On March 24, 2012, Churn Creek Aikido held its grand opening seminar with guest instructor Lyons Shihan at the brand new dojo in Worton, Maryland.
On a rainy morning, 16 members of BCA made the journey south to support their brother Nick Fritz Sensei and to infuse his new space with hard training and positive Ki.
Our caravan arrived without incident and early enough that we were able to actually start the seminar an hour early. Talk about hungry! After check in and a brief moment for “oohs” and “ahhs” about the beautiful space, we suited up, bowed in and got onto the new black mats. There were even some unexpected guests such as Dave Mata and one of his students who drove 12 hours through the night from Chicago and long time practitioner Ronald Ernest from D.C.
There is something quite exquisite about participating in the “building” of something. The energy of genesis can be very potent. How many good stories have you heard that start with; “I was there when…”
Nick taught the first class and drove us through an hour of suwariwaza. I know of several pairs of knees that were groaning after that. Lyons Shihan taught the next three classes, two body arts and one weapons class. In a show of good spirit we trained straight through lunch, instead of breaking, so that those who needed to leave early were able to experience the whole seminar. Even though I trained with many BCA members, being at Nick’s dojo seemed to add fresh excitement to everyone’s practice. We even blessed the pristine white walls with some fresh bokken holes. Now it’s a dojo!
The seminar concluded with Lyons Shihan presenting Nick with a framed photo of O-Sensei for the new kamiza. Lyons Sensei also shared some words of insight and encouragement. In true BCA fashion (and now CCA fashion), there was a delicious potluck back at Nick and Mary’s home. Bacon wrapped pheasant, venison, and BBQ chicken were just some of the highlights (Nick’s ginger carrots were top notch). Trained and fed, we finished out the evening with some libation and some good ole story telling.
Really, this seminar for me was a celebration of a “beginning” that has been many years in the making. From our first awkward roll, we are building something in our Aikido. We build strength and coordination, awareness, technique and connection. The months turn to years and we continue to develop upon the foundation of our practice. For some this may lead to teaching and then a transition into moving on and the creation of one’s own dojo.
Nick truly exemplifies this theme of building a dojo by literally designing and constructing the entire space, inside and out. It was an incredible feat that consumed him for 8 months. Several members of BCA contributed their brawn, including myself, to help him screw, lift, pull, and bend the space into shape but it was truly Nick who did the lion’s share. I imagine he is immensely proud (and rightly so) for creating such a wonderful training space. I know I am.
If I could be so bold as to offer a suggestion to Nick as he begins this next stage, it would be this: “dare” to make your dojo’s daily training true to the way you want to train in Aikido. Set the character, inspiration, and direction of “your” dojo. Thanks to everyone for a great seminar and Happy Birthday Churn Creek Aikido.