Sport helps them with mind, body

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

FRANKLIN—On Friday nights at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, a dedicated group of individuals practice a worldly sport called Aikido.

The Bushin Kan of Franklin Aikido Dojo has been in the City of Franklin since 1999. Local resident and advocate of the sport, Thomas Councill, researched and became involved with martial artists who have studied under Tesshin Hamada of Old Dominion University in Norfolk which established the Franklin dojo.

The aim of the Bushin Kan Dojo is to help the trainees develop optimal mind, body, spirit and skills through classical Budo training. It intends to contribute toward achieving peace, strength and harmony of the world.

The local dojo leader (called a sempaii) is Frank Downs, who is a sixth-degree black belt. Downs has been with the Franklin group for about seven years.

Assisting is Bruce Myers who is a fourth-degree black belt and has his own dojo in Virginia Beach. Myers has traveled to the Canada, France, Belgium and the United Kingdom to take part in learning seminars and demonstrations.

The Franklin dojo is particularly proud of two of its homegrown and trained men who have recently become black belts — Councill and his son Thomas Councill Jr. Thomas Jr. became interested in Aikido through his close relationship with his father.

He said that he was impressed with the way the group works together as a family. He also added that he felt good about learning self-defense.

The Aikido Class, which takes place at the MLK Center starting at 6 p.m. each Friday, is open to anyone who is interested in participating in the sessions.