SMAP Donates Mats to Ethiopia A donation plants a seed for the future

The dojo started with a canvas in a field.

Tesfaye Tekelu Biche, second-degree black belt in Aikido, is the head of the dojo cho of Aikido Ethiopia and Addis Ababa. He has been working with Louis Pollack, third-degree black belt, and Richard Strozzi-Heckler, sixth-degree black belt, to build a proper dojo in Ethiopia. The dojo started with a canvas in a field. However, with the help of a charitable fund made possible by individual donors and the family of Professor Donald Levine, a temporary dojo has been put up with foam covered by canvas as a training surface. As of now, the foundation has been laid and the walls are being put up.

Within a year, Aikido has taken off and the dojo has grown to 106 members. In addition, the dojo promoted 6 students to first-degree black belt. Furthermore, one of the female students have now taken on the opportunity to teach an all-girls Aikido club. As the dojo continues to rise, one partner that has stepped in to help Aikido grow in Ethiopia is the Stanford Martial Arts Program (SMAP).

SMAP, led by program director and coach, Tim Ghormley, donated a total of 68 training mats for the dojo in Hawassa and the next dojo in the capitol city of Addis Ababa. With the kind act, the mats will contribute to the efforts of not only cementing Aikido in Ethiopia but also establishing the East African Aikido Federation. It is hoped that by 2020, there will be representatives attending the International Aikido Federation Congress in Japan as potential new members.

Aikido Ethiopia hopes to host the first East African seminar in November 2017 where students from 6 East African nations, Europe, USA, the Middle East and Asia will be able to participate.

If you'd like to make a donation to establishing the first Aikido dojo in Ethopia, visit: https://www.crowdrise.com/newdojoineastafrica/fundraiser/tesfayetekelu

This is the beginning of what will be an East African Aikido Federation.
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