How You Contribute to a Harmonious World

For almost 15 years, Durango Shin-Budo Kai has been a community resource for boosting mind-body unification, refining the spirit, and teaching nonviolent conflict resolution. As a 501(c)3, we are committed to the embodied practice of aikido as a means to increasing the peace and harmony for each practitioner, their families, the community, and beyond. As a martial art, aikido is remarkably adaptive. Its principles can be practiced by anyone of any gender, age, cultural heritage, or physical ability. (Indeed, we have welcomed onto our mats practitioners who were partially blind or wheelchair-enabled.)

While our nonprofit organization outlines our 2018 community outreach and education goals, we wanted to share the most exciting accomplishments from the last year.

Growth
New Year’s Day marked our one-year anniversary in the new dojo at 1140-A Main Ave (inside YogaDurango). Within this location, we hosted a jam-packed Open House, not to mention two successful semiannual introductory classes. We trained our bodyminds and refined our spirits during our solstice and equinox shugyos. These events brought guests from other dojos near and far, which contributed fresh zest to the training mix.

We added this blog to our website! The original articles you find there every month are generated by our own practitioners. There, we delve into what is new or old, lost or found on the path of this remarkable martial art.

Guides
DSBK once again participated in Durango 9R School District’s Keys to High School Success program where middle school students preparing to enter high school circulate through various learning stations throughout the day. With 6-8 dojo members on hand, we lead exercises that allow the young people to experience for themselves the power of relaxation, how to access calmness under stress, and what a difference it makes to center attention in the lower belly when facing a challenge. This year our participation made The Herald!

Michael Wilkinson (left) instructing the adults’ class.

In 2017, we also witnessed an important torch passed. After serving as the Kids Class Instructor for over a decade, Michael Wilkinson (4th degree black belt) retired from the post. Michael was a guide and a mentor to many, many children and teens. For some, he was a beacon—the only reliable and trustworthy adult available during those tough, transitional years. We are grateful Michael continues to practice and teach in the regular, adult classes. Meanwhile, Sky Yudron and Philip Riffe took over instruction of aikido’s next generation. They enjoyed packed classes with attendance reaching the double-digits during the long, hot summer.

Promotions
Promotions in rank occur when a student successfully demonstrates a selected range of techniques, ability, poise, and weapons exercises known as katas. Preparations for these “tests” unify the entire dojo around the candidate, generating a spirited, committed exchange of knowledge, skill, and insight. Promotions underscore the health of the dojo and the perseverance of its members. In 2017:

  • Tim Birchard earned 5th kyu (and in October, earned 4th kyu)
  • Sky Yudron earned 2nd kyu
  • Nate Brush earned 2nd kyu (and in December, earned 1st kyu)

Jenny Mason completed most of the weapons demonstrations required for Nidan, 2nd degree black belt. (Imaizumi Sensei will have the opportunity to review her promotion once she has completed all the requirements in 2018.)

Gratitude
We are all deeply grateful for the opportunity to train together, to grow and develop together, and to share the wonderful and transforming art of aikido with adults and especially the next generations in the kids’ classes. We know that this opportunity exists only because of the support of our partners and families to whom we are deeply grateful. As always, we will seek additional ways to extend our contribution to the community in the coming years. This natural rhythm of give and accept, extend and receive, inhale and exhale is fundamental to aikido and to all healthy relations.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to DSBK Aikido, a registered 501(c)3 educational non-profit. All our instructors volunteer their time for free. All funds go toward rent, insurance, and aikido outreach events and efforts in the community. Contributions allow us to keep the cost of membership as low as possible, making the practice more accessible. The ripple-effects of these benefits translate directly into your meaningful contribution to a more harmonious world.

For information about how to give, please visit our Patronage page. Or mail a check to: Steve Self, DSBK Treasurer, 120 Trail Ridge Road, Durango, CO  81301. Make the checks out to DSBK Aikido. You will be sent a receipt with the nonprofit info for taxes.

Here’s to a more harmonious 2018!

Jenny Mason is an award-winning writer and devoted aikidoka. By day she authors children's books, magazine articles, and even promotional content for local businesses. By night, she rolls, pins, and swirls on the dojo mat. She started training in 2007 and is currently ranked shodan.