Our long-time friend and mentor, Nick Lowry was interviewed by Martial Arts Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Way to go, Nick! You can read part two of the article here.
Congratulations, Heather, on getting interviewed by Martial Arts of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow! You can read the interesting article where Heather talks about her martial arts career here.
Henry Copeland was a wonderful mentor and friend. He passed on March 6, 2023. His Obituary can be read here. You can read an article about him written by Pat Parker here.
He was an incredible martial artist and loved by many. We all called him "Big Henry" not just because he was so tall, but also because he had a big heart and big presence in the room. He was an incredibly strong man and could be a brick wall when he wanted to be. But most of the time, he would throw you with such skill you never even felt the fall. One second you would be upright. The next you would be staring at the ceiling wondering how you got thrown to the floor.
In one of my favorite tricks of his, he would start by placing his hands above my arms so that he was barely touching the arm hairs. I couldn't feel a thing. Then, we would step back and forth in sync. His timing was so incredible he would simply lift one hand and I would go flying through the air. It was amazing!
One time during a seminar, there was a huge crowd of us all trying to sleep on the spring-loaded mat in Houston. Henry had to get up in the middle of the night. He was so large his steps shook the whole floor. Someone yelled, "Henry! We're trying to sleep!" Mid-step, Henry changed his walking and seemed to disappear. I watched him continue walking, but no one could feel him. It was incredible. I couldn't think of anyone else who could do that - much less such a large man!
Roy and I started dating during a seminar. Henry was very protective of me and wasn't sure about this whole Roy thing. We could almost hear him rack an imaginary shotgun in Roy's direction, like a daddy on a front porch. (Roy survived and we're happily married. He can still see Henry watching over me to make sure he's keeping in line!)
When I first met Henry, I thought speed, power, and precision were the keys to being a good martial artist. He corrected those mistakes and taught me the beauty of a light touch, patience, timing, and high level kazushi. He took me under his wing and was incredibly patient and never gave up on me.
He was a quiet man and one of the smartest men I've ever met - and I grew up in a community with one of the highest rates of PhD per capita in the United States.
I owe my martial arts career to him. Thank you, Henry for all the wonderful memories. You are deeply missed.
I love this happy yellow belt promotion photo from Lucky Dog Dojo! Congratulations, Whitney Lesiuk! You're doing great!
The original post was here:
It's not every day you get a compliment like this from such an esteemed martial artist. Thank you, Pat Parker, for your glowing review!
"The folks at Shinju Dojo are absolutely top notch at what they do, which is to teach the traditional martial arts of aikido, judo, and jodo for automatic, reliable self-defense in a friendly, positive environment.
I recall the first time I did randori (sparring) with Heather-sensei at a clinic in Houston sometime around 1997 or 1998. I think she was around 2nd degree black belt and I was around 3rd but I couldn't touch her! She slipped or redirected or otherwise just walked out of everything I tried to do to her. It was a very humbling and educational experience that I've meditated on for years.
And Roy-sensei is not just chopped liver either!"
A Great Christmas Present
by Heather Gawlick
Yesterday, a dear friend of mine I have known for a long time gave me a beautiful Christmas gift.
I had missed his call and we were playing telephone tag. My initial reaction when we connected was it had to have something to do with dojo business. Nope. That had nothing to do with it.
He called to sing me a Christmas carol in a way only this man can.
He has an amazing, booming singing voice. It can carry soulful tunes for miles and through your very heart. I love it when he sings.
He called to sing a silly song and make me laugh. It worked. I smiled the rest of the day.
Thank you again. You are truly generous. I am very blessed to have you for my friend. It was the perfect Christmas present.
May all you out there in cyberspace have friends who love you for who you are and surprise you with gifts of love and joy.
Making Friends with Strangers
by Heather Gawlick
During a recent trip, I took a shuttle from the airport to my destination. I asked the driver if he wanted me in the front seat to keep him company during the hour and a half drive. He looked happily surprised and said, "Yes!"
We struck up a conversation about nothing in particular but made each other laugh. Laughing made the gridlock traffic disappear and turned the ride into a short one. I made sure to arrange for the same driver on the way back to the airport and we had just as much fun. I felt like I had made a lifelong friend in our accidental meeting.
My husband's grandfather was always making friends with anyone he met. He only spoke German, but he never let a silly thing like a language barrier get in the way of making a new friend. My husband's family were always finding him carrying on and sharing a laugh when neither party had any idea what the other one was saying.
My grandfather was like that. Once when I was a child, he was taking me to the playground when he met an old World War I soldier. My grandfather had served in World War II. I was in awe listening to them swap tales. My grandfather couldn't believe I wasn't playing at the playground. There was no way I was going to waste time playing when I could listen to those two trade stories. I knew this was a once in a lifetime conversation and I will always cherish the memory.
Part of the reason I enjoy going to aikido seminars so much is because it gives me a chance to meet new people from all walks of life that I would never otherwise have a chance to meet. Doctors, lawyers, janitors, unemployed people, FBI agents, and mafia members have all been in the same room at the same time enjoying each other's company.
People enrich our lives. It matters not if they are the dishwasher or the president. Take some time to listen and share stories with a stranger. You never know what gems are awaiting you!
Why do I love the martial arts so much?
by Heather Gawlick
After last week's post, I thought the natural thing to talk about next would be why I love the martial arts so much. After all, I've been at it since 1994.
Yup. That's it. That's the whole thing.
Sure, I've done no-hands rolls flipping over lines of crouched people. Sure, I've let a giant Buddha-looking guy come at me full force with a wooden sword while I'm armed only with forgetting the technique to defend myself and lived to tell the tale. Sure, I've let guys at least a foot taller than me toss me face-first over their shoulders in the most nerve-wracking throw I know. Sure, I've grappled with some of the top judo guys in the United States and came up smiling...
But, it all comes down to the people.
These guys and gals have been family to me and more. They are the kind of people who give you great big hugs and make you cry with happiness when you finally get to show up after not being there ten years because life made you move so far away.
They are the kind of people who always make you feel loved - no matter if your current life situation is good or bad. They love you even if you have done something stupid and will help you get back on track.
They are the kind of people who take your son out for ice cream with a wink "behind mom's back," like a favorite uncle.
They are the kind of people who make you smile and are always happy to see you.
They are the kind of people who you can call if you are stranded on the highway. You may not even know them. You call saying you are a part of the family, and they would show up, rescue you, give you the shirt off their back, buy you dinner, insist you stay at their place for the night, then take you to class the next morning.
They are the kind of people you can leave your purse or wallet on the front porch for days in a major city, forgetting about it only to find it exactly the way you left it. Heck, I've even watched some people leave bills on a table and it's still there hours later when they get back.
They are the kind of people you willingly allow to put your body in some pretty serious positions where things could get broken in really nasty ways. They really are the kind of people you can trust with your life and they trust you with theirs.
You become a part of the best kind of family on the face of the earth. If you ever find yourself in a group like that, hold on to those people for dear life. They will enrich you completely.
Yup. It's all about the people.
Thank you to all my dojo friends out there. I can never repay you enough for all the unconditional love you have given me. Come on over any time!
Heather and Roy Gawlick love Aikido and have a passion for sharing it with others. They hope you'll catch the Aikido bug, too!
Shinju Dojo Aikido Martial Arts School in Longview / Kelso, Washington