While working in a rather stressful job in 1979, I was thinking about getting involved with a physical activity as a distraction and diversion. I seriously considered Tai Chi because I knew one could become engrossed in the exercise. One day, at work, a diminutive man came to our office and gave a presentation on workplace isometrics and stretching. After the presentation, I talked to him about my interest and asked if he knew where I might train in Tai Chi. He told me that he taught that style but based on what I was looking for, I might check out an Aikido class he held at the University of Idaho.
I went that night. I remember where I stood and the direction I was facing when doing my first technique: a version of nikyo. I was hooked. Quang Tran, this small man, had introduced me to not only an effective way to divert my attention from the workday, but a martial art that truly aligned with my philosophy and beliefs about how to get along with people and deal with difficult interpersonal situations without percussive conflict. This is also where I met Eric Wegner. We became friends, and have been ever since.
I trained with Tran sensei for a little over two years when he asked me to start a class in my small hometown, Troy, Idaho. With some old canvas mats, I held classes once a week for nearly two years and continued my training with Tran sensei. By this time, I was training twice a week, teaching once a week and on Saturdays taking an instructors' class and had attained first kyu. Then began a lengthy hiatus to raise my young family.
By my sixtieth birthday, our three children were grown and we were done raising and or helping care for our nine grandkids. I told my wife I wanted to get back into Aikido; see if I still had a center. I contacted Wegner senesei and started training with him and Vaughan sensei, six years later receiving my promotion to Shodan.
My original training was with Aikido Yoshinkai of North America. I am presently a member of the Aikido World Alliance. I have attended numerous seminars with this affiliation and attended classes at the Rossmore dojo in Huntington Beach, California led by Derek Nakagawa Sensei. Coincidentally, that is the city where I graduated high school.
For me, as much as I enjoy the training, Aikido, with its techniques and attitude, is much more a part of my life off the mat. It has saved me from serious injury several times, eases burdensome tasks and, along with my spiritual beliefs, helps guide my relationships and daily circumstances.