contributions to Aikido as determined by my teacher.
A short but long story, with really too many people to name and thank individually, but without the support of my wife of 21+years, Catherine L Peng, much of this would not be possible.
It seems like my journey has ended, and yet I feel like it has only now begun. Thanks to all of my teachers, training partners, and students. I am looking forward to another rich 25 years of Aikido training and practice.
Domo Arigato Gozaimashita.