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Teacher advances as student
UMW professor earns black belt in Aikido

 Craig Naylor (left), a professor at University of Mary Washington, works out with Jeff Martin at the Fredericksburg Aikido Club yesterday.
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Date published: 11/5/2004


UMW professor aces test for black belt

The basics of Aikido never left Dr. Craig Naylor.

Even when he wasn't practicing the nonviolent Japanese martial art for 10 years, Naylor still lived by the same principles.

He would diffuse any potential confrontation with carefully chosen words. And he maintained "proper balance," both mentally and physically.

After putting down Aikido to concentrate on graduate studies and teaching, Naylor picked it up again in 2002.

Last Saturday, the 50-year old University of Mary Washington music professor became just the second person at the Fredericksburg Aikido Club to earn a second-degree black belt.

Naylor passed the qualifying test in Montpelier under the supervision of seventh-degree black belt master instructor Bill Witt.

"It wasn't to hard to get back into it because I had applied the same philosophies to my life," Naylor said. "In a situation where a neighbor starts yelling, I may say 'Are you having a bad day?'"

Naylor trains regularly at the Fredericksburg Aikido Club located on Leonard Drive in Spotsylvania County.

He said he simply "got the urge" to give Aikido another shot after moving to Spotsylvania from Montana.

He hadn't practiced the discipline since his days as an undergraduate student at Humboldt State University in northern California.

He received his first-degree black belt from a club in Los Angeles in 1991. Naylor said Aikido is tailor-made for him since he's only 5-foot-4.

Aikido students are taught to neutralize instead of defeating their attackers.

"I'm a shrimp," he said. "But I've witnessed someone who was [4-foot-11] and weighed 100 pounds disarm six or seven people at once. Someone that's 6-foot can be thrashed easily, because in Aikido low leverage is what's important."

Naylor has had no problems transforming from teacher to student.

That's partly because his urge to continue with Aikido just happened to coincide with Aviv Goldsmith taking over as teacher, or "sensei," at FAC.

Goldsmith is a highly respected instructor in the area. His wife, Donna Pienkowski, also trains at FAC.

The relationship between Goldsmith and Naylor has been one key reason for Naylor's ascension.

Goldsmith, who is in Jamaica this week, is passing his passion for the sport on to others in the area.

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