The Road to Godan

By Lawrence Monforte

Sixteen years at the Brisbane Dojo has honestly gone by in a blink but it is a place I couldn’t imagine not having in my life. I try and be grateful every day that we have this place to learn, grow and develop ourselves through the art of Aikido under Mori Sensei and Shuko- San.

I believe that the movements themselves, the relationship between shite and uke, the way we blend with our partners energy has a beautiful correlation with life. And like anything there are so many things to discover within the techniques, and its not just about the movements themselves. I think the training is a catalyst to understanding ourselves on a deeper level…. Mostly where we are lacking unfortunately! But to understand this and accept it is good as it means we are able to make improvements 😊 and this is one of the best benefits.

I think another amazing benefit that we have at the Brisbane dojo is having had the chance to meet and learn from so many people. There have been my seniors who I can not thank enough, as well as my colleagues who teach me every time and make me question if I’m training in the best way, or offering advice to the younger students in the correct way, to pass on Sensei’s Aikido legitimately.

There are of course the relationships that I have made, firstly with my wife Mai, who has supported me the whole way through. Believe it or not we hated each other when we first met! but we got over ourselves and I am very grateful to have you in my life. My brother from another mother Ryan Slavin who has always had a tough time accepting I’m better looking than him! I’ve been blessed to have you as a training partner mate and you have been a big influence in my journey and I’m very grateful for us being able to push and develop each other’s Aikido, sometimes with brutal honesty. As well the work we have been doing to better our technique has been invaluable, and I’ve loved spending the time with you. Thank you again for lending me your body for my Godan grading. Greg Smith who trained a little time ago, I’m sorry Greg for mentioning this but he has been fighting a very severe medical condition for the last two and a bit years and you keep fighting, I’m so proud of you mate, through all the hardships you never stopped encouraging and supporting me and you are the reason that I didn’t put a halt on my training like I was thinking to, if there is someone who can represent spirit and keep getting up its you my brother. Thank you.

Aikido at the moment if we are speaking honestly is not the worlds favourite martial art, however it is important that we ignore shallow comments and attacks on our art, for those just starting training please know how blessed we are to have the teacher we have, the style that we practice and that if you give your training an honest go, if you turn up and mean business on the mats you can benefit in ways you cant imagine. Don’t let the hardship fool you, the hardship is very necessary to be able to maintain ourselves in the currents of life, but please know that we are all capable of bringing out something amazing in ourselves, all we have to do is search and bring it to the surface. I truly believe that Yoshinkan Aikido is one of the ways we can do that in life.

I have many great experiences and stories at the dojo and abroad that I could tell here but it would probably be better to tell over a beer sometime. Before I conclude here, I know I mentioned my seniors before, but I would like to say a big thank you again, you guys created an environment that an anxiety stricken, 18 year old with low self-steem needed, a place of spirit but more importantly support. Emanuel, who I got to Uke for and learn from, you helped me face many fears, because honestly you were scary man! I really had to muster bravery to keep taking uke for you, getting my head hit into the mat hundreds of times !  but it developed a resilience within my-self. But beyond that you have been a great mentor, and I’m very lucky. Sensei and Shuko thank you, words would not give justice to the respect and love I have for you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Last but not least, I need to thank my children Nyomi and Jerome, you have taught me so much and I’ve spent a lot of your young lives training and working, I hope to be able to explain why one day !

Osu !

Lawrence James Monforte

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