- Shobu: to cultivate wisdom through martial arts study.
- Aikido(The Way of Harmony): a modern martial art dedicated to the practice of physical conflict resolution in a way designed to mitigate destructive outcomes and to overcome struggle without cultivating violent intent.
- Shihan: the correct term for an Aikido teacher that has dedicated their life to the art–not only teaching, but bringing up other teachers to extend the tradition.
- Sensei: the honorific term for a master
The product of several decades of rigorous physical, philosophical, and spiritual study, Aikido was developed by Morehei Ueshiba Shihan in Japan in the mid-20th century.
Renowned as one of the most highly-respected and influential martial artists of modern Japan, Ueshiba Sensei was actively teaching until his death in 1969.
The primary mission of Aikido is to nurture and train individuals in fundamental mechanisms of self-defense in a way that enhances self-awareness, promotes resilience, and personal development.
Individually, practitioners improve their balance, stability, flexibility, and mobility through full-body practice. Working with partners, they learn non-verbal communication, collaboration, and interpersonal development.
In 1970, William Gleason arrived in Japan to study at Ueshiba O’Sensei’s Hombu Dojo.
Gleason Shihan studied there for 10 years under select high-level Senseis, direct students of Ueshiba: Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan, a senior student of the founder, and Mitsugi Saotome Shihan, the last live-in student of the founder, Ueshiba Sensei.
Gleason Sensei returned to the US in 1980 and founded Shobu Aikido Boston. He remains one of the organization’s active senior instructors, teaching at his own dojo, and at numerous other dojos nationwide. Several of his students have attained rank and founded their own dojos.
Shobu Aikido Vermont was founded by Gleason Sensei’s senior student, Ralph Malerba, in 1992. Todd Trzaskos began training when the dojo was formed, was introduced to both Gleason and Saotome Senseis just months later and rose to become Malerba’s senior student.
Upon Malerba’s retirement in 2005, Trzaskos took responsibility for Shobu Aikido Vermont, where he continues instructing today while engaging in regular study with Gleason, Saotome and other instructors.
Supporting the work of Shihan and Sensei–who have the mastered Aikido and transmit their knowledge to new generations, carrying the fundamental principles of Aikido to the wider world–will guarantee that this ‘way of harmony’ can continue to help future generations deal with adversity without generating violence or violent intent.
The Covid-19 Crisis
The economic and personal hardships of the Covid pandemic have pushed many small businesses and organizations past their limits. Numerous dojos have suffered enrollment and revenue losses, rent increases, and have not able to keep their doors open.
Shobu Aikido Boston is one of those casualties. In a year that should have seen a 40th Anniversary celebration, the difficult decision was made to close.
At the age of 78–Gleason Sensei lives a very modest life in support of the practice, and has regularly made personal, as well as professional sacrifices to benefit the dojo. Today, adapting to the constraints and opportunities Covid restrictions have placed before us, Gleason Sensei continues to teach whenever it is safe and possible to do so.
Proceeds of our efforts here will endow Shobu Aikido Vermont with the resources necessary to facilitate Gleason Sensei’s teaching in Vermont–underwriting his instruction fees, supporting teacher training sessions, and providing students with grants to access his instruction.
This fund will help Gleason Sensei continue to deliver the high-quality instruction experience for which he is known, facilitating the transfer of this strong and gentle art to the next generation of Shihan.
The fund will also provide opportunity for new students of Aikido to imagine how they might bring their practice to the world both as teachers and practitioners.
Why a Guitar?
One other important thing that should not go without mention: Gleason Sensei is an accomplished blues guitarist, as well.