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Old 01-25-2006, 01:00 PM   #30
Dojo: Zenshinkan - Worcester, MA
Location: MA
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1
Re: Poll: Do you think your aikido organization would surive without its chief instructor(s)?

I have had the unfortunate experience of having gone through this event on a couple of occasions (and oddly enough this topic was discussed at last night's class).

The first being nearly 10 years ago when my original sensei, Paul Sylvain Sensei (1950-1996 -- 6th Dan, Shihan - Valley Aikido, Hadley, MA - USAF) passed away in an automobile accident. Fortunately, we were a dojo with a deep bench of very experienced yudansha. Sylvain's sensei's widow (4th Dan herself) took over as dojo-cho and the chief instructor role was shared by the two senior students both who were 5th Dan (Larry Levitt and David Stier).

Due to career choices, I had moved away and after searching for a few years located a dojo to continue my training (Zenshinkan, Worcester, MA - AAA). Sadly enough, I found that we shared a common bond as they too had lost their instructor - Edward Haupt Sensei (1943-1999 -- 4th Dan). A handful of his senior students made the decision to continue the dojo on in his memory. During the first couple of years, Damon Apodaca Sensei (4th Dan -- Enshinkan Dojo - Newport, RI -- AAA, now USAF) served as our chief instructor at the recommendation of Toyota Sensei. Soon thereafter, the mantle of chief instructor transitioned directly to Toyota Sensei who served in that capacity for us until his passing in 2001.

While no loss is easy to tolerate, having long-term and dedicated students in a dojo that can assume the mantle of leadership and continue its operation is a huge asset that can make the transition easier. While no one person can fully capture and transmit the skills and experience of a teacher who has passed, those that remain have incorporated bits and pieces of their teacher and that teacher's influence will go on. This has been true throughout the lineage of Aikido - O'Sensei may be gone but those who have been directly taught by him have passed on their knowledge to those who come after.

Remember that tomorrow is promised to no one and yesterday gets harder to remember as time passes. For those of you who have not lost a teacher, count yourself lucky and take full advantage of each class that you do have and glean as much knowledge as you can for you never know when you may be called upon to carry the torch.

Last edited by nellas : 01-25-2006 at 01:05 PM.
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