Emerald City Aikido February 2016 Newsletter- Aikido on the Brain, Promotions, Classes and More!
View this email in your browser

February 2016 Newsletter 

Aikido on the Brain...

By: Dave Higley
It’s hard to believe it has been six years since I started my Aikido journey at Emerald City Aikido. It’s been my home for the entire time. I’ve trained almost exclusively at the Emerald City Dojo because I find it so fulfilling. Last summer I decided to take myself and my second kyu ranking to the Santa Cruz summer retreat and explore the greater Aikido community. I spent 5 days from July 8th -July 12th training as many as five times a day. I attended every possible session. It was tiring, exhilarating and very worthwhile.
After returning to home I settled back into my normal summer routine and continued training at Emerald City Aikido. Just towards the end of July I started to get a headache that wouldn’t go away. I visited my primary care doctor about the time an additional symptom of nausea caused by rolling appeared. We decided to get an MRI of my head on August 15th. Immediately after the MRI, I was rushed to the ER and had an emergency craniotomy the next day. They found a pea sized tumor with a golf ball sized cyst pushing against my cerebellum that needed to be removed. The surgery and a subsequent one in October successfully removed both the tumor (benign thankfully) and the cyst. My prognosis is great and I have begun to train again, although I am told to refrain from rolls until April and high falls until next October.
There are many interesting aspects of my neurosurgical experience, but one thing stood out to both my neurosurgeons and my physical therapist. The cyst on the tumor was large enough to create a mass effect on my cerebellum which handles equilibrium and balance; yet I was able to continue my Aikido, including a very intensive trip to Santa Cruz during that time. I should have had seen some problems with my balance but I didn’t. We surmised that my aikido practice with its focus on mind/body centeredness helped me to compensate for changes in equilibrium as the cyst slowly grew.
After the first surgery the mass effect changed instantly when the cystic mass was removed. My body experienced a very sudden recalibration of my equilibrium. I needed to see a physical therapist to help me regain my balance. When I first saw her, I could only stand with my right foot in front of my left for 4 seconds before I fell over. I would see her twice a week for roughly 6 weeks working on exercises to help me regain my balance. One thing that helped was using my aikido teachings to focus my mind around the Ki energy between me and the earth. Mentally feeling the connection of my body to the ground, centering it and anchoring myself to the earth energy really helped me progress through my balance exercises. In that course of six weeks I was able to regain my balance. My therapist and I both believe that my Aikido training helped me before the surgery as well as after.
It’s been a crazy fall and winter for me, but I have been incredibly grateful to Aikido for helping me recover and for the Emerald City Aikido community who supported me in many ways. I am a very lucky person, such as having my kids start training at Emerald City Aikido and having the practice pique my interest. My kids started me on my Aikido journey six years ago and that beginning has helped me recover from a pretty significant surgery. I am very thankful.

About Dave Higley

In addition to being a dedicated practitioner, Dave is a teacher in our children’s program

Emerald City Aikido 25 Years

In September of 1991 me , Paul Verba and Diane Sexton walked into a funky artist studio that was 604 19th Ave E. We had a vision to create an Aikido dojo. Within a short week the space was gutted and with the help of the Aikido community,  by the end of October we were up and rolling.  I am fond of saying that the dojo is like a river, people flow in and people flow out but the energy that is Aikido stays with us all.  Paul and I are still here committed to our art and our dojo.  25 years is a big accomplishment for all. Looking for a few folks to come forward to work with me and help plan a celebration.
Hayward Albert and Julie Bello demonstrate bowing

Does Your Child Inspire You To Do Aikido?

If so check out our special offer for parents of enrolled children:
Beginner Series
  • One month $25 
  • Two months $50
Beginner classes are Monday and Wednesdays 6:30 to 7:30.
New students are also invited to attend the Saturday noon class.

Welcome New Students

Esther Magasis and Ryan Likes

Joining our children’s classes:
August Ramberg and Salma Elouaddane
Left: Jerome and Dominic training for 2nd Kyu, Right: Jeffrey demonstrates broom waza after his test.

February Promotions

Jeffrey Johnson                6th Kyu
Jerome Montalto 2nd Kyu
Dominic Ng 2nd Kyu
Sam Creton 10th Kyu
Kai Sherman 10th Kyu

On February 13th we had kyu tests in the adult class.  Jeffrey Johnson, who started in December, received 6th kyu.  Not only was it his first promotion, but he was the first one to test.  It can be daunting to do something you have never done before, but Jeffrey handled it like a pro and demonstrated a begging dedication that inspired all.

Jerome and Dominic have been training hard for 2nd kyu, first level brown belt.  Experienced teachers will say that brown belt is a dangerous rank as students gain in technical ability.  Jerome and Dominic showed a great depth of skill without the rough application associated with brown belt testing.  Both tests demonstrated the level of commitment necessary to move forward to black belt.

Special Children & Adult Training May 14th Taught by Mary Heiny Sensei

When I was a beginner training at New England Aikikai, I had the opportunity to meet Mary Heiny Sensei.  All I knew before she came to watch a class at my dojo was that she was from Seattle, had trained in Japan, was a 4th degree black belt and had her own school.  On the east coast in the 1970s that was unheard of.  So of course I was curious to meet her.  That meeting led me to move to Seattle and eventually to open Emerald City Aikido.  Heiny Sensei has a unique place in Aikido history.  (For more visit her web site,, and I was not the only person to have been influenced by her and start a dojo. She remains my teacher and continues to guide my training.
This spring we look forward to Dan Amdur taking his Nidan, (second degree black belt), exam on Saturday May 14th.  I have invited Heiny Sensei to teach a special children’s class in addition to the adult training that will precede the test.  Teens are encouraged to train in the adult class.

10 to 11:00 (This will combine the 10 and 11 am classes)

This class will be open to adults who would like more training with Mary
Break 11 to 11:30
Adults 11:30 am to 1:00pm
Adults:$50 mat fee for training,
Teen: $25 fee for training
Test 1:15 pm
Dan Amdur Testing Pre Shodan
The translation of Paul’s piece (Ten Horses) is:
“Though my horse is not the fastest in the race, he can continue running for ten days"
Translation for Kelly’s piece is “Return to the Truth.”
Translation for Jerome’s piece is: “The difference between scholarly and martial is none.”

Emerald City Aikido Students Participate in Calligraphy Exhibition

This past weekend The Meito Shodo-Kai Calligraphy Association celebrated its 20th Anniversary with an exhibition at the Settle Center.  Emerald City Aikido students displayed 4 calligraphies. Two were by Paul Verba and one each for Kelly Okamura and Jerome Montalto. 

Paul one of our senior instructors has been studying calligraphy with Master Fujii for 10 years.  He holds the rank of Jun Kyoju “assistant professor” which is one level above Shihan.  Last spring Paul submitted a piece to the Mainichi Shimbun competition in Japan. This is the largest open competition in Japan with over 30,000 entries and each work is judged by 25 professional calligraphy teachers.  He was selected for an honorable mention.  It’s considered a major accomplishment just to be accepted as only about 10% of entries make it and Paul’s work has been accepted the last four years. Three students from Meito Shodo-Kai Calligraphy Association have won the competition in the last 5 years.

 Kelly has been the dojo’s graphic design person for the past several years has been studying Shodo for the last 3 years.  Jerome Montatlto of recent 2nd kyu fame has been doing Shodo for the past 6 months.  In addition to exhibitions from students of all levels, the Sensei, Master Calligrapher Yoshiyasu Fujii  gave demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday.  Like many high ranking Aikido instructors that I have seen in the U. S and Japan, master Fujii expressed a breath of depth, detail and joy that took one on a journey just to watch.  Congratulations to Paul, Kelly and Jerome, not just for being chosen to display for but for the commitment it takes to take on another discipline.  Cheers

Shout Outs Help Keep
Emerald City Aikido Present

As you know, Emerald City Aikido is expanding our online presence. We need your help!  If you would leave a review for us on any of our online profiles below:
Google Reviews:

Thank You again for your support.  My passion is to share my love of aikido with adults and children in the Seattle area.  Thank you for making Emerald City Aikido such a positive and encouraging atmosphere!
~ Joanne

Contribute To Our Newsletter

Got a good Aikido story or experience?  Write it down and send it to sensei at
Copyright © 2016 Emerald City Aikido, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp