Michael McVey

What is your full name age and rank in Martial Arts?
Michael McVey age 49, 4th dan.

Where were you born?
East Lansing, Michigan, USA.

Where do you live today?
Yellow Springs, Ohio, USA.

What is your current occupation?

What is your education?
Associate of Applied Science in Broadcast Engineering--1977
Bachelor of Science in Special & Elementary Education---1981
Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling---1985

When did you first start out with aikido and where was that?
1984 at the Cincinnati Aikikai in Ohio, USA.

Who was your first aikido teacher?
Marc Commisar, who studied with Bruce Klickstein through 1st kyu and then with Frank Doran for 2 more years, before moving back to Cincinnati.

Who would you say is your main inspiriation in aikido? What do you feel this person/persons especially passed on to you?
Pat Hendricks Sensei. Mental and physical toughness in the face of adversity or crisis.

Whats is the name of your current dojo?
Yellow Springs Aikido, established 1991.

Do you give seminars, where?
So far I have given only 2. I hope people invite me to do more and I hope to give them any where there are fellow travelers "on the path" willing to join with me to see what we can learn from eachother. 

Have you had any other expericience in the Martial Arts? If yes, tell us your main impressions.
I practiced Judo with a neighbor friend when I was 7--8 for about 6 months. It was alot like playing tackle football as I remember it. I mainly took ukemi being 3 years younger than my friend and not actually in the class with him. He would practice the sweeps and shoulder throws with me after his class. I remember using the back yard as the grass was thicker and therefore the ground softer. We mixed it in with pretend track meets where we did high the jump event onto the ground. It felt like whoever was quicker would get to throw...the few times he let me throw. But the bigger person usually threw. Ukemi in Aikido came easier to me later due to this. 

I attempted to compete in American wrestling from age 11---15 in public school physical education classes and the highschool wrestling team. I was always the smallest of my peers and I could do better in wrestling because it was organized by weight class. But quickness and a willingness to hurt your opponent...within the rules...was needed. I learned I could absorb an elbow to the nose and that "losing"...by the rules...to de-escalate another person was better.

I practiced Shorin Ryu Karate with Ken Thompson for about 6 months in 1974. He was a 5th dan and had just returned from Vietnam where he had served two tours of duty as a fighter pilot. He was very intelligent having earned a Ph.D in mathematics. He'd just snuck his Vietnamese wife out of Vietnam to much local newspaper acclaim in a daring off shore boat rescue under a hail of bullets. He was much like Koichi Tohei is portrayed in appearance and attitude. Extremely calm and quick, smiling at you as you "kumi-te'd" toe-to-toe with him. He would hurt me just enough to make me realize how open I was. We students did the knuckle push-ups on concrete and forearm strike practice against a metal pole and running a mile in the snow barefoot thing popular at the time. We watched Bruce Lee movies and the "Kung Fu" TV show and sparred all the time at our construction site job. The classes were in a very small farming town in the local Vetrans of Foreign Wars hall with no heat. His main thing seemed to be diffusion of ones own pain mentally.

What would you say, if you can single out one specific area, is the most important in Martial Art?
Using the art to protect other people from their own irrational behavior by becoming aware of our own.

When teaching aikido, what do you find to be more important to focus on. Is there something special you think you have an obligation to pass on to your students?
How to find your own learning style. How to effectively practice outside of class. How to be a useful training partner as uke and nage. How to be an ally.

When looking at a student, what qualities do like to see? What is important to be a good student?
A cooperative and patient attitude.

What is your goal with aikido? Why do you practice and where do you want to go?
To have more integrity physically AND interpersonally (spritually O'Sensei would've called it) and therefore be better able to protect others from their irrational behavior---because we're so aware of our own.

How would you define the overal goal of aikido, What is your suggested road map getting there?
Mind, body and spirit integration. Saito Sensei's (for me) physical method with an eye toward "...what can I learn about myself from this training partner and this one and this one and ....".   

What qualities do find important in an aikido teacher?
A cooperative and patient attitude. What can I learn from training with this student?

Can you pin point a few important moments in your history in aikido, perhaps moments you feel contributed you taking a new turn in aikido or of some other importance.

How would you like to see aikido develope in the future? What steps do you feel  is important  to take to get there?
I'd like to see more focus on using O'Sensei's disciples' methods to "get stong" interpersonally rather than in technique only. I think our irrational behavior patterns have us all distracted by "what is the most effective style" or the whole "Aikido as exercise vs. Aikido as a martial art" argument. I think it's both and so much more. I think we just need to repeatedly decide "...what can I learn about my learning style and irrational behavior patterns from this training partner" as we bow to them and we'll continue to learn....training and not learning is why so many of us give up on Aikido.

Last famous words, anything you wish to add...
"Terru san, you should go find out for yourself"...O'Sensei's response to Terry Dobsen's spiritual question after 5+ years of not asking any questions.

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