- Annie Small
Women’s History Month
This week is a different letter. I did not write it other than this introduction I gave the mat over to the Women of ASNJ to celebrate Women’s History Month with a special class. This is from Annie Small about the evening. And without further ado – Celebrating the Women of ASNJ or Annie’s Story:
On Thursday, March 18, I had the honor of celebrating Women’s History Month with the amazing women of ASNJ with whom I train. With the support of the dojo, Vanessa and I planned an evening of meditation, stories, and Aikido training for the celebration of womanhood!! Vanessa started the class with all of us sitting in a circle, a symbol of Aikido, and we went around the circle talking about how Aikido has influenced our lives, what Aikido has meant to us as a practice, how difficult it was during the pandemic not training or seeing our “family” and how happy we were seeing each other again. We were a remarkably diverse group in age, nationality, and in our Aikido training. There were mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters but most importantly, friends. We heard stories that moved us to tears, as in the case of Kelsey, telling us how she started in Aikido at the age of seven and there were times, as we all may have felt, where she was not in the mood to train. And as she wiped her tears, she said it was not until the pandemic and could not train or see her “family” for a year that she realized what Aikido meant to her. It had become a “part of her.” Truly beautiful. All of the stories told that evening were beautiful: How we came to the dojo as women to celebrate accomplishments, to leave the world outside as we fill ourselves with the knowledge we were to receive, to heal when we have sadness that comes into our lives, and to become stronger in mind and in movement.
We asked different instructors to teach a technique or two which was a lot of fun. Sempei Connie started us off doing the warmup and two techniques, followed by Sempei Olga, myself, Vanessa, Naelys, Shanaia, Eva and Sofia. Each instructor shared their favorite Aikido technique. It was beautiful to see and experience. My heart was full of love watching the young “up and comers” like Naelys, Shanaia, Eva, and Sofia.
We ended the night with a pizza party and the emotion in the dojo was uplifting and moving. All the women talked about how much they enjoyed the evening and that we should have events like this more often. Hearing that was absolutely wonderful!
I want to thank everyone that was involved, Sensei Jay, all the instructors, and the students that attended, and an incredibly special thank you to Vanessa who shared her vision with me so we could make it happen!
Nidan and Instructor
Aikido Schools of NJ