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Aikido instructor promoted to 5th degree black belt

Jeffrey Hecht, head instructor at the Prairie Aikikai dojo in rural Sycamore, has been promoted to the rank of Godan – fifth degree black belt.
Jeffrey Hecht, head instructor at the Prairie Aikikai dojo in rural Sycamore, has been promoted to the rank of Godan – fifth degree black belt.

Jeffrey Hecht, head instructor at the Prairie Aikikai dojo in rural Sycamore, has been selected by the International Aikido Federation for promotion to the rank of Godan – fifth degree black belt.

Aikido is a modern Japanese Budo. It embodies a philosophy of peaceful coexistence and respect for other people. Aikido seeks to develop in each practitioner the highest level of ethical self-defense. Neither attacking nor provoking an attack, each person can learn to defend themselves with such skill and control that an attacker is neither killed nor seriously injured. It is for these reasons that Aikido skills have become core to the training undertaken by many police and security forces worldwide, according to a news release.

Hecht is a retired professor and associate dean from the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. He has been studying Aikido since 1984. He started learning Aikido while training to become a Reserve Sheriff’s Deputy for the Orange County, California, Sheriff’s Department. In addition to serving as a deputy sheriff, Hecht taught Aikido for three years in the Martial Arts Program at the University of California in Riverside.

He moved to Bloomington in 1990 and continued to teach Aikido for 10 years at the Aikido Club at Illinois State University. In 2000, he relocated to Sycamore to take a new job at NIU. Together with his wife Leslie, also an Aikidoka, he taught Aikido at NIU, in addition to his other duties, for 13 years prior to his retirement in 2015.

Hecht also has been teaching Aikido at the couple’s own school. The Prairie Aikikai dojo, located in rural Sycamore since 2002, holds classes three times each week in addition to visits to other regional dojos, seminars and camps.

For more information about Sensei Hecht and Aikido, visit www.prairieaikikai.com.

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