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Belgium 2010 5th Dan Gradings G. Cooke, B. Kennedy R. Costigan

Barbara Moss

Earlier this year a few of us were talking about how nice it would be to visit Brussels. Many of the past and present Aikido members have happy memories of our annual trips in September, when we went to train and eligible participants took their Dan grade examinations under the direction of Sensei Thielemans 6th Dan.

 I had been giving the promotion of the senior instructors of Yama Arashi a good deal of thought  and was undecided about the best approach  to keep it as a total surprise. Earlier this year, we had information from Sensei Tony Thielemans, the head of our association, that he was to teach his last class on October 14th which was obviously going to be a very special occasion. After contacting Sensei he confirmed that he was more than happy to award  these special gradings on that day, so then the difficult part was to make sure that they could all go to Brussels at that time and also their partners!

It all worked out well and was a great weekend,  just like old times, with lots of memories and stories of past years related by those who could still remember them!

The 5th Dan gradings were awarded after the 2 hour course on Thursday evening and I was so pleased that it came as a total surprise to the three of them, Grev Cooke, Brian Kennedy and Ric Costigan. Sensei Thielemans received many retirement presents after the class and then we celebrated at a reception at the centre where we met up with old friends from Yama Arashi who we had not seen for a number of years. I was so pleased that Ros Jan and Christelle were there to enjoy the presentations but only wished that more could have been there to celebrate the happy event. The members who joined us were so pleased, I know, to be there at such a special occasion.

 The next day we had a relaxing day shopping and walked to the Grand Sablon area to show the newer members where we took our examinations.

The next evening, Friday, we went to the dojo for another two hour session with Sensei Thielemans, who picked one or two of us to demonstrate a technique to the class.

The weekend was finished off with a meal at a restaurant in the centre of Brussels with friends and members of Sensei.

Last Thursday another presentation was made to Grev, Brian and Ric at our dojo, so that the members could witness the occasion and also to Martin whose certificate was signed by Sensei during the weekend as he was awarded his 4th Dan, last September.

 I was extremely happy to present the 5th Dan awards.  As well as their Aikido technique and teaching, they all give 100% to the club and to Yama Arashi UK in so many ways. They work together as a team for the good of the club and have coped well with extra responsibility placed upon them after losing their Sensei and also their friend Tom Moss.

 Well Done and Congratulations!

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