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Aikido has been the primary focus of my thoughts and activities this year. Studying and practicing Aikido has changed my life for the better in many ways. This Thanksgiving I am particularly grateful for everyone I've met so far along this path. Here are a few who come to mind:
My parents, for enrolling me in a YMCA summer Judo program in third grade. In addition to being a fun introduction to martial arts, the reflexive breakfall response probably saved my head years later in a bad fall.
Master Fred Kenyon, my Tang Soo Do teacher in 1979, for introducing me to the side of martial arts that wasn't about violence, even though I came to him to learn how to be violent.
Mark Rashid, for showing me that one's horsemanship could benefit from practicing Aikido.
My husband, Michael, for his enthusiastic support and love.
Visiting teachers, writers of books, and producers of videos, for making a wide range of knowlege and viewpoints accessible. Way too many to list, but in particular George Ledyard Sensei, for his "Principles of Aiki" DVD series.
Jun Akiyama, for the worldwide community of friends and teachers here on AikiWeb.
Janet, Jo, Cherie, Ashley, Tara, Mark, Robin, Carlos, Flo, Michael, Paul, Joe, Karen and a hundred others, for sharing their friendship, knowledge, and encouragement on AikiWeb, Facebook, and Twitter.
My Aikidoka friends at work, Dennis, Tony, and Brooks, for being kindred spirits.
Sue and Frode, for standing at the door and wondering.
Chiyomi, for setting me on a path of fitness and correct body mechanics that I certainly would not have found so quickly, if ever, without her help.
Doug Hoeckhttp://www.hoeckpt.com/, the physical therapist who helped me back to soundness after I hurt my shoulder. (And a few other times, too.)
Sheila Schneider, for coaching me in correct body mechanics and strengthening to support my Aikido and riding.
Donovan Waite Shihan, and the team at Aikido 3D, for creating a great tool for visualizing techniques and learning their names.
"LordOsaya" on YouTube, for posting his early training and tests. His "n00b" and "5th kyu grading" videos are an inspiration to new beginners.
Johnathon, for having a great deal of patience when I knew nothing at all.
Scott, for mentoring me through my 6th kyu test, and teaching me as much about teaching as about technique.
Daniel, for walking just far enough ahead of me on the path to give me something to reach for, and for being great fun to train with.
Jay, for expecting a lot, and being a great example.
Megan, for being a model of how a high level of proficiency is entirely compatible with gentleness and kindness.
Mike, for being just the right blend of encouraging and exacting.
Jason & Cyril, for particularly fun classes, which I sometimes think of as Aiki Playtime, although there's a good bit of serious teaching and learning going on there!
Andy, for steady, reliable weapons classes, where one can focus on getting the details correct.
Karen, for clearly breaking down the details of techniques, and being a patient and kind teacher.
My teacher, Dave Goldberg Sensei, for creating a dedicated community of friends, and guiding us with clarity, humor, love, and ruthless compassion, and for teaching excellent technique and much, much more.
Robert Nadeau Shihan, for being my teacher's teacher.
O Sensei, for thinking this whole thing up, and for sharing it with the world.