2016 Newsletter

2016 was another wonderful, busy year with family, work, Aikido, and travel.
On January 11th at the annual “Kagami Biraki” ceremony, Moriteru Ueshiba, Doshu, the current head of the martial art of Aikido, and grandson of the founder, announced the 2016 list of promotions to the higher-level ranks (5th dan – 8th dan). It was a tremendous honor to have the recommendation of his teachers and the formal announcement by Doshu of Michael’s promotion to 6th degree black belt.

Aikido continues to be a major focal point in our lives. Danielle has now been training for 43 years, Michael for 30 years. Danielle’s dojo (school), Aikido of Monterey, has mostly recovered from the 2008 downturn and we now have an enthusiastic group of kids, juniors, teens, and adults participating in our various programs. As chief instructor, Danielle leads all aspects of the dojo and teaches 7 classes each week. Michael teaches 3 classes each week and also maintains the website for the California Aikido Association. In addition, as students and/or teachers, we participated in 18 Aikido seminars throughout the year – some which we hosted.

March 25 – April 10: Danielle and I travelled to Japan with two Aikido friends, Abby Young and Linda Holiday (chief instructor at Aikido of Santa Cruz). The goals of the trip were to train with Motomichi Anno, 8th Dan, in Shingu, a visit to Kyoto, and closing with a trip to Tokyo to train with Doshu. This was Danielle’s sixth trip to Shingu and Michael’s fifth. As good fortune would have it, we were treated with the appearance of cherry blossoms everywhere we went. We spent the majority of the trip in and around the coastal city of Shingu, which is situated in the Kumano region of Japan, an area of great natural beauty. After Shingu we spent 3 days in Kyoto, enjoying the temples, shrines, parks, and cherry blossoms along the “Philosopher’s Walk”. We were in Tokyo for Michael’s birthday, and after training in the 6:30am Aikido class, we had a private meeting with Doshu who formally presented Michael with his 6th Dan certificate. Pictures are much better than words, and we saw so much more… see our video

(left to right, below: Michael receiving 6th Dan certificate from Aikido Doshu; Dorokyo Gorge, Kumano; Funada Dojo with Anno Sensei; "Philosopher's Walk" cherry blossoms in Kyoto)
Our annual Memorial Day weekend Aikido retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center (MBZC) was highlighted this year with the presence of Zen Master Ji Bong (Robert Moore). Master Ji Bong had not visited the MBZC since our wedding ceremony, over which he presided, back in 2000.

In July we attended the annual Aikido Summer Retreat at Feather River College in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains, and we were each invited to teach a class.

In August we again drove up to Petrolia (in the “Lost Coast” region of California) for the annual Aikibojitsu Retreat. Since we drove up in the Miata, we took an extra day coming home so that we could drive the coast highway. We stayed overnight at the Headlands Inn B&B in Mendocino and had dinner at our favorite restaurant, Café Beaujolais – if you ever dine there be sure to try the sturgeon dish!

In October we travelled to Portland where an Aikido friend was hosting a weekend seminar with our teacher, Frank Doran (who was promoted to the highest level, 8th Dan, at the 2017 Kagami-Biraki). We again took Amtrak with the sleeper-car accommodations. On the trip north we awoke to the sight of dawn rays illuminating the peak of snow-capped Mt Shasta.

(left to right, below: Renewing wedding vows with Zen Master Ji Bong; the Zendo at MBZC; Mt Shasta sunrise; breakfast in our room at the Headlands Inn)