2018 Karl Kuehne Budo Distinction
The Karl Kuehne Budo Distinction is a yearly honor bestowed upon the student who truly embraces the Budo philosphy. This honor was named after Karl-san, a serious student who passed away unexpectedly last year. Karl-san exemplified a philosophy of caring for the dojo, its instructors, as well as being a sempai role model in attitude & etiquette. Our recipient this year has demonstrated year after year of this quality, and has a true commitment and understanding in the way he conducts himself as a senior student in the world of Aikido.
-Sensei Jonathan Weiner, 4th Dan, Dojo Cho
“I’ve been training with Jim Plunkett for around a decade at this point and it has been an absolute pleasure. He completely embodies the etiquette and culture that our dojo strives for… the spirit of modern budo. If you have a question about how to treat sempai or kohai, you only need to watch Jim-san. He’s always on the front lines preparing for dojo events and everyone respects and trusts him in our dojo family. We are fortunate that he’s part of our culture.”
-Jim Hyde, 2nd Dan, Assistant Instructor
In any art form, there are going to be prodigies. You’ll have 10 year-olds who are grandmasters in chess, or able to perform Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto on piano, or backflip through the air en route to Olympic gold. This isn’t to say that these phenoms don’t have to WORK for what they achieve – they do. But it often seems as though some people were just MEANT to do what they do.
Jim Plunkett was meant to do aikido.
Usually in saying something like that, I might imply that the individual has flawless ukemi, or else the ability to move seamlessly through techniques, or some kind of superhuman physicality which makes things easy for them. Jim-san is different. He has been chipping away at aikido’s many specific challenges for 31 years. Sometimes, he finds his age, his joints, or his own innate strength to work against him, but he has never departed from the path. When he gets frustrated, he works through it. Jim has as deeply-ingrained “budo sense” as anyone I’ve trained with. Exemplifying the model of the “peaceful warrior”, he sees right through the sticky paradox of the martial arts, manifesting harmony while studying conflict. He is humble and deeply appreciative of his training, and he recognizes that true martial arts study begins and ends with courtesy.
When you get right down to it, I would rather be that kind of virtuoso – to get the “soul” of an art before getting all of the technicality, polish, or flash.
Karl Kuehne, for whom this distinction was named, maintained a similar attitude. He served life, put others and the principles of the art ahead of himself, and he let his shugyo speak for itself. I’m thrilled that this award has been dedicated in his honor, and absolutely feel that Jim Plunkett deserves to be its inaugural recipient.
-Ed Haponik, 2nd Dan, Assistant Instructor.
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