Blue Lake Aikido celebrates first junior black belt |

Blue Lake Aikido celebrates first junior black belt

Steve Yingling

Morgan Montoya has accomplished something very few athletes in the area ever realize.

No, he hasn’t hit for the cycle in a youth baseball game.

There hasn’t been a basketball game where Montoya has poured in 10 three-points shots.

Basketball and baseball are two of his favorite sports and perhaps someday the South Shore boy will accomplish those feats. But the 12-year-old has pulled off something in youth sports that is pretty rare. Earlier this year, Montoya became the first junior black belt at Blue Lake Aikido in South Lake Tahoe.

“It’s really important to me because I’m the first junior black belt to go into dojo,” said of his promotion to dojo, which is a Japanese term for a gathering place for martial arts students to train. “It makes me feel good, too, because my mom is proud of me and my dad is proud of me, too.”

Sensei Mark Dulyanai said Montoya’s ascencion to a black belt stems from the pleasure the youngster gets from Aikido, a Japanese martial art that is described as the way of unifying with life energy.

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“He enjoys what he is doing, and that’s important with any activity,” said Dulyanai, who has taught Aikido in the community since 2000. “As a student, he has a lot of determination and is not afraid to fail. And when he does, he is OK with it and keeps going.

“He also has an incredibly supportive family.”

Five years of training made it possible for Montoya to reach junior black belt status, but it wasn’t achieved by passing a test of any sort. Montoya’s promotion was more about his growth in Aikido: maturity, leadership and mastering of technique.

In celebrating Montoya’s black belt promotion with family and friends, he was asked to give a special presentation revealing, in part, his Aikido skills and knowledge. Montoya was also asked to perform a hidden talent, and he chose to entertain those in attendance by playing piano keyboard.

“It was nerveracking,” he said.

Although Montoya is pleased with his accomplishment, he has a loftier goal to pursue in Aikido.

“My goal is to get at least a real black belt, not my junior. It takes a long time my sensei says,” Montoya said.

Blue Lake Aikido is a nonprofit educational organization devoted to the instruction of Aikido and other related arts. Ages 5 and above are eligible to join. For more information, phone (530) 544-0202.

– Paula McGrath contributed to this story.