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Stafford women earn Aikido black belts page 2
Two Stafford women become the first people in the region to earn black belts in an aikido class for seniors

 Ida Ansell, who is more than 80 years old, uses a jo during aikido class. She says the classes have improved her sense of balance, something she has needed as she's aged. She exercises several times a week.
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Date published: 8/9/2010

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"Seniors may just back away, the regulars may take a fall if they wish," he said.

The seniors did other required maneuvers, such as twisting the arm or applying painful pressure to nerves. Logan and Ansell didn't move with the same zest as the teenagers and 20-somethings around them, but Goldsmith said they've got the might.

"I've very impressed with how much strength they do have," he said. "During their black-belt demonstrations, both their innovations and their power were obvious to everybody."

David Street, a 23-year-old who wore his blond hair in a ponytail, said neither woman holds back during training.

"They're high-spirited ladies," he said, "and they're wonderful to watch."

When Ansell isn't hoisting a wooden stick over her head, she volunteers every Tuesday at the Stafford County Administration Center. She and her late husband traveled the world through his job with the State Department, and she volunteered everywhere they lived.

She has always liked to stay active, just like her great-granddaughter, who can't sit still. Ansell attends classes--in water aerobics, on an exercise bicycle or in the gym--at least four times a week.

Logan stays busy in her acre garden for wildlife habitat. She also works as a docent one day a week at Belmont, and takes care of her home, pets and husband of 25 years, Chuck Steigerwald. She home-schooled two of her three children before the practice was in vogue, and once worked as a carpenter's apprentice.

"I have a family and they have their jobs, but this is, like, my thing, and they support me in it," Logan said.

The two were anxious for weeks before the black-belt test. It didn't help their nerves to know they'd have to perform in front of younger practitioners.

They were surprised by the reaction they got.

"I've never seen anything like that in my life," Ansell said. "They were clapping and hollering and whistling. Some of them were pounding on the floor."

One man kissed Ansell's hand and told her what an inspiration she was. Others sent the two flowers, cards and candy.

Herbert Hazeley, a 59-year-old who passed his first novice test recently, said the women were role models.

"They're an inspiration to people who just want to be sedentary, to come out and work with what you got."

He studied tae kwon do and jujitsu when he was younger. He wanted to learn aikido because he liked the notion of more technique and less energy.

"The older you get, you don't need all that roughhousing," he said.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
Email: cdyson@freelancestar.com


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