Thursday, March 03, 2005

Beginning and Beginning Again--A Brief History

My martial arts training began in 1974 at age 10. Along with my brother and sister, I trained with Tompkins Karate Association of Maryland for about 14 years. Our school taught Tang Soo Do along with some Jujitsu. In 1981 I received my 1st degree black belt.

I had my first exposure to Aikido around that time, in a class I took to improve the effectiveness of my Jujitsu techniques. It was a Tomiki style class. Tomiki Aikido differs from most other forms in that it features competition. Most styles of Aikido are non-competitive, emphasizing cooperation between partners instead of competition. I was only a beginner in the classes I attended, so I was never in a position to even think about competing. I did not continue for more than a few months and though I gained a new perspective, I was not a serious student of Aikido at the time.

In 1988 I moved to western Massachusetts and trained with a Shotokan club at University of Massachusetts for a semester. Then, in 1989, I began my Aikido training with Valley Aikido in Northampton, Massachusetts. This was the real beginning of my Aikido training. I advanced to the rank of 4th kyu and then moved to the Chicago suburbs in the winter of 1990. I went back to practicing with the local Tae Kwon Do (a close relative of Tang Soo Do) club that was nearby, but I really wanted to get back to Aikido, and joined Glen Ellyn Aikido Club, affiliated with Midwest Aikido Federation. I practiced there for a total of about 2 years, taking a yearlong break when my daughter was born in 1992.

After moving to Durham, North Carolina in 1995 I began a period of "slackitude". Family and career put martial arts on the back burner for several years. Finally getting back into the action, my wife and I joined Karate International (an American style mixing various "hard style" influences) for a short time and then I began teaching a class of my own once a week, mostly to our friends and family (which created its own issues for sure). In my own teaching, I felt more drawn to Aikido than my other previous training, but not feeling qualified to teach Aikido, I mixed Tang Soo Do, Aikido, and Jujitsu, a survey course of sorts. When that class was discontinued in 2004, I decided it was time for me to begin again as an Aikido student. I recently joined Open Sky Aikikai in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

That's the story so far.


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