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Spotsylvania County resident Donna Pienkowski is the first woman to earn a first-degree black belt from the local aikido studio
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Date published: 4/24/2005
By CATHY DYSON
Goldsmith believes the art appeals to women for another reason. It offers "an option that can be very attractive to women--stop the person from injuring you, while minimizing injury to the attacker."
Goldsmith has been studying aikido for the 17 years he and Pienkowski have been married--and for years before that. He's a fourth-degree black belt. Students can go as high as 10th-degree.
Pienkowski supported him and even went to Japan with him when he trained. But she didn't start taking classes until 2002, when the couple moved here from Nevada.
They both grew up on the East Coast and wanted to get back to greener scenery. Out West, Goldsmith worked to develop geothermal energy sources, and Pienkowski taught middle school science.
Now, they're both focused on aikido and building a studio on the 20 acres they own in the Massaponax area of Spotsylvania County.
Pienkowski wishes she had started training years earlier. She said she feels like she's in better shape, and she loves the way the training focuses on mind and body.
"A lot of students look at black belt as achieving your goal, but in Japan, you're just beginning," Pienkowski said. "You've just reached the first rung of the ladder, but you're at the bottom."
"But now you know how to hold on," Goldsmith added.
To reach CATHY DYSON: 540/374-5425 firstname.lastname@example.org