I’m speaking with Jim Plunkett, 2nd Kyu
Weiner Sensei: Jim-san, What led you to Aikido?
Jim-san: I have always had a passion for Martial Arts, even if I did not have the opportunity to actually practice. In the early 80’s, while in High School, I remember reading Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams. Many other Arts were discussed in the book, but it was the following passage that convinced me that one day I would practice Aikido:
“As they began to close in on him, the master remained still, calm, and poised, standing in the eye of the hurricane. Suddenly, with loud shouts, they attacked him in unison.
What happened then was magnificent. The master seemed to flow like water into the mass. Swirling between them, his black skirt seemed to surround them. Every time they reached to strike his body, it was not there. As a gyroscope spins faster and faster, it motion appears more calm; so it was with the master as he diverted the energy of his attackers a projected them one by one out of the melee.
It was over in moments. The master, still calm, his mouth in a slight smile, turned to the audience and bowed to their applause. He then bowed humbly to the student attackers who, in turn, bowed respectfully to him” Joe Hyams – Zen in the Martial Arts
Flash forward to 1988. After trying multiple other striking martial arts for short periods of time, I was lucky enough to find the Rutgers University Aikido Club. I have been hooked ever since.
Weiner Sensei: How would you describe class at our dojo?
Jim-san: Cooperative partnership is critical, you need a partner to actively train. Everyone in class has a vested interest every other student progressing and while it may sound cliche, we all care about one another.
Weiner Sensei: What are your short term goals as a student?
Jim-san: I have a few unconscious habits that have been 20+ year in the making. I need to break through them in order to step up my skill level and be a better training partner for my fellow students.
Weiner Sensei: What are your long term goals as a student?
Jim-san: – After stepping on the mat for the first time almost 30 years ago and training on and off since then, I KNOW I will be practicing in some form, for the rest of my life. In 4 years, I would like to have earned the rank of shodan, continue to grow and learn in the art by helping to teach others with the same skill and integrity as was given to me by my teachers.
Weiner Sensei: What does it take to be a committed student?
Jim-san: Learn to love the plateau! I first heard that from George Leonard, an author and Aikido instructor that I had the privilege to attend a number of classes he was teaching. For me, it means the there will be long periods in my training that will seem like I am not making progress punctuated by short periods of incremental growth. I have come to relish this “plateau.” Who knows when the next breakthrough will happen, but I know I have to be present to win!
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