"Dedicated to my Aikido North family"
As dojo-cho, I was filled with enthusiasm and motivation when I took this responsibility. Over the years, I have been "recharged" by the energy put forth by my fellow instructors and students. It is easy to continue in my role when I see the joy and the technical accomplishments of my fellow Aikido practitioners. It is easy when I share in the friendship and love of these people I call my friends.
Unfortunately, at times when attendance is low or things seem to stand still, I ask myself why I continue to do this. Why do I remain when others take time off to pursue other interests like fishing, camping, and partying? Why should I invest so much time and effort? During these low periods, I look for something more to sustain me. I look for the basic reason why I stay involved. Am I looking to make this my mark in life? Is it to be known as Sensei and to have students revere and remember me long after I have left? This is not what I am, this is not what I need to be fulfilled. This is not what motivates me.
My reason is "ON." As a third generation Japanese-American, I was raised with the old values of rural Japan. These values have stayed with me through my adulthood and have guided me in every aspect of my life. ON is one of the most important values of Old Japan. ON is the term for "obligation to the family, parents, teachers, elders and the community." It is an all pervasive commitment to return the sacrifices they have made for us by bettering ourselves and our environment, and by helping others. The reason why I stay in Aikido and remain as dojo-cho is to pass on the lessons and experiences I have learned. These lessons have made me the whole person I am today. I see myself as an honest and honorable individual, not perfect, but one willing to see things as they truly are and to learn from them or correct them as appropriate. It is my hope to pass on this very valuable lesson of ON.
I train, I teach, and I try to guide my Aikido family on their path to their own special enlightenment. Through guidance and example, I try to help them experience and learn for themselves the correct path to take. I try not to lead or control for fear of producing followers. I believe the only way for people to continue to grow, is for them to learn to see things clearly. They must understand the small but significant part each of us plays to make this a better world for our friends and loved ones, and for those who will come after us.
When people take the time without my asking, to mop the mats, vacuum the floors, and clean the windows, I see ON. When I see these same people taking care of their ukes, taking the time to patiently and gently work with a new student, I see this commitment being carried on by this generation of Aikidoists. I see a commitment that will be passed on to future generations of Aikidoists. This is what keeps me going as dojo-cho. It is not my legacy that I see forming. It is the legacy of love and commitment to the future generations to better this little piece of our world. It is their way to repay the kindness and love others have shared with them as they have traveled the path. This is what makes me proudest. This is what sustains me.
My deepest heart-felt thanks to all of you who have trained and shared in the joys of Aikido with me. Thank you for letting me share in your energy, enthusiasm, and in your love of this art and your fellow practitioners. Mostly, thank you for learning and bettering yourself, and for passing this legacy of ON to those who will come to the dojo seeking their own personal enlightenment through the study of Aikido.
Calvin Koshiyama, July 6th, 1996, Aikido North