Hal Lehrman, 7th dan Shihan
It was never my intention to start an Aikido school. But, as I look back at our history, I had only one path.
Aikido is a practice that has nourished me. It is a profound resource for self-exploration and growth. It has informed all of the other pursuits of my life. Aikido develops both the outward and the inner courage. It is daring, exuberant and caring.
Aikido is a very broad path. Each student brings his own spirit to the practice. One of my favorite quotes from O’Sensei, the founder of Aikido, is, “The purpose of Aikido is to give one the courage to live the most creative life possible.” It is a martial art of creation, not of destruction or of victory over others. It is an art that helps us find and invigorate our, Ki, inner strength.
I began teaching at New York Aikikai in the '70s. I moved to Brooklyn in 1976; so when the request was made to Yamada Sensei, my teacher and the Founder of the NYA, to have an instructor teach a weekly Aikido class in Brooklyn, he asked me to teach the class. I have had a dojo in Brooklyn ever since. After the death of my dear friend, Rick Stickles, I was asked to help guide the dojo in NJ. It is my pleasure and honor to help continue the growth of Aikido in NJ.
There is a concept of non-intention, in Chinese, “Wu Wei Wu” – literally Nothing Doing Nothing. It means that things happen naturally, as they should. Now over thirty years later Aikido of Park Slope is thriving. We have grown to become an exceptional gathering place for caring, creative, daring and skillful people. We have relocated 4 times, all through the efforts of our members. We are fortunate to be part of the ever-growing Aikido world with an unbroken and close connection to Yamada Sensei and the NY Aikikai.
The US Aikido Federation now has over 2000 schools in the US. Our schools, APS and ASNJ, have grown into one community; schools where friends gather, where couples have met and created families, where children come to play and people grow. The path has led to these dojos to become places where many have found the excitement of this practice; where we can wake up, refresh and grow. For that I am very grateful.