In my Aikido career, approaching 15 years, there have been plenty of students that have come and gone but every now and then a select few get to the first finish line and reach Shodan (First Degree Blackbelt) and after that usually 3-5 years later an even smaller amount reach Nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt). So one of my proudest moments as an Aikido teacher, student and friend was when our latest Nidan promotion happened and it happened to be our very own Jim Hyde. Jim has been a driving force in our dojo. He’s worked very hard in his practice, his understanding of ‘Aiki’, his ukemi and in the recent years developing into a fine instructor. He teaches the basics ukemi class on Tuesdays. But his promotion wasn’t just about his ability to improve his technique or the preparation that went into it. But for me, Jim has been a very close student, a personal mentee of mine. The times we’ve spent together training, traveling to seminars, camps, talking about Aikido, the USAF, the dojo, etc. have been very special to me.
I saw a lot in him from his very first day on the mat. In his smaller body frame, he packed quite a punch (pardon the poor expression) but what I mean is his attitude and training habits have made him an excellent mentor to a lot of students in our dojo. A lot of them started before him and was promoted after him. He’s never displayed an Ego. He’s never shown a poor attitude.
On a personal note, when you find someone like that in the dojo that adopts of your style, belief, etc. it’s not hard to believe that they become a friend off the mat or in Jim’s case a very good friend. He’s been to many birthday celebrations at my house, traveling out of the country last year to help me celebrate my ‘vow renewal’ my non-aikido friends like him a lot and my wife adores him. Jim is extremely easy going, a trait I must learn from him 🙂 he’s willing to accommodate everyone. He’s someone I can count on and learn from him as much as he’s learned from me. So when Jim recently took his Nidan test, not only did he impress me as one of my aikido mentees, but he impressed me as a friend. And for that I am very proud of him.