Now a dan grade (black belt) doesn’t mean that you are ‘hard as nails’, although some people are. Phil Newcombe Sensei, has beaten cancer more times than I’ve won tournaments. Some would say that these high ranking, long time players are naturally talented, hence where they have reached. Some would say it’s hard work and dedication over many many years.
In my opinion its a combination of both, if you want to be a super-star athlete, the likes of Usain Bolt, Lionel Messi and Roger Federer, pick the right parents. Having the right genes count, a lot! However who trained these people? Who trained with them when they were only beginning. Who took them to class when the weather was bad? What motivated them to continue training and never stop training!
The old saying. ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ comes to mind. In my opinion there are countless untapped talented people out there. Who have just never had the opportunity to reach their full potential. Opportunity, time, good training, people to train with and to be trained by!
I have been lucky to have a shodokan aikido dan grade (fresh from Japan), Jerome Chin Aleong be my first instructor. The level of proficiency has never left me. Then to have all of the above senior dan grades teach me, some times one on one. I still remember Scott Albright’s lecture about making a positive reaction to an aggressive attack, big hugs all around! You try and throw a punch when someone is hugging you! The method may have been awkward but the lesson was learnt.
So I teach these lessons to the next generation, the kids who’s parents have the time and want their children to have something like shodokan aikido in their lives. Personally I’m envious of them starting at such a young age. Learning from a high grade, sports coach and teacher who tops his knowledge every year in Japan . What they will achieve in the future can be and should be amazing. All that’s left to be done is the nurturing, the engagement with aikido and training through puberty, school life and adulthood beckoning.
One thing for sure, we will have the depth and knowledge amongst us, with all our new instructors, who have been to shodokan headquaters in Japan. We will also have the support of parents, mom’s who drive things forward by coming every week! Nothing bets community power!