It’s with great sadness that I must announce the passing of Ryuzen Robert (Robby) Pellett. I met Robby in 1999 when I was given his name as a possible sword teacher. I spoke with him briefly on the phone and then went to observe a class the next Saturday. I joined immediately. Robby was one of the kindest people I have ever met. Immediately after describing the intimacy of combat he would pause class to help shepherd a crane fly off the mat before it was accidentally stepped on. Robby’s training history was incredible, studying aikido intensely with Hiroshi Ikeda before his move to Japan where he trained directly under Mochizuki Minoru sensei at the Yoseikan hombu dojo. Years later, in Seattle, when asked to do a demonstration of Yoseikan’s sutemi-waza (sacrifice throws) at a Japanese sword tournament on hardwood floors, he was able to adjust each throw so that he took the majority of the initial impact and was able to place me gently onto the ground next to him. “Trust me and I’ll put you down safely,” he said. While in Japan, in addition to his study of zen and aikido, he studied kyudo, atarashi naginata, chado, ikebana and Shinto Ryu Iai-Battojutsu, coming home with Yudansha (black belt) ranks in each. I was lucky enough to travel to Japan with him several times to begin a relationship with his Shinto Ryu teacher Mochizuki Takashi and saw him slide effortlessly back into the role of humble student rather than teacher.
Anyone who knew Robby knows that he struggled for many years with health issues. We all went through the pain of his kidneys slowly failing and the long wait for a donor. But watching him reawaken from that experience was seeing him at his most joyful. He was literally full of life and lust and embraced the gift of existence as only someone who nearly lost it could. I remember him coming to class one morning with his new girlfriend and quietly, blushing, asking me to throw him around the dojo. In that moment he wasn’t a sword teacher, or a mental health worker, or a zen priest, he was a boy trying to impress a girl. We put on a show and they left early with a twinkle in their eyes.
Robby was special and unique and I’m so glad to have known him.
Tuesday nights start with a new class, Icho ryu jujutsu at 6:15. This class is open to all members of the dojo and will focus on jujutsu waza (techniques). Appropriate for all levels, this class will work on ukemi (falls) and the basic techniques of Icho ryu with an emphasis on the kuzushi, tsukuri, kake model. At 7:30 we transition to Icho ryu aiki-budo. This class requires instructor permission to attend.
Thursday nights will also offer Icho ryu jujutsu at 6:15 followed by Budo Tanren at 7:30. Budo Tanren (martial forging) combines martial qi gong exercises and serves primarily as a Sangenkai study group. Both classes are open to all members and are suitable for any skill level. There will no longer be a Shinto ryu Iai-battojutsu class on Thursday nights.
Saturday morning is all Shinto ryu Iai-battojutsu, our sword class. Beginning at 8 AM and running to 10 provides more time to explore this rich and interesting art. Classes are open to all members of the dojo and are suitable for all skill levels.
Please note that there are no Shinto Ryu sword, Budo Tanren, or Kids Martial Arts classes this Saturday, December 9th. Our teachers are continuing their own training that weekend at Dan Harden’s seminar at Aikido Eastside. Regular Aikido classes are on for Friday night and Sunday morning however!
As a reminder, the dojo will be closed starting Friday 2:30pm through Sunday 2:30pm. Apologies for all that are inconvenienced, our mats are being used at the Jan Nevelius Shihan seminar at Seattle Central College Friday through Sunday. Classes will resume as usual on Monday. Thank you for your cooperation and support. – John
It took awhile, but we’re finally launching SSA 3.0. Fortunately good things are happening in the dojo at a much faster pacethan the webmaster works.
It’s been awhile since we all caught up so here’s a quick rundown of notable things that happened this past year:
Installed a new subfloor! Sure the place looked pretty much like it did before we started, but there’s a big difference taking falls on the new floating floor. Training is safer and healthier for all participants.
Shortened the mat frame and installed hardwood flooring in the front of the dojo. Looks nicer and easier to clean!
Put in a big, noisy fan that pulls lots of air into the dojo. Getting some fresh air into the space is always helpful and makes for much more comfortable training on the warm days.
Kids summer camp at the ocean. Quite an experience for kids, teachers and parents. There are stories. And pictures. Remember that kids…
Kenta Shimizu, Tendo Ryu dojo cho traveled from Japan to teach a seminar at SSA. It was a unique experience to train with a teacher of exceptional caliber.
Budo Tanren debuted. In this class we teach how to develop a martial body that cultivates stability, power and efficient movement. These are the basis for developing aiki skills.
And there are more exciting things to come!
Good things happen at SSA because of the leadership of our board and the significant volunteer efforts of our teachers, students and their family members. Every effort to help is very much appreciated.