With a 6-7 year background in Aikido, I started training in Daitoryu in 1997.
We trained as part of the NC Roppokai Group in Huntersville until 2000, when that leader was expelled from the organization.
Around that same time, I was in a car wreck. I did not actively train for about 10 months.
Every day, I practiced what I had learned, and watched videos from our seminars with Sensei.
I usually practiced an hour or more, daily, the motions that Sensei taught us.
Sensei used to talk about "drawing" a shape, and repeating that shape until it was pristine. You could make the shape, from larger to smaller, until it became "internal."
This was the beginning . . .
Around early 2001, I got a call from Howard Popkin. Sensei Popkin was then head of the New York Shibu of the Daitoryu Aikijujutsu Roppokai. He had found me on the internet, and remembered me as part of the old North Carolina Group. I told him that I'd been writing letters to Japan for about 6 months, and that I wanted to continue my training.
Howard "vouched" for me, asking Sensei if I could attend the next New York seminar.
I was told that I would be allowed to attend, but it was not guaranteed that I would be able to "get on the mat."
Though a brown belt at the time, I drove to NY, put on a white belt, and asked permission to train.
It was granted. After the first day of training, Howard asked Sensei if I could retain my rank. He agreed, and I resumed my former rank.
We were given permission to start our group in 2001. We became an official branch when we first brought Sensei back to North Carolina.
And I've been training ever since.
Sadly, Sensei suffered a stroke in 2008. While he is still actively teaching, it became more difficult for him to resume his former overseas travel schedule.
Howard and I travelled to Japan for gasshuku in 2008. In 2009, Sensei came to the California branch. But we were now in a very difficult position.
Sensei was not travelling.
We could not attract or retain new students, since they were not considered for any rank until having worked out with Sensei.
And, as part of a classical system, the only opinion about the art came from Sensei. That meant that we could not advertise, express our opinions on technique, the art, etc. or demonstrate to non-members without permission.
Can you imagine going to a martial arts school, and the teacher comes over to tell you that you may not see the techniques until you have joined?
We maintained a dojo for 10 years, and always trained faithfully according to all rules and regulations of the Roppokai. But our membership started to dwindle when we could not continue training or ranking our members. So, in 2011, we left the Roppokai.
We have since become part of the Daitoryu Aikijujutsu Ginjukai in an effort to promote and honor the art, continue training, and ensure that our Master's
Daitoryu Aikijujutsu continues in the United States.
Sensei once stated:
I train myself, daily, to attain the skill of my Master.
Sensei's Master, Horikawa Kodo, died in 1980. And my Master continues to train himself, daily.
We do the same.