Skip to content

North Thompson Aikido dojo in Clearwater is great for all ages

Adults and youth are welcome at the classes led by Sensei Myrna Harrod-Taniguti

The Clearwater Aikido classes for the North Thompson have become a great way to make lasting connections for all ages.

Sensei Myrna Harrod-Taniguti explained the difference between adult and youth belts. “The adults in Aikido don’t have coloured belts, as there are different levels of white before testing for a black belt. Lately, I’ve been inviting some of the youth into the evening class because our adult class is quite small, usually just two or three adults including myself.”

Harrod-Taniguti said that in a recent evening class some of the youth noticed one of the adults, Margot Venema — who has been training for more than a year with the Clearwater group — was still wearing a white belt, and questioned that. They talked about how the ranking system is different for adults than it is for children, who progress through a coloured belt system. The kids “talked Margot into doing the same striped challenges that they do,” said the Sensei.

On May 30 Venema tested for her own “yellow” belt and had a “fantastic test,” said Harrod-Taniguti.

“She has demonstrated a great deal of commitment to her learning. She often shows up to class a bit tired after a long day at work and her many community commitments, but she shows up nevertheless. And she always leaves smiling.

“Her yellow belt was presented to her by her sempai [senior student] Jules Dumoulin-Schaller who, along with the other boys in the class, were very generous in sharing his knowledge and providing Margot with a great deal of encouragement.”

Venema was quite proud and touched by the students’ encouragement. “When I first joined the dojo, I was surprised by how easily the kids accepted me into their world. At 6’2”, it took them awhile to get used to my height, but they made a game of it. Through their eyes, I learned to find joy in the world, to believe in magic, and to embrace the power of play. The dojo transforms into a giant playground where I can laugh, flail around, and rekindle my childlike imagination. Aikido poses become dinosaur arms, and rolling on the mats turns into ‘Panda rolls.’ I don’t care about the belts; I simply enjoy escaping the adult world and entering theirs. The kids think it’s super cool to have an adult they can connect with without judgment, and I find my soul uplifted and energized for days after each session. It’s a win-win for everyone, as both my mind and body benefit from this joyful, inclusive environment.”

The average period of training required for Canadian adults to obtain their black-belt in the “Aikikai” school of Aikido is 10 years, and the period of training required for youth is often longer, since a high degree of maturity and commitment is expected in addition to technical excellence.

“These students, who have each logged between 75 and 110 days of training in the past 17 months since the Aikido program began in Clearwater, have therefore completed an important first step and should be congratulated for their efforts and persistence,” said Harrod-Taniguti.

Classes are held through the District of Clearwater’s recreation department in the back of the Centennial Building (132 Clearwater Station Road). Although the spring session is coming to an end soon, there will be continuing drop-in classes for current and prospective students held throughout the summer months.

If you are interested in learning more about the Aikido classes offered in the North Thompson Valley, contact Harrod-Taniguti via email at

Editor’s note: Myrna Harrod-Taniguti Sensei is a third-degree blackbelt and former board member of the B.C. Aikido Federation (BCAF), having worked to keep the Aikido community intact at the provincial level during the pandemic. Last December, she stepped down from the BCAF to focus on the local Aikido dojo in the North Thompson Valley in Clearwater. She has since spearheaded an inter-generational Focus Group on IDEA (Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility) as it relates to Aikido across B.C.

About the Author: Hettie Buck

Read more