First, we were fortunate to have Sensei David Nachman visit us for our first annual Spring Seminar. As I wrote earlier, it was an inspirational weekend for everyone.
Then, this past weekend we were even more fortunate: Sensei Maruyama (founder of Kokikai Aikido), visited us on his way home to Japan.
I must admit that I was quite nervous about Sensei coming to visit us. While I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with him before, it was always with other, more senior instructors nearby who knew him well. This weekend, not only was he visiting the Kokikai dojos in the Northwest–he was also staying in my home. So it was with a great mixture of excitement and nervousness that I picked him up at the airport Saturday evening.
I needn’t have been worried. For the past couple of weeks, I had been given excellent advice from many people such as Sensei David Nachman and Sensei Nancy Demasi on what sorts of things I should consider while Sensei was in town. But nothing prepared me for how relaxed and, well, positive I would feel once I started spending time with Sensei. He was gracious and friendly, and I think he enjoyed his stay with us.
The highlight of the weekend was that Sensei agreed to do a special class on Sunday. We arrived at the dojo a few minutes behind schedule (we got caught up shopping in the neighboring city of Snohomish). As we walked into the dojo, we saw the mat quietly filled with rows of Kokikai students from all over the Northwest. The scene was one of calmness, excitement, and expectation. Students were sitting in seiza, ready for whenever Sensei stepped onto the mat. At Sensei’s request, I led a quick warm-up. Then, we enjoyed an amazing class in which Sensei shared his insights and thoughts on Kokikai practice.
As with any major Kokikai event, one of the best parts of this past weekend was that there were so many people that I don’t get to see as often as I would like. Sensei Ted Hodson, from Aikido Kokikai Victoria, was there, as well as Sensei Shon Grimes, from Aikido Kokikai Downtown Everett. I was especially glad to see Senseis John Koriath and David Stubbs. Both of these instructors were really my first teachers in Kokikai Aikido, because when I first started I could only train on “off” nights when assistant instructors led class. It had been a while since I had seen Sensei Stubbs in particular, so not only am I grateful that Sensei came to visit, but I am also grateful that his visit allowed me the opportunity to see some old and valued friends.
I learned a great deal over the past weekend, and gained a great deal of experience that I think will serve me well when we host the Aikido Kokikai International Convention in Seattle this Fall. (Typically, this event is called Fall Camp; however, there are so many people coming from all over the world, Sensei thought a different title this year was in order.)
I am very thankful that Sensei came to visit!