A hero is
somebody who does or is something that inspires us to take that extra step in
our own lives, influencing our thoughts and decisions in a way that stands out
from the rest of the crowd. We could admire that person for certain traits and
habits, for a way of living, or for their accomplishments as a human being. The
list goes on. Heroes can have a positive impact on some that outlasts their own
lives and touches the community in a meaningful way; they can also nudge that
one person into just the right direction.
I am a regular
student at Aikido in Fredericksburg, a 501(c)3 non-profit educational facility in Spotsylvania, Virginia. I first
began my martial arts training when I was seven, though I did not make the
switch to aikido until I was thirteen years old and living in Florida at the
time. Martial arts had been a part of my life for so long, and there was
something in aikido that fascinated me in a way that my previous art did not. Eventually,
we relocated to Virginia. Aikido in Fredericksburg happened to be close by, and
somewhere around September of 2009 I took my first trial class in a large,
well-used warehouse up a hill and behind some stores that had no
air-conditioning. I was introduced to the instructor, Aviv Goldsmith, and his
wife Donna. I took my very first lesson from one of his students, Heather.
Despite the plethora of black-belts on the mat, there was no doubt that the
facility was not ideal for a dojo.
I didn't go
back right away; it was also around that time that we experienced our first
major winter. Snow was everywhere.
But somewhere in there, I heard of an Open House for Aikido in Fredericksburg.
They were opening up a new dojo and leaving the warehouse they'd been training
at previously; Aviv Sensei had built it specifically for Aikido practice, and
his hard work paid off. Now, they had a true place to study. I went, and before
2 years passed, I successfully tested for my black-belt as the youngest to test
in that particular dojo. I wouldn't have been able to do it without him.
Aviv Sensei is
a man of about average height. He has some wrinkles, and he wears glasses, and
his voice reminds me a little bit of Tom Hanks. My first impression of him was
that he was a distracted guy; he always looked like he was thinking about
something else while he was teaching, even if he wasn't. He isn't very talkative
either, and making small talk with him is like talking to a tree, and the tree
just happens to interrogate you back! During my first couple of conversations
with him, I was too intimidated to even look him in the eye. He is the type of
guy who will remember everything you say for what I'm betting 50 or 60 years
later. I've put my foot in my mouth on more than one occasion around him.
Aviv Sensei is
in his fifties now, but the amount of work he's done for his community in such
a short time is phenomenal. He received a BA in Biological Sciences from
Cornell University, an MBA from Syracuse University, and a Masters degree in
Energy Systems from the New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
With this background, he's helped push forward a number of environmental
projects all around the world, from geothermal plants to volunteering with
Vista, building homes for underprivileged people. A few years ago, he was
brought on as an adviser to Fishermen's Energy , a community-based offshore
wind farm development company.
within that time frame he started to train in aikido and eventually joined a
dojo in Reno, Nevada, in which he received his black-belt in 1992. When he
earned his 4th degree black-belt he moved to Virginia at the invite
of the Fredericksburg Aikido Club to assume the role of Chief Instructor at
their dojo. On January 1, 2006, he was promoted to 5th degree
black-belt. In addition to single-handedly
taking over all daily classes and managing his own career, he purchased the
land around his house and began to build his own dojo, where his classes would
eventually move to at the end of 2009.
I joined at the
beginning of 2010, and since then I've witnessed him host multiple seminars,
community open houses, roadside cleanups, and two teen and children's summer
camps. The amount of things he has done for his community in the past two years
I've been there is staggering. He has truly made the dojo his home, and in some
aspects I feel like he's adopted the majority of his students into a large
extended family. He's done what he could to make the atmosphere of training one
of friendship, and it's truly paid off. Not one person who has trained for an
extended period of time has complained that aikido makes them unhappy; on the contrary, they have all
attested to the fact that they were performing much better in school, work, or
merely in their own social lives. I don't believe the program would be thriving
as much as it is now without Aviv's supervision. He really lit a fire under
I believe he
meets all the criteria for a hero. He's done a lot for Virginia, renewable
energy, and aikido. But more importantly, he's inspired me to keep pushing
myself and exceed expectations in all area in my life. He still hasn't gotten
me to enjoy lettuce as much as I probably should, but he's enabled me to be the
best person that I can be. That, in my definition, is a hero.
Goldsmith." Personal interview. 5 Dec. 2011.
"Fredericksburg.com - Aikido Instructor Gets Advanced
- Fredericksburg, Virginia's Homepage. Fredericksburg Newspaper, 14 Mar. 2006. Web. 02 Dec.
"Interview with Aviv Goldsmith Sensei, 5th Dan." Http://aikido-world.com.
Aikido World Journal. Web. 2 Dec.
Page created on 6/18/2012 12:00:00 AM
Last edited 6/18/2012 12:00:00 AM