Raffle Prizes and Devil Eyes

By Cecilia Ramos, Grass Valley Aikikai  

Every year at Summer Camp we have a fabulous raffle to raise money for Birankai North America’s Scholarship Program. Prizes range from small to large. Many are handmade by our members and the grand prize is Summer Camp for the following year. I would like to encourage everyone to buy raffle tickets and donate prizes.

A few years back I won a set of three porcelain “whiskey” cups. They were lovely, but I couldn’t figure out why they were called whiskey cups. I packed them carefully to survive traveling home in my suitcase and was relieved that they arrived undamaged. Putting them on the shelf I noticed they weren’t straight and looked again for damage. That was when I realized they had been made crooked on purpose, like they were drunk! Hence the name! Whiskey Cups! I treasure them and love their crookedness.

Last year Neal Dunnigan Sensei, chief instructor of Wheatbelt Aikikai, won a piece of calligraphy brushed by Chiba Sensei. It was donated by Lizzy Lynn Sensei, who herself had won it as a raffle prize years before at a camp in San Diego. She rolled it into a tube to get it back to her dojo in Northern California, and then had it framed. It was quite large, perhaps five feet tall, but narrow. When she decided to donate it back, the size became a problem, as it seemed a pity to take it out of the frame. The solution was to ask Carole Gifford to drive it three hours to Grass Valley, as she was coming to our Mountain Weapons Seminar. Then my student Iris Vandevorst’s family drove it up to Seattle. In between the seminar and camp, the beautiful calligraphy leaned against the back wall in my dojo and I Continue reading “Raffle Prizes and Devil Eyes”

Inspiring the Next Generation

This fantastic new video from the T.K. and Mitsuko Chiba Seminar Endowment Fund explains the value of Birankai Aikido events in the voices of students. Featured are practitioners from Aikido of Albuquerque, run by Philip and Bernadette Vargas, and Clallam Aikikai, run by Neilu Naini.

With the spring seminar season in full swing and the Instructor Intensive and 2015 Summer Camp approaching, it’s a good time to reflect on the importance of Birankai events and help support our efforts. Seminars raise our level of Aikido, Iaido and Zazen training, and the Endowment Fund helps pay for instructing and expenses. Our national goal is to raise $400,000 in four years and we are already funding seminars through the endowment.

Donate today through the endowment page on the Birankai.org website or visit the T.K. & Mitsuko Chiba Endowment Fund Facebook page.

Also check out the videos below from the recent Birankai East Regional Seminar at Green River Aikido where participants raised $650 through a raffle for the Endowment Fund. Thanks to everyone!

– L. Klein

A Cut Above

Birankai Aikido FundraiserOn January 3, 2015, members of Birankai dojo Fearless Heart Aikido in New Hope, Penn., participated in “1,000 Cuts for Charity Suburi-thon.” Participants committed to make 1,000 suburi cuts with the bokken and to find sponsors who would pledge a contribution for each cut.

Prior to the suburi-thon, none of the students had completed more than 100 or 200 cuts; some barely knew how to hold a bokken. For most students, a thousand cuts was pretty daunting. However, they rose to the challenge, practicing their cuts and building their endurance in the weeks leading up to the event.

Fearless Heart Aikido Chief Instructors Helen Tai and John McDevitt organized the fundraiser to celebrate the dojo’s two-year anniversary. The celebration provided an opportunity for the students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits, to improve their cutting technique, to work together toward a common goal, to have some fun, and to raise money for two very worthwhile charities.

Benefiting from the event are Fisherman’s Mark, a non-profit organization in nearby Lambertville, N.J., that offers assistance to low-income individuals and families, and the Birankai North America Seminar Endowment Fund, which supports Aikido events and scholarships.

Congratulations to the members of Fearless Heart Aikido, every one of whom completed all 1,000 cuts, and thank you to their sponsors – who donated a total of $1,820.

Learn more about the suburi-thon and watch a short movie at the Fearless Heart Aikido website.

– Helen Tai, Fearless Heart Aikido

Why seminars matter

Check out the great video above put together by the Birankai Scholarship Committee. Real Birankai students talk about the benefits of seminars as a part of training and development in the art. It’s eight minutes long but full of action footage!

All of us in Birankai Aikido are working to fund seminars to raise our level of Aikido, Iaido and Zazen training through the T.K. & Mitsuko Chiba Endowment Fund. Our national goal is to raise $400,000 in four years and we are already funding seminars through the endowment.

Donate today through the endowment page on the Birankai.org website or visit the T.K. & Mitsuko Chiba Endowment Fund Facebook page.

Thanks for your generosity and let’s keep Birankai Aikido strong!

L. Klein