Eighty-year-old makes 8th dan
It has been more than 50 years in the making but Mairangi Bay's John Waite has finally entered the exclusive ranks of Japanese aikido 8th dan.
The 80-year-old has dedicated his adult life to studying and teaching judo and aikido.
After years as 7th dan, Waite says he had been looking forward to getting to the next level but never thought it would happen.
"They are loathe to promote non-Japanese – they keep it very in-house," the Englishman says.
He is only "foreigner" to have been awarded the rank – the others are Japanese, two of which are the technical advisers to the Japanese Aikido Association – but he is pleased to have the honour.
"I didn't want to be awarded it posthumously," he says.
Waite is no stranger to leading the way.
In 1969, he became the first person to be awarded 1st dan in the Tomiki system of aikido in the United Kingdom and Europe.
He was the founder of the British Aikido Association, and was the national coach for the British Aikido Association for several years and was southern area coach for the association for 14 years.
Waite describes aikido as a subtle and deceptive martial art.
"It's movement and dance with a sting in its tail."
With his wife Pepi, Waite moved from England to New Zealand in 2002 and started teaching aikido at the Northcross Community Centre.
In 2004, Waite and his wife organised the aikido section of the Tran Tasman Masters Games, and they continue to teach twice a week in Browns Bay and have plans to take their students over to Japan for the next international competition in 2013.
Waite also holds the rank of 5th dan in both the British and the New Zealand judo associations.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should we raise the retirement age?