By Dee Seabolt Sensei
I wanted to briefly commemorate a milestone for a dear friend of mine and pillar of our dojo. Twenty years ago this month Buck began training in Aikido. You may not realize this, but Buck is the longest tenured student in the school. He actually started training ten months before I began, and has been teaching regular classes since our time at UNF. It takes remarkable perseverance and dedication to devote a significant portion of one’s life to a particular endeavor, and I didn’t want this anniversary to pass without noting it.
So this is for Buck: Congratulations, my friend. We’ve been through some crazy times together, some good, some not so good, and have both watched as our school has grown, shrunk, and grown again over the years. We’ve seen scores of students enter our doorway, some staying and prospering, all having the benefit of your patience and perspective. Through you I’ve met your wonderful family, and to this day we continue to learn from each other on the mat.
And now a funny story. (Sorry, Buck!) When Buck and I tested for 5th kyu together, I remember Peter Bernath Sensei calling out a name I didn’t recognize: Alfred Pittman. I thought to myself, “Who the heck is Alfred? Could Sensei have made a mistake?” I should have known better. So although our students know you as Buck Sensei, I think it appropriate on your twenty year Aikido anniversary to let them know your real name: Alfred Buckner Pittman.
Here’s to the next twenty years, my friend.