Having the luxury of multiple dojo's is something I for one am not familiar with.
Welcome to Midland, Texas! Population: 95,000+ and home to fewer than 10 aikidoka.
When seminar's take place, Shihan come for a visit, aikido camps are required for rank... guess what? We got a LONG way to go!
I agree with Sensei Ledyard that its nice to see a group of people that are "hungry" for aikido and really want it. For the most part, that's what 99% of us are in Midland. Hell, we get excited when we meet new shodans from two hours away!
Many back west, and east for that matter, are spoiled for having Shihan living in the same city as they do. To train under Saotome, Ikeda, Yamada and Mary Sensei... on an everyday basis? DANG!
One classmate of mine, who is a nidan, has a son going to Stanford in California. He had been trying to get his son interested in aikido for a long time. And now... with so many high ranking instructors just around the corner, he wanted his son to train even more so! Well, the son is now starting to look into it and hopefully will stick with it. Many of us just wish he understood what a goldmine he's sitting on out there.
Sensei Riggs is an excellent instructor and we're glad to have him. But for those in Boulder, Washington D.C., New York, San Fransico and L.A.... you have no reason to sluff off on training. At least you don't have to drive 10 hours for a seminar or have the expense of plane tickets ON TOP OF seminar fees and dojo dues.
Sensei Ledyard, stay on everyone! Get em out and keep em training! And as soon as the money is avalible, count on Midland (me?) coming out to learn what you have to teach about Randori! We always drool just thinking about the randori class you teach.