Aikido Center of Jacksonville
Dojo Newsletter May 2008

Your Aikido Newsletter
This issue marks a milestone for our online newsletter.  After three months of spectacular growth, we've now surpassed our yearly goal for new subscribers – nine months early.  We owe this, of course, entirely to you, our readers.  We're gratified our reception has been so warm, and we give you our heartfelt thanks.  We also pledge to continue doing what we do best – providing you with timely news of the local Aikido scene, and serving as your online source for Aikido in Jacksonville.

Blast from the Past
In keeping with the festive mood, we thought we'd share with you the ghosts of websites past, courtesy of the Wayback Machine.  Now, from the safety of your computer, you can thrill to our March 2002 page, experience the terror of our February 2003 page, and cringe in fear at our December 2004 page.  (Bonus points if you can spot the differences.)  We've come a long way, baby!

Membership Drive
It's that time of year again – our summer membership drive.  To kickstart the event, we've attached to your newsletter our newly designed school flyer, hot off the dojo press.  You can pass it to your coworker, tape it to your desk, or even create a beautiful origami bird.  Just don't let it gather dust.  Let's get the word out!

Online Store
We can now confirm that the rumors are true: We'll soon be opening an online Aikido store, which will carry everything the discerning Aikidoka might need.  (Well, we'll probably start off with coffee cups.)  I know we have some talented and creative people in our school; so, if you have any suggestions or ideas, (or bequests), feel free to let us know.

Orlando Bound
By consensus, it appears that our next dojo trip will be to Orlando.  While there, we would train with Ed Di Marco Sensei at Lake County Aikikai, as well as check out the local flora and fauna.  We still need a firm headcount, however.  So what are you waiting for?  Email us!


Instructor Spotlight Mike Sands
This month we shine our spotlight on Mike Sands, one of our talented and multifaceted Aikido instructors.  You may know Mike from his skills on the mat.  What you may not know are his skills off the mat, or his background learning Aikido under a protégé of Chiba Sensei.

Mike was first exposed to Aikido in the 1970's, while living in San Francisco.  He recalls Mike throwing Tonyaseeing an Aikido demonstration, and was impressed by the grace and obvious effectiveness of the art.  A decade later, after relocating to Massachusetts, he began his training in earnest under the direction of Lorraine DiAnne Sensei, a student of T.K. Chiba Sensei.  At about that time DiAnnne Sensei had moved her dojo from Berkeley, California to Springfield, Massachusetts.  Mike remembers the moment he found his martial calling: "One demonstration by DiAnne Sensei, with her beautifully executed, crisp technique, confirmed my desire to study Aikido."

The lessons Mike learned under DiAnne Sensei have stayed with him to this day.  "DiAnne Sensei studied in Japan under Chiba Sensei, and imparted a traditional formal atmosphere to the dojo.  Etiquette was stressed as an integral part of the learning and practice of Aikido.  Also, respect for your uke and the sense that uke was lending their body for you to practice your technique."  In such an environment, "it was your responsibility to keep your uke from harm, while at the same time it was uke's responsibility to perform the attack in as realistic a fashion as possible."

According to Mike, this philosophy pervaded his practice sessions and is something he stresses in his classes today.

Another highlight of Mike's classes is his dedication to weapons training.  He believes it essential to improving empty handed technique.  Interestingly, he draws a distinction between aiki-ken and other sword arts, such as kendo or fencing.  According to Mike, bokken training is principally aimed at reinforcing Aikido principles, in particular posture and centering.  It is this focus which he believes may confound newer students, who may liken bokken training as a set of techniques distinct from the art itself.

Aikido is not the only martial art which has captured Mike's attention, however.  He has shodan rank in Iaido, and has studied Tae Kwon Do, Ishin Ryu Karate, and Goju Kai Karate.

Mike is also an inspiration off the mat.  A physician and Associate Professor of Medicine at Dr. Michael L. Sandsthe University of Florida College of Medicine, he is the Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at Shands Hospital, as well as the Director of its Infectious Disease Fellowship Program.  He has multiple Board Certifications, and has a clinical and academic interest in HIV/AIDS, public health, and medical microbiology.

When asked about a favorite Chiba Sensei "war story", Mike would invariably return to Sensei's strict expectation of proper etiquette on the mat.  At one seminar, approximately twenty years ago, after observing a particularly exuberant shodan pummeling a clearly inexperienced student, Sensei called the black belt up as his uke.  From a simple wrist grab, Sensei threw the unlucky fellow into the second row of observers.  It is a lesson that bears repeating: Take care of your uke.  You never know when a shihan is watching you!

Mike's teaching schedule, along with our other instructors, can be found in our class calendar.


Seminar Announcements
Brevard Aikikai will be celebrating its move to a new training space with a seminar on Saturday, May 17.  The featured instructor will be Grady Lane Sensei, and the cost is a very reasonable $30.  Other scheduled instructors include Alan Drysdale Sensei of Enmei Dojo and Randy Beck Sensei of Sand Drift Aikido.  As usual, we hope to organize a carpool.  Interested students should contact Sensei.

Our school has been asked to participate in a non-violence workshop sponsored by Professor John Maraldo of the Department of Philosophy at the University of North Florida.  The workshop will take place on Thursday, April 24 at 5:30 p.m., on the Green outside Building 45.  Jerry and Tonya are scheduled to demonstrate, but all students are invited to attend.  Professor Maraldo, a UNF Distinguished Professor, specializes in Asian and Comparative Philosophy, Japanese Philosophy, Phenomenology, Philosophy of Self, and Philosophy of Religion.

The Asian American Heritage Celebration for 2008 is scheduled for Thursday, May 15, from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. in Building 14.  We have been asked to contribute to the festivities, which are sponsored by the Intercultural Center for PEACE.  Please let Sensei know if you wish to participate in an Aikido demonstration.