Re: Watch Out for Aikido 'Shihans'..........
Larry has never been about money-that's true. In fact, he always hated to charge. He has a big heart and is a great guy. I have always respected him and his Aikido but it's true, he holds no rank in Aikido. He doesn't need any in my eyes but he did tell people he was a black belt if they asked him. They just never asked in what art.
Dan was probably a nice man. I know he had good relationships with his guys. A really good Aikidoist was with him ,Mike Rains, whom I also respected very much. The pity is that Larry could have easily been a 3rd or 4th Dan and Dan Vela would be a Ni dan or San dan in many groups. He just didn't have the discipline to go through the paces like everyone else. Larry and Eddie were my teachers. Gilbert Fuentes, Matt Crocker, Laura Stucky, Jerry and Gail Thompson, Hector Chavez, Mike Rains and Joel Molina were all my sempai. I loved them like brothers and sisters and they were a great group to train with. Like many families, they had a few problems but I don't regret my time with them. They had my respect and deep affection. It was home and I miss those days very, very, much.