1/26/24 It's looking like we have finally turned the corner from the covid shut downs. We have more people coming in all the time now, even blackbelt students who are moving in from other places. I believe everyone is finding authentic teaching with techniques that work and are as strong as you need them to be but controllable. Also my warming up with extended Tai-No-Henko practice combined with wrist hold break-aways lets everyone new to understand right away what to expect from the techniques. I keep seeing lots of smiles as people feel somewhat simple controlling stuff with underlying strength right off the bat. The presence of blackbelts is causing me to teach more Nishio Style techniques. That's difficult though when we have new students as well. If we keep growing this way maybe soon I can split what I teach to advanced on one end and basic on the other end. Finally achieving my long time dreams of an advanced dojo.
1/13/24 GREAT DAY!!! In the morning Sandor and Chris, both 14, tested for their 10th test. BY FAR, they gave the best test performance EVER in the Aikido of Gainesville Dojo. They were both TERRIFIC. I am so proud of them. Practically the whole test was fast and precise with lots of energy. I was expecting about an hour each, but the whole thing was done in about an hour. I have a line in the test with the option for either hip throws or a twisting kind of high tripping throw called Tai Otoshi from 3 types of attacks. They both chose the hip throws. I normally have them focusing on the load up of the aggressors body, but no throw. They were throwing each other taking the falls well without any injury. So, now I start getting them ready for the 1st black belt test. I'm so swelled up with pride of them I'm popping the buttons on my shirt. Then, after the test, we taught a 3 hour Women's Self Defense Seminar to 10 women. Taught them a whole bunch of theory of attacks and effective responses, with some psychology and physics with fun and camaraderie and a lot of laughter while they were learning strong responses. There was a wonderful question about intervening as a 3rd party to sibling bullying break-up of a much larger sibling picking on two younger ones. Great question and creating at least a couple of responses for the situation. Fun stuff.
1/5/23 Great Start for 2024! Finally we are starting to get new people coming in. Last night we had another 2 new students come in. They are Indian UF students. I didn't question very much. Hopefully they will be around for a while. The man has done some Karate in India, but not for a long time. I taught 4 Tai-no-Henko wrist break-aways to demonstrate some various techniques to them. I was introducing the 5th to them, but got into a Japan story and talked away the last of the hour. What can I say. People tell me the really like my extra stories. They were unable to stay for the weapons class. They said they had fun, which is my goal for classes, to teach a bunch in a fun atmosphere.
Great news this morning 12/18/23. Two of the new students who came Thursday evening have bought a 20 class card. As a couple, I'm giving them 3 extra bonus classes each plus another 3 classes as a veteran. So they're getting 29 classes for $200. It's going to be nice to have more blackbelts on the mats. Hopefully I can start showing more Nishio techniques during regular classes.
12/15/23 Last night I had 3 new students. A couple who move here from Dallas and a Cuban woman who has moved up here from Miami. They stated for both the empty hand and the weapons classes. They all said they enjoyed the class. We'll find out if they were just polite if they show up again.
11/19/23 Another great Sunday! Last year a wonderful little student moved with his mother up to Tallahassee because she received a wonderful advancement in her career as an instructor of acting and directing. They came back to Gainesville for a visit with friends and Both Vincent and Monika wanted to come see me again. Vincent is now in a Karate, Jujitsu, Judo instruction school in Tallahassee. Vincent and I played with some of the simple techniques I taught him before. It was wonderful seeing them both again and a fun Aikido play time again. I hope Vincent can remember the simple escape techniques I teach that he is not receiving up in Tallahassee. They are returning in January for a 2 or 3 week vacation, so I should be able to see Vincent and push him ahead a little more. He's growing and recognizing things faster. So, he should be able to advance some more if he comes to a number of classes over the time.
Wonderful day today 10/29/23! Keith and I taught a Self-Defense lecture this afternoon to about 100 sorority girls. It went very well. They appreciated the information we gave them along with our stories from our life experiences that are applicable. We had fun. They had fun testing some simple disengagement techniques. If they remember just 20% of all we showed/taught them then they will be better off. We could not teach more than a few techniques because it was a hard tile floor. So, we had to stick with techniques that just disengaged instead of throwing down. Our main theme is Escape - Run - Hide. If found, repeat as needed. I did cover what to do in a mass shooting situation: Fight back. You are rarely totally disarmed. Most of them had water bottles. Throw anything you have at the gunman. Aim for the head. He won't be able to block everything or shoot everybody. All the stuff liters the floor making it hard to walk without tripping. So many of these mass shootings, the shooter just walks around casually killing all the cowering people. THAT'S STUPID!!!!!
The Japanese Culture Class was interesting, however we only had two children show up. There was just too much other stuff going on this weekend before Halloween. The professor from UF actually brought a fellow instructor and a Japanese friend plus we had about 5 of her students as well. So, we had more teachers and helpers than students for the morning. It was good practice and we would like to do this again next year.
10/5/23 Jack tested for his 8th test, 1st Brown Belt this evening. It was a good test. He has been coming consistently on Sunday afternoons for empty hand and Thursday evenings for weapons training. His weapons knowledge is way ahead of what's in his test because he has been training with Chris for about 2 years or more. So, Jack is regularly at least a test ahead in his weapons knowledge, in addition to sometimes getting an additional interesting extra now and then. The Japanese Culture Class was interesting, however we only had two children show up. There was just too much other stuff going on this weekend before Halloween. The professor from UF actually brought a fellow instructor and a Japanese friend plus we had about 5 of her students as well. So, we had more teachers and helpers than students for the morning. It was good practice and we would like to do this again next year.
10/5/23 Jack tested for his 8th test, 1st Brown Belt this evening. It was a good test. He has been coming consistently on Sunday afternoons for empty hand and Thursday evenings for weapons training. His weapons knowledge is way ahead of what's in his test because he has been training with Chris for about 2 years or more. So, Jack is regularly at least a test ahead in his weapons knowledge, in addition to sometimes getting an additional interesting extra now and then. When Chris passes his 10th test, I will start teaching him lots more Nishio Style techniques, which as far as weapons go, Jack will jump dramatically in his knowledge with weapons.
8/19/23 Big learning / realization morning for me as a teacher observing the reactions of students. A few weeks ago I commented about teaching a 7 year old a long staff kata. Today I was teaching a 9 year old with almost the same body, positions relationship problems. It's not a disability. It's an inexperienced situation. My realization comes in recognizing the mental expansion effects that come from long staff practice. I've always told people the Bo katas are GREAT exercise and fitness practice. Now I realize I can say the mental development that comes from Bo katas is just as beneficial for the mind as the physical movements.
This is an opinion from the father of a prior family of students. They came to my birthday party on the 10th of June. They had to stop because the costs for transportation was eating them up.
It felt so good to be able to walk into Aikido of Gainesville with my family and be able to reunite with so many of those that I trained with in the past.
Aikido of Gainesville is where it started for my children. Sensei Huffman - A great teacher that loves sharing this martial art. I was able to see those that my children trained with and I got back on the mat. I was able to see how far a young man by the name of Christopher has gotten in the skill of Aikido. I remember working with him when he first came to the Dojo. Teaching him the basics and encouraging him to keep with it. Now years later he was showing me moves and teaching others to include answering some of my questions regarding Nishio style. It makes me smile to see such joy in Sensei Huffman's heart. This is because of his students. They make the dojo what it is. I even got to practice with my boy on the mat. He started when he was 9 and now he is15. Brought back memories. I just want to encourage anyone that wants a good martial arts home, visit Aikido of Gainesville. Thanks Sensei Huffman for everything and it was great seeing those that I haven't seen and trained with in the past. It was also good to meet all the new Aikido students as well. Stick with it.
From Joel Herron Wow! I'm so happy, I'm blessed that I have these effects on students.
7/30/23 Interesting afternoon. Keith's first Aikido Sensei, Oshima Sensei is in town to visit old friends from when he was running a dojo here in Gainesville back in the 1980's and 1990's. He likes meeting and talking with different Aikido teachers. We connected very well. Keith showed him around the dojo while I was talking with Oshima Sensei's other students who met up here. Finally some of Keith's fellow students have come to take a look at what I teach. Then we went over to Swamphead brewery to have some beers. I think they are well impressed. No doubt I am remaining pretty faithful to my teachers and what they taught. I have expanded some things, which is normal with development. Good connections.
7/25/23 July has been a great month! We had two boys go up to Fredricksburg, Virginia to Sensei Aviv Goldsmith's Aikido Teens Camp for a week. They were well received and learned a bunch over the week. They attended all the classes, Kids, Teens and Adults plus their Camp classes. They did the kumijo practices for the 13 movement kata. They agreed with me the attack roles are boring. That's why I developed a counter kata to match the counter kata for the 31 movement kata. Also Eddy Fernandes is now over in Japan to study Japanese business for a year. He has connected with the Warabi Dojo in northwest Tokyo. He wrote back so excited that the sensei is teaching the same techniques I was teaching him to get ready for Japan. So both sites have verified that I am teaching techniques faithful to what I was taught. Sensei Aviv texted me that Chris was quite skilled with his Aikido. My answer was, he is a product of high quality techniques and diligent teaching. Both boys are. I have always taught high quality techniques. That was my intention when I went to Japan. I wanted to learn the best and bring it back to Florida. In addition, I brought Iaido and Batto, which I had no idea about, but was connected with a master who was teaching cutting-on-the-draw which is almost non-existent even in Japan, let alone the rest of the world. Instead most Batto people draw first then cut on just one or two stands that you cannot walk past while cutting. For challenging cutting they make multiple cuts on the big stands. This does not correspond with any Iaido that I have seen. So, what Tokutomi Sensei was teaching and what I carry on is the same as the Iaido. This means moving, cutting on-the-draw and continuing to move through old and new katas while cutting mulitple targets with only one or sometimes two cuts per target.
6/10/23 Another Great Day! Today we partied. It was a wonderful party to celebrate (Uh maybe that's not quite the word). My change from "More than old enough" to "WAY MORE than old enough". I'm not fond of the numbers any more. We had maybe 10 present students and about 20 more past students show up. People I have been missing for years. So much of the time it's a matter of "Life Changes". It was so great seeing all these students from the past who still enjoy what I taught them. The guy who took the short video scan on the facebook page was a shipmate with me on the USS Independence, in Japan. He recognized me when I was teaching the Aikido Club at Santa Fe Community College 20+ years ago now. He went from learning what I teach to learning Yoga and became an instructor. Now he's a high level Yoga instructor as well as teaching, I guess, middle school level classes and being the teacher of the boy who passed his Nikyu, 9th level test with me. I learned from JP today that Chris is not just a good student, he's a great student in the top learning level for his age in THE COUNTY! I am so, so proud of Chris. And JP just achieved a Doctorate in Education, so he's now a great school teacher too. The Herron Family came in also. They are so grown up now. Joy is now a beautiful young lady. Judith was under the weather, but no doubt she is beautiful also. They were such good friends with Simone, who just passed her 9th test two months ago. Speaking of that, I was teaching Simone, Sandor and Chris some Nishio style Kokyu Nage techniques this morning. They are starting to really experience the nearly effortless techniques now. This was a twisting the attacker backwards with a Sankyo hold that throws the person so off-balance, there is nothing they can do but roll out or face-plant. They know how to roll out in the dojo, but someone attacking on the street, will probably skin up their nose on the pavement from this type of effortless throw. I so much love teaching these students and watching them also progress so far ahead off-the-mats as well. Another Great Day with my Aikido Family.
6/6/23 All the videos of Chris and Simone's test have been uploaded above.
5/31/23 I thought I had uploaded Chris and Simone's test. I'll have to do it again.
3/25/23 Christopher (13) and Simone (16) tested this morning for their Brown 2, Nikyu Belts. Both did great! Very solid Circle grade. I use the symbols used by the Nishio Style grading system Circle (Pass with minimal mistakes), Triangle (pass with mistakes) and Square (Too many mistakes. Needs more time.) I pitty-the-guy who tries to get fresh with Simone. Whenever there was a Sankyo technique, she would just whip Chris right down to the mat. I'm still laughing, her techniques were so good and FAST! The only thing she had trouble with was the 13 movement walking staff aggressor role. Everything else about her test just overshadowed that limited lack that there was no reason to allow that to significantly lower her score. And I have a lot of stuff in my tests. If they go anywhere else to practice, my students will be respected, or they might be so thoroughly trained they will be spoiled and feel they can't stand any lower level of instruction. (The knowledge I pump into them is equal or more than many 3rd degree black belts in Florida.) On top of the great tests, an older previous student came to visit from where she's living and working now in Montana. It's so satisfying to hear that she's remembering and using Aikido type techniques to control unruly patients and loves them because of the range of levels of strength available to apply as necessary to the situations.
Mark Larson Seminar in Sarasota 4-1&2-2023 Aikido of Gainesville will be closed April 1st & 2nd when Sensei Huffman goes down to Sarasota for training and socializing.
This Saturday March 25th we will have two Brown belts testing for their Brown 2 Belts. I expect two good tests that will display many rather advanced techniques. Visitors and guests are welcome to come watch. It may take 2 hours with a break. They have a lot of things on their test.
Yesterday Saturday, 3/4/23 was another good day. We have a student on the spectrum, who has missed for nearly a month because of a relative in the hospital was able to come and remembered enough to be able to pass the second test. Also we are getting 2 brown belts ready to take their Brown 2 tests. They are coming along well and we have set the date for their tests to Thursday evening after next March 16th. I one has been here very regularly and I know he will do well and pull along the other person who is always so busy she has a hard time coming regularly. I know she knows the techniques. She just needs some memory jogging, which the other student will provide when he does the technique first.
They also have a good bit of weapons on the test. I teach my students a lot of weapons stuff because if they stay with me the weapons and empty hand will be integral when they go into the blackbelt Nishio Style stuff.
I received this wonderful Thank You from the woman who requested and coordinated bringing the children with Tourette Syndrome to the Saturday morning classes. She said posting this was great with her.
Simpson, Heather N.
Mon, March 2019
to Sensei Tom,
Thank you so much for welcoming our group this weekend. I know that the children loved it and really enjoyed learning the activities. In particular, while the kids were learning, the parents were bonding and connecting, which was a real bonus to Saturday.
I have taken your flyer and will hand it out whenever possible.
Your program is truly remarkable and I appreciate your kindness to the group.
Heather Simpson, OTD, MOT, OTR/L
Tourette Clinic Coordinator
Southeast Regional Centers of Excellence
UF Health Rehab Center at Fixel Center for Neurological Diseases
I received this great email complement from Nathaniel after his first class in Jodo, walking staff, last Thursday evening. It's so nice I asked him if I could post it on the website. He said he would be honored.
Thank you for writing and for teaching a wonderful class. Having dabbled in various martial arts and numerous dojo’s over the years I have developed a good sense for quality instruction and found it in abundance on Thursday. And I feel very fortunate to be able to receive such a level of instruction within a small class (although I do not expect the class to remain small for long). The commute is a challenge but is what it is. I look forward to seeing you again on Thursday.
The primary question: What constitutes a good dojo? How do you recognize a good dojo?
1. The Sensei (instructor) is knowledgeable, helpful and safe.
2. The techniques work and can be powerful, but don't always need to be powerful.
3. The senior students look out for and help the junior students and keep things safe.
4. Everybody is learning a lot and having fun.
The more time spent in class becomes more learned which means the faster the advancement.
Free Saturday classes will remain in the mornings until further notice.
Kids 9am to 10:30am and
Teens 10:30am to Noon
AOG web sites with information about Kids classes are;
Aikido Kids of Gainesville,
Stop the Bully Using Aikido and
Bully Defense Using Aikido
These sites have more information about what to expect in Kids and Teens classes and Anti-Bully techniques.
Thursday Free Class times are 6:30-8:00pm.
There is now a weapons class from 8:05 to 9:00pm following the free class.
Tom Huffman (352) 494-7816
4424 SW 35th Terrace Suite 4
Gainesville, FL 32608
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and Thomas C. Huffman, All Rights Reserved