Movin’ On Up

Sam and Peter Bernath ShihanEditors Note: For those who may not know, Sam is leaving us this August, for greener pastures in Atlanta. Sam began training with us in 2007 at the University of North Florida. Before Aikido, he trained in Shorinji-Ryu Karate, and he plans to continue his Aikido training in Georgia. On a parting note, I thought I’d dig through the archives and post an article he wrote. The original can be found in our June 2008 newsletter. Enjoy!

After studying Karate for three years and then moving to Jacksonville, I arrived at the University of North Florida as a post-baccalaureate student in the Fall of 2007.  At that time, I did not know much about Aikido, although I had a sensei back in Gainesville, where I am from, who informed me that Aikido study was amenable for somebody who knew Karate.

My name is Sam McCrea and I am a high school math teacher here in Jacksonville.  When I first set foot in the dojo, I did not know much about Aikido, but I did know what not to look for in a school:  pretense, grandiosity, and promises of “a black-belt within X number of years.”  Instead I knew that one should look for a simple, dedicated school with inhabitants dedicated to their art.  I found that at UNF. 

My maturation as an Aikido student has been very gradual.  During the fall semester last year I generally went to a lesson once a week.  Now I usually go two or three times a week and I can sense a growth in my abilities.  For somebody like me, Aikido study is an excellent way to put my concentrative powers and self discipline to the test.  I am famous for not being able to pay attention, but Aikido forces me to do it. 

I am also impressed by the martial ability of the instructors and students.  I attended a seminar hosted by Brevard Aikikai in January where Tonya was promoted to 2nd kyu, a rank she now shares with Oscar.  I have also recently been made aware of the rank status of our “Aikido Family,” including Karl, Leslie, and David, who are all 4th kyu.  In addition to being impressed by their artistry, the members make the dojo a place where I feel welcome.  I am comfortable here and feel I am among friends.  If I ask Sensei to demonstrate a technique for me, I can rest assured she’ll do it gladly, even if I’m literally asking her for the hundredth time.

I say hats off to the Aikido Center of Jacksonville; as long as I’m a student at UNF, I will continue to train here.

You’ve come a long way in a short time, Sam. (As have the students you mention in your 2008 article!) On behalf of Sensei and the school, congratulations on your new adventure. We’ll miss you!