The great masters: Virginia Bailey (Part 2)

Part 1.

Back in New York, Virginia discovered Japanese budo through judo, which she studied for five years under George Yoshida of the “New York Dojo”. There she met Eddie Hagihara, a fellow 2nd dan judo student and the two eventually got married.

Virginia got her shodan after about five years of practice, but she became increasingly dissatisfied with judo practice due to the fact that it focused too much on sporting aspects, rather than on spiritual principles. Spiritual development would indeed be a continuous search throughout her life and when she heard that aikido was a martial art that focused on love, compassion, and cooperation, she decided to find out more about it.

She and Hagihara began studying aikido in 1962 with Ohara Yasuo (小原 裕雄). Ohara, who was a nidan, had been teaching informally at New York University since 1961.

Eddie Hagihara, Virginia Bailey, Barry Bernstein, Fred Krase, Ralph Glanstein, and a few others helped Ohara set up the New York Aikikai in 1962 at 25 West 19th Street. Practice picked up and students started to join. Advanced practitioners also visited the dojo.

Now a shodan, and wanting to learn more about the founder of the art, Virginia travelled to Japan for the first time during the Spring of 1963. She spent about a year training at the old Aikikai Honbu Dojo and she had the opportunity to meet and take ukemi from Ueshiba Morihei. Like so many others before her, she was literally mesmerized by the old master.

Source: Aikido Journal

To be continued…

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