Last night marked the end of an era. One of the Kokikai Aikido dojos is closing, after many years of service to the community. The head instructors threw a farewell party at the dojo, which began with a fine demonstration from the Kokikai Demo Team, and then the mat was opened up to all students, mostly by pairs, both in uniform and in street clothes, to throw each other on the mat one last time. One of the instructors played on a shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute, throughout all the throwing, lending serenity to an otherwise active display.
The mat was then taken apart and put on a truck in preparation for the upcoming Summer Camp. A buffet of delicious Chinese food followed, with much mingling about. Then, several people gave speeches as a toast to the dojo and to the head instructors. Everyone spoke on how the dojo brought people together, and the appreciation everyone had for Sensei. Ron, one of my favorite folks, had the simplest, and most heartfelt toast: “Share the love, everybody.”
There was an auction of items remaining in the dojo that included Japanese ornamental scrolls, weapons racks, and pictures. At the end, everyone had a piece of cake on which was written, “Change is Good.”
The Philadelphia dojos will merge together, and soon, we will be moving to a new location to accommodate the expansion.
Kokikai Summer Camp starts today. I’ll be going on Saturday, and will try to give a report then.