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  • Writer's pictureSensei Jay

My Last Letter of 2019

December 31, 2019

I wanted to thank everyone for being part of our ASNJ family. I am sitting up by the fire in Maine (avoiding going out to chop wood as it is 18 degrees out) and looking back on 2019, I can't help but smile remembering all of our great moments.

  • Taking classes with old and new friends. My time on the mat is still the highlight for me

  • Having Danny, Frank and Derrell assume their director position of ASNJ Adult, Kids and Iaido programs

  • Give Frank and Danny their FukoShidoin certificates

  • All the teachers who share their years of experience with all of the students

  • Having Tom, a veteran of NYA join our teaching staff and for his not cutting his hair again

  • Meeting new people both new members at ASNJ and traveling to other dojo's (like meeting Sensei Songbird on my trip to Austin Texas)

  • The Halloween class with all the great costumes -(Ben as DeadPool, Vanessa as something from Star Wars, Naelys as a cat or was that last year, Jeremy as a wrestler, Frank as a fancy boy)

  • My pride as sensei watching the kyu tests and thinking about how much growth and learning has happened at the dojo

  • How thankful I am with all the people that go the extra mile – Mariella, Shari, and Paul for handling the front desk, Omar for keeping the place together, Vanessa and Matt for social media, Michelle and Sergio for the Big Sempai program, Nanci and Cynthia for the home school class, and everyone else who helps makes ASNJ a special place

  • The break falls I've taken from some of the teens (you guys know who you are). I am thankful to experience your skill, I am not thankful for doing it on the ‘hard’ mat

  • Smiles. I will never forget all the smiles on people faces during the year

  • When Danny finished getting the Rank Paddles in order and seeing all the new names

  • All the parties, from the summer BBQ to the pots of Chili from Connie, and the Ravioli from Danny and Annie, or watching Paul as the grill master

  • The long planning meetings with Danny, Derrell, Paul, Frank, anyone else who joined us, and the bottles we have shared

  • The people I will miss that have moved away or moved on

  • Spending time at summer camp with some of you, and friends from other dojo’s

  • Watching Kids test for 5th kyu and join the adult program - Ben, Sofi, Jorge, Diego, Madelyn, Gaby. You guys are our future. Also, OMG, you guys are great.

  • Watching people try to slide the new door open – again and again

  • Handing out Junior Deshi patches to Diego and Madelyn

  • The class trips Frank organized to Yamada Sensei and Hal Sensei's and with our teens and adults

  • Seeing a new Gi come out of the closet given to a new student becoming a regular event

  • Seeing Derrell bring the Iaido programs back to life and showing the dojo a great demo.

  • Enjoying some quiet moments on the sort of new couches with friends after class just doing nothing but doing it together

  • Texting with "the gang" at 5am about.... well I will leave those details out

  • Seeing the memorial to Sensei Stickles and being able to share our memories and his legacy with the dojo

  • Painting the Ladies dressing room with Nanci, Naelys, Shanaia, Mariella, Anna, and Michelle and making it as nice as you guys. I think I still owe you a rug?

  • Spending time with each of the instructors and starting a teacher’s class

  • The great seminars we had and planning new ones for 2020

  • All the happy faces at the kid’s seminar, watching Jim, Crystal, Derrell and Tom teach a sea of kids, and donating to $1,500 UNICEF

  • Wearing my Camo Hakama made by my son Zachary

  • Seeing the 4 of you test (Omar, Annie, George and Paul) for nidan and shodan at NYA

  • Teaching class and driving you guys a little crazy trying new things. And you all thought Aikido was easy

  • Seeing Aha moments when someone gets it

  • Being there for some of you with a dry shoulder to help through some of the tougher moments

  • I am sure I am missing another 20 memories, but I sent out enough emails during the year for you all to just go re-read them and let me know what I missed.

I am immensely proud and honored to be your Sensei and want to thank all of you for all those memories.

As I finish this letter with some tears in my eyes, I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday and all the blessings in the world. I look forward to what 2020 will bring and thank God that I can share it with each and every one of you.

Have a happy holiday and a great new year.

--Sensei Jay

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