Brian Cates wrote:
Mike Rains had left by the time I got there, Jorge. So had most of his original students.
One of the first things that tipped me off that something wasn't right was how Vella's 3rdCoastAikido website had a page with with a bunch of pictures of students that he was supposed to have.
Since the photos of the two people that joined right before I did were up on that page, a father and his young son, I wondered who all these other people were who's pictures appeared there, with their names under their picture.
Mike Rains was one of them. There were about 30 pictures up on that page, and only around 7 of them were currently training there when I started.
If the pictures of the latest people to join are up on the page, why are there so many people who don't train here anymore?
What I think happened is that when he launched his school Dan got a whole gaggle of students all at once (this would have been around 2000 or so) and that's where most of these pictures came from.
As time went on it got harder for Dan to hold on to those original people like Mike Rains since over time if they really knew anything about Aikido Dan's misrepresentations would become evident to them. That's what I suspect. When I joined last year he never had more than 8 or 9 people on the mat at one time; most classes consisted of around 4 or 5 people, myself being one of them.
I think it started big and then got smaller and smaller as time went on. After I left I don't think it continued on for much longer.
I wish I could really find out what Hector is up to these days. I hope he didn't do what Gilbert did and just stop training altogether. Why didn't Gilbert go train with Joel at his school?
Our original Sensei was Eddie Martinez who everyone said was Larry's cousin. They still see each other and talk all the time. Eddie moved to Houston and left Laura Stuckey in charge. Laura couldn't handle it from a leadership point of view and she resigned and Eddie appointed Gilbert to replace her. At the time, Gilbert wasn't in practice much and the job reignited him but it was then that my family moved to Houston and the dojo lost 3 people. Joel was a part of Gilbert's dojo and Gilbert was his sempai. Gilbert and the others felt the dojo wasn't growing because Gilbert was a brown, not a black belt and the general public wants black belt instruction. As a result, the dojo floundered for about three years. Gilbert put in a lot of money from his pocket to keep it open. When he couldn't handle the money part, he had to shut it down. Gilbert's wife didn't want to ever do that again and I think he was burnt out for sure so that was it for him and Corpus lost the prettiest little dojo they ever had. I think Gilbert was just spent and after being the boss for three years, I think he didn't want to become a foot soldier again.