We haven't returned to Kendo with any regularity due to Aimee's school work load We are also have the option of a second school in South Sacramento.
Finding an Aikido dojo was a different experience altogether. Having done a search for all possibilities in the area, we were able to determine that there were 4 schools that taught Aikido. So the first week after we settled in we decided to make one week a sort of Budopallooza. We would visit a different Aikido each night. The whole experience was a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The first style was too hard. The style was regimented based off of ritualistic forms and almost militaristic. The second style was too soft. It focused on energy extension and was lacking is action to the point of being meditative. The final style was just right. It had both energy and flow. It was medative but with connection to the art as a whole. It all of the people in the school were kind and were genuine in welcoming her.
While all of the schools acknowledged how skilled she was, it was this last school that most closely matched her style as well as showed her a direction where she wanted to go. Of all of the dojos she had been to, this was also the most Japanese and had the greatest influence culturally. Having been experienced with so many years in the martial arts it was good to know that she was able to make the move and continue on the path with her studies. It was good to see that she was able to transition from a couple of great schools to new schools in Northern California that were just as great with the difference of styles providing a fresh start and a new direction.
Each of the Sensei's from each of the dojos commented on her abilities and experience. But it was the last that noticed her abilities as a whole. After 9 years of study she had gained the ability to learn and know all of the kihon wazas (foundational forms) as well as have a strong spirit throughout the training. The last sensei her out on the floor as both uke (receiver) and nage (thrower) and put her through her paces at full speed in front of the entire class. There was quite a bit of murmering during the exercise as Aimee repeated the throwing and falling some 20 times or more in rapid succession, flowing and withoug stopping. After the class we had quite a few of the students and several of the black belts mention what a joy it was to work with her.
We had returned a week later and when we came in over heard one of the instructors talking to another instructor telling him how great she though she was. Aimee was silently overjoied to hear the comment. It was nice to see as a matter of confirmation that she had acquired the skills to be considered an experienced and accomplished Aikidokaist. While all of her years, and rank may or may not matriculate directly into her new school, I think that all of her expreience and abilities will translate and will balance out. As the Dojo Cho put it, "I can see that she has all of the moves." Hearing that only confirmed my thoughts that Aimee had gained the skills to be able to join an adult class and keep up with all of the black belts. Some of the comments from the other black belts have been' "She has great Ki extension" or "Her ukemi flows and she is a joy to watch." All of those kind comments came as a relief to know that All of those years of practice had paid off. Not bad for a kid.
"..And though she be but little, she is fierce." Wm. Shakespeare