An Aikido Anniversary

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.

Buck Pittman and Herve Devos, circa 1998

2 thoughts on “An Aikido Anniversary

  1. Dee, thank you for the tribute. If I can offer one kernel of wisdom after 20 years, it would be to keep training. There were many years when raising a family or work kept me from training regularly and I would be lucky to get one day in a week at the dojo. But my wife, Laura Jane, recognized early on how good it was for my well-being–and hers. She would encourage me to go so I would be more relaxed and happier when I came home. So this is the Do in our practice–just keep training and great things will happen.

    Like meeting all the wonderful people I would have never met otherwise, from all walks of life, different countries, male and female, young and old, rich and poor. On the mat, all those distinctions disappear and it’s only Aikido that matters. Off the mat, it’s still Aikido that we share, often along with a beer. The picture that is posted is a classic example: that’s Herve, who is French and a super cool person, who also takes his ukemi seriously!

    I am really grateful to have made it 20 years in this practice and to have been a part of this special dojo, that has grown slowly into one of the best in our state, which is saying something. I’ve been a part of that evolution, but the credit for our success goes to Dee who took the reins and has been unfailingly committed to our success. Meeting Jerry on the mat was another example of how training will change your life, and together the two of them took our dojo to the next level. Running a dojo is not like just showing up to train: it’s a labor of love and I thank you both for that.

    And so I’ll close with the bookend to our 5th Kyu test. There was another name that was called out along with mine that didn’t seem to belong to anyone. We all looked around when Peter called out for Mary to come forward. Of course, this was and is our very own Mary Dee Seabolt, who is one of my closest friends in the world, thanks to Aikido. Kanpai!

Comments are closed.