As we prepare to say good bye to 2017, I want to recognize what I think is the most important event for our dojo this past year - Kevin Ellwood sensei's promotion to 5th dan.
I met Kevin sensei decades ago when he visited Calgary Aikikai as a young white belt. His manner of training back then was much like it is now - vibrant, energetic and joyful. It's one of the qualities I admire about him most. He gives so much as uke and demands so much as nage. When I overhear students talking amongst each other about “the falls they couldn't believe they were able to do” or the “softest flowing ukemi of their partner”, I know who they are taking about - Kevin sensei.
We run a very active dojo (1 in 5 members of the Canadian Aikido Federation is a member of BigRock Aikikai). There are classes happening almost every day of the week. It's an incredible amount of work and one person can't do it all. It takes a dedicated team with good leadership. I'm grateful to have Kevin sensei's support and his invaluable leadership throughout the dojo. Our dojo wouldn't be what it is today without Kevin sensei.
The best part? We have so much ahead of us! 2018 will see more than half a dozen students take black belt tests not to mention how many students climb closer to black belt through kyu tests. Our youth aikido program will see a minimum of 4 junior black belt tests this coming year, along with 2 intermediate black belt tests. Together with other CAF dojos we are hosting the annual summer camp with Osawa shihan in June - this is the first time Calgary has hosted this prestigious event.
These kinds of achievements only happen with strong, capable, reliable black belt leadership. Thank you, Kevin sensei and congratulations on your achievement.