I’d like to let you know that I will be inactive for the months of September and October. I have decided to have a long rest to refresh my body, to prepare for many more years to come.
I’m not ill, so please do not worry. I’m still healthy and strong like a superman.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Summer Camp organizers, the wonderful ladies and staff at the reception desk and the many other invisible efforts that were made by so many members. I’d also like say thank you for the big donation that was made to New York Aikikai from so many individuals and dojos. I didn’t know it was going on and it was a great surprise.
So far this year I received so many warm congratulations everywhere I went. All I can say is that I’m the luckiest guy surrounded by so many wonderful people. You are my treasure.
I was also given so many gifts from many people, and meaningful letters from the Chicago City Mayor, New York City Mayor, and the Vice Prime Minister of Russia, but to me, the most wonderful gifts were the big hugs from so many ladies who are normally very tough on the mat. I promise you that I’ll continue to do my best to work for you.
Finally, spring has arrived after a long and bad winter. The dojo’s bulletin board has many flyers of spring seminars all over the country.
As everybody knows already, this year is the 50th anniversary of NYA. Many people are expecting a big celebration. That makes me very happy and I appreciate your concern very much.
I’d like to offer you one big opportunity to celebrate at one time with everybody together, but I found out it is very difficult to get a big place for that in New York City. Instead, the NYA is planning a small celebration on June 7th at the dojo. Everybody is welcome but please do not expect a big event.
So far, at every seminar I went to, people gave me big congratulations and I appreciate it so much. I also appreciated that you gave me so many gifts. But for me, just your thoughts are enough.
Please don’t give me things I can give to somebody. Just give me things I can’t give to anybody. That is, a big hug from the ladies and a handshake from the guys.
On June 7th, the dojo will open for the party at 4pm. At around 5pm I’d like to make a speech.
I’m looking forward to seeing you there.
Each year I look forward to December, mostly because of my dojo’s holiday seminar. The mat is always full of New York Aikikai members, both old and new, as well as so many visitors who come to celebrate aikido and friendship. I am happy to be home at this time surrounded by people enjoying themselves. It’s always a good weekend for me.
As you may know, there are some recent changes in the USAF Board of Directors. Many board members dedicated several years of their time and put in a lot of hard work for the USAF. We are thankful for their service and all they did. But it is also important to be open to change and allow others to have a chance to dedicate them selves. As of November, the board has a new Vice President (Andy Demko), Chairman (Joe Nemeth), Treasurer (Paul Forhan) and Secretary (Larry Bieri).
Looking forward, 2014 will be a very busy year for me. I will travel to dojos all over the world celebrating the 50th anniversary of my arrival in NY. I hope you will join me on the mat, as I continue to do what I came here to do half a century ago – spread aikido. Happy holidays to all of you.
The year of 2014 is going to be a big and meaningful year for me. It will be the half-century anniversary of my time in the United States and of the NY Aikikai. I know that neither you nor I want to miss such a great opportunity to have a big party and celebrate together.
I had a few ideas to make this celebration an enjoyable one for everyone.
One idea was to use summer camp for the time and location of the celebration, but unfortunately, that will not work out. It will be impossible to accommodate the many people who might come from all over the world.
My second idea was to have a big seminar in New York City. It seemed like a good idea at the beginning, until we found out that there were no big spaces that could handle such a big crowd and provide us with the services we would need, like changing rooms and showers. There were also safety issues and regulations that both public and private places would impose on us and make the number of people who could participate very limited. I would not want to have many people shut out because of such restrictions. I’m very upset about these circumstances but we really have no choice.
So here is my solution: In 2014, I will still conduct my yearly major seminars so I can see you all. Whenever and wherever you see me, just give me a big hug and warm words.
Anyway, we will have a drinking party at the NY Aikikai sometime in June of 2014 and you will all be welcome to attend. I’ll let you know the exact date later in this year.
Thank you for your understanding, your concern and your wish to help me celebrate.
Each year I sit down and think about what to write as the New Year begins and another year lies ahead. I always come back to the same thoughts. I feel lucky to be involved with so many people all over the world, and wherever I go the experience on the mat is always familiar – people smiling, and each one taking time in their busy lives to practice aikido for their own personal reasons. It’s important to not only focus on the fun of practicing, but on the technique and learning to execute the moves in a clear and meaningful way. I see that the students are working hard to achieve this and it’s important that the instructors continue to strive for this as well. Aikido is a unique chance for people to do something positive for themselves and together, and that should always remain in each persons mind.
This past December New York Aikikai hosted its annual Christmas seminar. It was the first seminar since we have completed our dojo renovations. It was wonderful to see so many people in the dojo, and to see the new beautiful space filled with all of our friends enjoying themselves. I am very grateful for this change, and hope you will have a chance to come and visit the dojo to see our new improvements some time soon.
We have just finished the USAF summer camp of 2012 and it was a big success. It was the second biggest summer camp of our history in terms of attendance, and I’m very happy. A million thanks to all the people who worked so hard to help organize this big event. I would like to mention many individual names to show my appreciation, however, there is not enough space to do so. Anyway, it was successful because of everybody’s effort.
One unique point of our camp is that we have so many classes taught by so many instructors, including women and people from other countries, and each one of them showed their personality and skills freely. That showed my motto for our federation is working: Freedom, Friendship, Fairness and Flexibility. This is what no other country offers besides ours.
Needless to say, my biggest concern is to make everyone happy, but nothing is ever perfect. My summer camp headache is to make the class schedule. There are so many capable instructors for a limited number of classes, so in the future I must make some adjustments and shuffle the schedule around. I need your understanding and I will do my best. You can expect another good camp for next year. I will also try to improve my singing.
At the end of camp during the farewell party, I introduced my ideas for the future of the USAF. You may have received the official letter with my announcement, but here is a copy of the letter to read if you have not seen it. I also asked the Technical Committee to do the testing at camp, as it is also one of my ideas for the future. I understand that there was some confusion among the members when this happened. Please put your trust in whoever it is that oversees our tests, and not question their decisions as I have put my trust in them as well. After all, changes must be made sooner or later and since it is my responsibility to make sure the USAF stays strong in the future, it is better to start addressing them now. I will remain involved in the oversight, instruction and guidance of the federation for many years to come, and hope that you will accept with positive thoughts the many changes I have offered to secure our future.
You should be proud of yourself to be a member of the best federation in the entire aikido world.
It’s hard to believe that another year has passed, but when I look on the back of my office door at my calendar for 2012, I think that the new year will be just as busy. Even though I am tired from traveling so much, every where I go the aikido is growing and the people are excited to learn. Many people who live in countries where they have to struggle every day are so happy on the mat. It makes my job so much easier because of that. And as always, being at our own Summer Camp is one of my favorite weeks of the year – it makes me very proud to see so many members coming to camp, and now they are bringing their families. As you know, I love children and as we are all getting older, this seems to make it feel more complete.
The Board and Technical Committee meetings every year are usually very long, but I sit through them because I know how important it is to listen to what our members are discussing and see how hard they are all working to keep the USAF the best aikido organization possible. They have worked very hard this year to make sure that the future is in order for the USAF to continue in a strong and positive way. The TC will be in touch with instructors this year to discuss suggestions for how to improve our teaching curriculum and they will continue to work with the Board towards providing the best benefits for our members possible. Next fall will be the IAF meeting in Japan, where I will go with representatives from the Board of Directors and Technical Committee. Since this happens only every 4 years, we will spend a lot of time preparing for the meeting so we can have a good voice representing the future of the USAF.
As usual, I would like to thank everyone who came to the christmas seminar at New York Aikikai this year. We had close to 250 people here, and 46 tests. I like to be at my dojo when members and visitors from all over the world are all around me. It feels like the dojo is alive and home to everyone.
As I sit in my office and listen to the song “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” I think they are right.
The changing seasons always bring so many changes in life as well. With the start of spring, I have just returned from the annual Yudansha seminar at the Midwest Aikido Center. It is always such a well-organized and hospitable seminar. The students at MAC work so hard together, and they are a great example for us all to learn from. Then, the new season has also brought some sad changes. I went this last weekend to British Columbia to visit Kawahara Sensei, who is not well. He called me and I knew I should go to visit him. Seeing him reminds me about how we should appreciate life, and makes me remember the other losses I have experienced over the last year. But returning to NY, to my dojo, is always great for me regardless of where I’ve been. And now that spring has arrived in NY and everyone is walking around with a bright smile, it makes me look forward to beautiful days ahead.
In a few short weeks when the season changes from spring to summer, we will be that much closer to Summer Camp. I hope to see you on the mat!