May 2015

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Aikido Black Belts


Two Andalusia residents returned from a week-long training camp with new black belt statuses in the Japanese martial art of Aikido.

Dr. Herb Riedel, president of LBW Community College and Aikido instructor on the Andalusia campus, and his student, Shawn Geohagan, both achieved their next level in black belt testing. Riedel now ranks as a fifth-degree black belt and Geohagan was promoted to first-degree black belt.

“In our Aikido organization, black belt tests are very rigorous and comprehensive. They last well over one hour and are conducted as the culmination of a week-long Aikido training camp in the natural environment of South Carolina,” said Riedel.

“Shawn Geohagan Sensei performed very well and demonstrated many techniques developed during his five years of Aikido training in LBW’s class, including defense against multiple attackers,” said Riedel.  

“I’ve been a life-long resident of Andalusia and never thought I could take a Japanese martial art until Dr. Riedel moved here,” said Geohagan, whose son is also an Aikido student.

Aikido is a form of self-defense that blends the motion of the attacker and redirects the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. 

“It’s about harmony and being able to handle stressful situations,” he said. “It teaches not only combative skills, but skills for situations that require patience and diffusion of stressful tension.”

Those skills, he said, are what he wants his son to learn through Aikido.

“It can teach him how to handle not only stressful experiences as a younger person, but coping mechanisms as an adult and dealing with stresses of generalized life.”

This year’s camp brought fulfillment of a dream for Geohagan.

“I attended the camp two years ago and again this year and have now achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a black belt,” he said. 

Riedel also realized a higher level of achievement, tested by a long-term teacher.

“I was honored to be asked to test for my fifth-degree black belt by Suenaka Sensei, who has been my instructor for over 26 years.”

Sensei Roy Suenaka holds an eighth-degree black belt and serves as founder and president of the American International Ki Development and Philosophical Society and Chairman of the Black Belt Examination Board.

For more information about the Aikido training available at LBWCC, call 334-222-6591.

PHOTO:  Participating in an annual summer Aikido training camp recently were, from left, Dr. Herb Riedel, earning his fifth-degree black belt; Sensei Roy Suenaka; Sensei Shawn Geohagan, who earned a first-degree black belt; and Caleb Geohagan.

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Lurleen B. Wallace Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges or SACSCOC to award the Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Associate in Applied Science degrees and certificates. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College.