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Tadhg Bird
01-20-2005, 01:15 AM
At the beginning of December, I dedicated myself to begin teaching here in Casper, WY. The first step was to find a place where I could teach. My initial inquiries at the local YMCA seemed very promising, but things seemed to have stalled on that. A week into December, a friend wanting desperately to start training wondered as we sat in the Mall food court where we could go while waiting for the Y to make up its mind. We thought about health clubs and the like, then my mind wandered to a series of stories that was being printed in Aikido Today magazine about 9 years ago when I was a beginner. It was called "Tales from Jord's Storage Unit Aikido". It was a fictitious(?) story of a group of adventurous folk training in a Storage Unit. This flitted through my mind, and I said to him, "well we could buy mats and set up a space in my garage".

He just kind of looked at me in disbelief. The more I thought about it the more it appealed to me. I would not have to beg for space, and I could teach one or two people at a time. We would have place to get started until we found our "real" space later. Plus if I had students training in my garage, when I went to other places I could say I have "X" number of students training right now, ready to sign up here.

So I did so. Chronicled here: http://jfusion.supertux.com/4DD

I call it the Four Directions Dojo, and those that know me well will get the joke.

The day we put it together it was 30 Degrees Fahrenheit. Since then, it had only gotten colder, we were measuring temperature in negative numbers. But recently it began to warm up, it crept above 50 degrees today, and it was time to strike. It was time to train.

I set up a time, and my first two students were coming over. I got dressed in my training duds, and decided to "wake up the dojo". I went in and bowed reverently to the shomen and clapped, and bowed again. I then took my Jo, and improvised a misogi-no-jo. I was careful when touching heaven, I did so *between* the rafters.

For a first class my students did very well. We went for about 1 and a quarter hours. (Note to self, get a clock for the dojo!) After my first class, my wife got ready, and while a friend watched our son, she and I went to the dojo to train. She had last trained four years ago, working up to the intermediate level. We started off with footwork, then I drilled her on the techniques she should know for her rank. It is as they say, like riding a bike. She did fantastic. I have to credit my teacher with that. John Smartt has a way of teaching Aikido as concepts instead of procedures. Sumi Otoshi, Kotegaeshi, and Ikkyo, these are not things you learn how to do, so much as ideas you learn how to express physically.

It was good to be on a mat again, even as small as this one. It was good to train. I look forward to the next session.

One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train. -- Morihei Ueshiba

Bronson
01-20-2005, 01:23 AM
I think your dojo is fantastic :D :)

Bronson

JJF
01-20-2005, 02:24 AM
Quite impressive. I guess the good thing is, that you'll easily get that great 'seminar-feeling' since the mat will be really crowded at each lesson ;)

I think your dojo should be an inspiration to us all. Think big - start small is a beautiful concept. I myself will however be relunctant to follow your lead since I only have carport instead of a garage :D

One thing though.. where do you park your car ?

uros slo
01-20-2005, 02:41 AM
Wow thats great.
This is the true spirit of Aikido. Go on! :)
Uroš

maikerus
01-20-2005, 03:38 AM
I gotta tell you...that's great. :)

I wish I had a garage <sniff>

GaiaM
01-20-2005, 09:59 AM
Your story sounds great...
There is a dojo in Casper, I believe it is still in operation. It was originally started by my sensei who moved away a few years later. It is called Aikido of Casper and they did have a website but it isn't working any more. http://www.aikido.org/wyoming.html. Elizabeth Martin is my sensei's sister but i don't believe she is teaching there anymore. But I thought you might want to give them a call. I know that when the dojo first opened they had a quite a few students.
Good luck - keep training.
Gaia

Tadhg Bird
01-20-2005, 11:09 AM
Your story sounds great...
There is a dojo in Casper, I believe it is still in operation. It was originally started by my sensei who moved away a few years later. It is called Aikido of Casper and they did have a website but it isn't working any more. http://www.aikido.org/wyoming.html. Elizabeth Martin is my sensei's sister but i don't believe she is teaching there anymore. But I thought you might want to give them a call. I know that when the dojo first opened they had a quite a few students.
Good luck - keep training.
Gaia

Aikido of Casper still exists. It was difficult to find however. When I moved to town, I called Elizabeth to learn she was not teaching anymore. She did however have the number of Gabe Phillips who is running the club these days. I called him, and we got together, and I trained with them for a short while. It had gotten smaller from what the tell me, a "big class" was 5 people on the mat. Fantastic people, every one of them. I stopped going not for any personal reasons, but a financial one.

They are teaching at the Recreation Center, and I need to pay the membership fees to train (there is an Aikido-only membership). I really just do not have the spare cash. Its been the story of my life, I usually "work off" my training by serving the dojo somehow. I've done everything from cleaning, to website design, to teaching. Because Gabe does not have his own space, I do not think I can work out a work-study program with him.

I did not have a great desire to teach in this community until early December when I met a young man who needs Aikido. Talking with him, I realized that the New School style that I teach would be a great match for his situation, attitude, and personality, and would serve him better than the New York Aikikai style Gabe teaches. Our styles are different, as is our approach, I think Gabe's will appeal to some, and if I think its a good match I will refer them to him, but in the case of my young friend, I think my style is better match for him.

I do not want to compete with Gabe's organization. Now that it looks like my group is going to be a "go" I will call him soon and let him know I am hanging up my shingle, and hopefully set up some cross-training between the groups.

Though Casper may seem small to those living in the more populated states, there is plenty of population to support two good Aikido schools. Heck, its big enough to support more than a handful Tae Kwon Do schools already.

Tadhg Bird
01-20-2005, 11:29 AM
Quite impressive. I guess the good thing is, that you'll easily get that great 'seminar-feeling' since the mat will be really crowded at each lesson ;)

I think your dojo should be an inspiration to us all. Think big - start small is a beautiful concept. I myself will however be relunctant to follow your lead since I only have carport instead of a garage :D

One thing though.. where do you park your car ?

1) Seminar Feeling: Indeed! There is just enough room for two students to work out. with me instructing. They had to learn from the outset the importance of knowing where you are going to roll, and where you are throwing your partner! My two first Deshi are quite tall though, I can probably fit a third on the mat if he or she is very short. :)

2) I do have big dreams, but am content to continue to train "right where I stand".

3) I park my car outside. When we first moved in, we moved all the furniture in the house, and all the boxes in the garage. This allowed us to set up house quickly, but the garage was full of boxes all spread out on the floor. When I cleaned it up in the late summer, so I could park in there when it snowed ( similar to the picture here: http://jfusion.supertux.com/4DD/IM000701 ) I went to park the car, only to find that either our garage was too short, or the car was too long. So its not really that much of a loss as far as parking goes.

Tadhg Bird
01-21-2005, 07:46 PM
I wish I had a garage <sniff>

If you have room to move, you have a place to train! "Heaven is right where you stand!"

Though I must admit, a garage-shaped heaven is better than a parking-lot shaped heaven.