August is always a great time for Aikido and for our dojo. We kicked off August with the exhilaration of Sensei and the rest of the Kokikai community coming together for four days of immersive and intensive training. Then, with just a few short days in between, we get the opportunity to have Sensei here in our dojo along with welcoming several members from the greater Kokikai community to train for another intensive weekend. These seminars are a crucial part our individual and collective growth as students. They push us harder than we normally train, for longer hours, and with people's bodies that we aren't familiar with from thousands of throws and falls throughout the year. All this under the watchful eye of Sensei as he provides guidance and helps us improve the quality of our principles and technique.
Now, not even half way into the month, we enter a phase where we try to internalize and process all that we saw and felt as both uke and nage. It sparks healthy debate on how to lead, to move, to be still, and how to feel.
I grew up near Philadelphia. Summers are as hot and sticky as our winters are cold and snowy, August was always unbearable. If you didn't notice how drenched you were in sweat, the rhythmic sound of the locusts in the trees is always there to add insult to injury as their song rises with the mercury. In Rochester, however, August seems to usher in a break in the heat. The weather was absolutely perfect for our Seminar. Being in the high 70s made every bead of sweat that much more earned.
I want everyone to cash in on all the hard work of the past couple of weeks and we should double our efforts to be in class such that we can collectively work on all the nuances and tips we have experienced and integrate them. Summer is always big for vacations and events, so consider going on another night if such things disrupt your schedule. Also consider going to extra classes this month to see other people you may not normally see and find out what they saw and felt. The sharpness of our experiences fades quickly with the passage of times so don't let any of this spark escape you! And as I mentioned above, no, it's not that hot. :)
Finally in August, we get to cash in on years of sweat equity in the form of rank promotions. This summer we had the pleasure of seeing three of our own test at camp plus many old friends test as well. Please join me in congratulating those that have worked with such dedication to show that they have earned their new ranks.
I'd also like to extend our congratulations to Tara Liddell (1st Kyu) and Natan Krishchenko (Shodan) from our sister dojo, Eastern Sky. Also to our (formally) very own Alfred Lee who tested for Nidan. Alfred started his Aikido career in our RIT class and now practices with Dennis Embert Sensei in Silicon Valley.
Like Alfred and many others before, Rochester is sending yet another Aikidoka out in to the world. Samantha, with her shiny new black belt, is settling near Los Angeles with her new husband. She is in the good company of our friends Sanpisa and Greg where they are working to build the next entry into the growing directory of Kokikai dojos. We certainly look forward to having yet another dojo to visit!