Brad Larson’s memorial service

Brad Larson’s memorial service

By Rob Kedoin
On Sunday, November 12th, Shintaido members gathered at the Unitarian Church of Sharon for Brad Larson’s memorial service. The church was filled with so many people that some watched the service from an overflow location in the building. The service was beautiful. Rev. Jolie Olivetti spent time talking about Brad’s family as well as his many interests in Shintaido, Biodanza and drum circles. There was a period of sharing where people could tell stories of Brad. These stories ranged from his omnipresent smile to his involvement in the church, the Historical Society and his many contributions to the world of interactive storytelling in museums.

From a personal perspective, Gail and I began the day by hiking in the nearby Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. I know how Brad loved to run with his boh or joh through the woods and while I have no idea if he ever ran the trails of Moose Hill, it helped me to envision being on trails he once traveled.

Toward the beginning of the service, the reverend relayed a message from Brad’s mother which affected me deeply, that, “Brad would be the first one to forgive.” I needed to be reminded about this because I had felt myself growing angrier and angrier about Brad’s death.

Matt Shorten spoke about Brad and Shintaido, then led us in Tenso and Shoko as we stood at the front of the church. David Curry then invited the attendees to join us in open handed Tenso and Shoko. Facing a church full of people, palms outstretched in Shoko, all sharing their love for Brad was awe inspiring.

For myself, I will always miss doing the standing back stretch with Brad. I always felt like I was being lifted like a rag doll and being stretched by a kind, gentle giant.

Brad once spoke to his church’s congregation about a three-rock meditation he learned from Thich Nhat Hahn. Since the congregation thought it fitting to send us away with packets of three rocks and the meditation directions, it seems like a good way to close. Hold each stone consecutively in hand:

Stone 1: Breathing in, I see myself as a flower; breathing out I feel fresh
Stone 2: Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain; breathing out I feel strong
Stone 3: Breathing in, I see myself as still water; breathing out I reflect things as they are

Shintaido New England October Workshop – October 14-15, 2023

Shintaido New England October Workshop – October 14-15, 2023

By Bela Breslau

Shintaido practitioners in New England were lucky during their October workshop.

We were lucky to study with Senior Instructor Lee Ordemann who came up from Washington DC and led two keikos on Saturday that focused on the Jissen Kumitachi program. It was new for most of us and a refresher for a few. We practiced with bokken during two keikos on Saturday. A big thanks to Lee for making the trip and sharing his expertise with us. Heather Kuhn arranged to rent space at the Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield, the perfect dojo with a high ceiling and wood floors.

As New Englanders who have experienced the rainiest of falls, we were also lucky on Sunday morning when we gathered at Unity Park in Turners Falls. The sun came out just as we started, creating a dramatic backdrop. Bela led a Toitsu-Kihon and Eiko curriculum and encouraged everyone to express their energy and knowledge next to the beautiful Connecticut River. At least one practitioner (Eva Thaddeus) kept saying the field was her new favorite outside dojo. At the end of class, Stephen led us in Reposada, a new short kata developed by General Instructor Jim Sterling. “Reposada” means “restful “ in Spanish. It provided the perfect way to close.

In addition to the nourishment of learning from Lee and practicing the tried and true with Bela, we had two wonderful meals together: a potluck on Saturday night at Stephen and Bela’s house, and a breakfast and closing at Heather’s apartment in Turners Falls on Sunday morning.

Here’s a link to pictures from the weekend. You’re sure to recognize Margaret Guay, supreme organizer for the group, plus Lee, Bela, Stephen, Ann, Matt, Eva and Heather.

Bela and Stephen were delighted to host Lee and the women in his life – his lovely wife Elizabeth and his beautiful and energetic three-year-old daughter Esme.