April 15, 2020
Hello friends, family, and dojo members,
These are truly challenging times. Thank you for bearing with us during our temporary closure. To cut to the chase, I do not know when we will be able to re-open our dojo. Any date I give would be a guess (I am hoping for July 1, 2020), and only time will tell us when the State will allow us to re-open.
As you all know, we are in the middle of a global pandemic. Our worldwide community has recommended severe social distancing to delay the spread of Covid-19 (a potentially fatal disease).
Some of you may also know that in my “real job”, I am a practicing MD in adult primary care internal medicine, and I continue to work “on the front lines” in my clinic daily. I have seen Covid-19 both directly and indirectly in my work, and I do not want to have it come to our dojo.
Having said that, I miss my Aikido practice with you all very much. I know our instructors for our other arts feel the same.
Even though there are solo practices and exercises, like falling, footwork, and “shadow waza” where you practice pretending you have a partner, Aikido (for me) is mostly a study of human relationships and connection.
It requires human contact to really feel it to practice it. That can’t really be seen on video, in person, or via zoom meeting. You have to feel it, practice it, and internalize that feeling over and over to gain experience. You have to develop body intelligence, cultivate empathy for your partner, and understand their perspective to study this art deeply.
It is also very fun to move around with your friends, sweat with them, and throw them around (and be thrown around) without getting hurt. It is a type of “martial yoga”, where you can be as acrobatic and physical as your body and training level allow.
But sadly, none of this can be done right now due to the responsibilities we have to the health of our community.
I realize that unemployment is high, and difficult financial decisions (food, medicine, or rent payment?) are being made as we sacrifice ourselves for our community. I’m sure that a dojo membership that you can’t even go to at this time seems like a luxury item. But if our dojo is to survive through the end of the pandemic and re-open when it is all over, we continue to need your financial support. We too have rent to pay.
We have been in our current location for over 40 years, and I am hopeful that we can weather this unprecedented pandemic as a community; and when we re-open, we can continue to study the arts that we love to train and practice.
I appreciate all of you that have continued to pay membership dues to support our dojo. If there is significant hardship, before withdrawing your membership, please email me directly at email@example.com and we can see if we can figure out a way for you to stay connected with us.
Thank you for your ongoing support and love for our community.
Domo Arigato Gozaimashita.
John Peng, MD, Internal Medicine
4th Dan Aikikai, Chief Instructor of Aikido
Board President, Seattle School of Aikido