Aikido has been the primary focus of my thoughts and activities this year. Studying and practicing Aikido has changed my life for the better in many ways. This Thanksgiving I am particularly grateful for everyone I’ve met so far along this path. Here are a few who come to mind:

  • My parents, for enrolling me in a YMCA summer Judo program in third grade. In addition to being a fun introduction to martial arts, the reflexive breakfall response probably saved my head years later in a bad fall.
  • Master Fred Kenyon, my Tang Soo Do teacher in 1979, for introducing me to the side of martial arts that wasn’t about violence, even though I came to him to learn how to be violent.
  • Mark Rashid, for showing me that one’s horsemanship could benefit from practicing Aikido.
  • Jeff Davidson and Bob King Sensei for their “Aikido – The Way of Harmony Podcast”, and all their interviewees, for teaching me a lot about Aikido before I ever set foot in a dojo.
  • My husband, Michael, for his enthusiastic support and love.
  • Visiting teachers, writers of books, and producers of videos, for making a wide range of knowlege and viewpoints accessible. Way too many to list, but in particular George Ledyard Sensei, for his “Principles of Aiki” DVD series.
  • Jun Akiyama, for the worldwide community of friends and teachers on AikiWeb.
  • Janet, Jo, Cherie, Ashley, Tara, Mark, Robin, Carlos, Flo, Michael, Paul, Joe, Karen and a hundred others, for sharing their friendship, knowledge, and encouragement on AikiWeb, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • My Aikidoka friends at work, Dennis, Tony, and Brooks, for being kindred spirits.
  • Sue and Frode, for standing at the door and wondering.
  • Chiyomi, for setting me on a path of fitness and correct body mechanics that I certainly would not have found so quickly, if ever, without her help.
  • Doug Hoeck, the physical therapist who helped me back to soundness after I hurt my shoulder. (And a few other times, too.)
  • Sheila Schneider, for coaching me in correct body mechanics and strengthening to support my Aikido and riding.
  • Donovan Waite Shihan, and the team at Aikido 3D, for creating a great tool for visualizing techniques and learning their names.
  • LordOsaya” on YouTube, for posting his early training and tests. His “n00b” and “5th kyu grading” videos are an inspiration to new beginners.
  • All my fellow students at Aikido of San Diego, for being great examples and good friends.
  • Johnathon, for having a great deal of patience when I knew nothing at all.
  • Scott, for mentoring me through my 6th kyu test, and teaching me as much about teaching as about technique.
  • Daniel, for walking just far enough ahead of me on the path to give me something to reach for, and for being great fun to train with.
  • Jay, for expecting a lot, and being a great example.
  • Megan, for being a model of how a high level of proficiency is entirely compatible with gentleness and kindness.
  • Mike, for being just the right blend of encouraging and exacting.
  • Jason & Cyril, for particularly fun classes, which I sometimes think of as Aiki Playtime, although there’s a good bit of serious teaching and learning going on there.
  • Andy, for steady, reliable weapons classes, where one can focus on getting the details correct.
  • Karen, for clearly breaking down the details of techniques, and being a patient and kind teacher.
  • My teacher, Dave Goldberg Sensei, for creating a dedicated community of friends, and guiding us with clarity, humor, love, and ruthless compassion, and for teaching excellent technique and much, much more.
  • Robert Nadeau Shihan, for being my teacher’s teacher.
  • O Sensei, for thinking this whole thing up, and for sharing it with the world.

Domo Arigato Gozaimashita
– rei –