On New Years morning our dojo had its annual kagami biraki --or New Years training. It was particularly special this year because the training was capped by a kanpai to mark an important transition: Stephen Kilmer has stepped down as dojo-cho, handing off the baton to new co-dojo-choDeborah Maizels and Dave Lewin.
The training started in the cold hour of 7am, with the first sun of the year rising. Steve Sensei started class with tai-no-henko (of course!), and then the First technique --always a great way to start our training anew. He then passed it on to Deborah and Dave. Dave continued class and went into some irimi nage and kokyu ho. Deborah Sensei then finished the class with some more kokyu-ho practice, bringing in some of Inagaki Shihan's teaching from Iwama this past October.
After class, we gathered with some beverages and treats, and celebrated Steve Sensei's tenure and contributions..
Steve Sensei, 5th Dan, started with the Aikido Institute in 1981 --a true home-grown aikidoka who has dedicated countless hours to our dojo, first as a student and then teacher, and then as dojo-cho since 2008. As Kim Peuser Sensei states: Steve contributed a lot to the success and continuity of the Dojo. A long standing member of the Board of Directors, he was also Dojo-cho for a decade. Among his many challenges, he was a major force in moving the Dojo to its new location and in setting up the beautiful space we now have. Thank you, Steve Sensei!
Steve Sensei will still be a regular instructor at the dojo and we look forward to continue benefiting from his knowledge and experience on the mat.
Deborah Sensei, 6th Dan, is also a home-grown talent --she started at the Aikido Institute in 1973 when it was at its first location on College Avenue in Oakland. A true veteran of California Aikido, she trained with Saito Sensei in Iwama in the early 80s, and has quietly led the dojo in administrative matters for many years. She is currently president of the dojo's non-profit Board of Directors.
Dave Senpai, 3rd Dan, has been training in Aikido since 2002, and started at the Aikido Institute in 2005. He served as uchi deshi at the dojo for 1.5 years in 2007/2008 (when we were still able to have uchi deshi!), and has traveled to Iwama, Japan twice to train at the Founder's dojo under Inagaki Shihan. He also brings about 4-5 years of experience in other martial arts (including TKD and BJJ) to the mat.