Aikido is a non-competitive martial art that can be practiced by almost anyone. Aikido techniques do not rely on physical strength but rather develops relaxed power through the focus of intention and Ki. The result is a creative method of non-destructive conflict resolution.
Aikido is practiced on many levels. The first level is includes the development of stamina, flexibility, and learning how to focus one's intention. The second level is built on the first and stresses self-defense techniques that teach the natural order of movement. In this process the students also become adept at ukemi, the art of rolling, falling and protecting oneself. Aikido provides the opportunity for the development of the entire person. It is a workout of the entire body and mind and results in increased strength, overall physically fitness, flexibility and centeredness.
At the third level students are gradually introduced to the secrets of receiving and harnessing the power of ki, they also develop spatial awareness and learn to judge proper timing and distance. During this training the goal is to establish and maintain an energetic connection to your partner and to lead them off balance. This eliminates the need for more destructive means of resolving situations.
The highest level of aikido is mind over matter. This involves the use of visualization techniques, the power of intention and ki, breath control and meditation. Aikido is truly a spiritual martial art that explores themind - body - spirit connection. This advanced level of training at Shobu Aikido reaches a level not easily found elsewhere. The student learns how to manifest power and effectiveness by the focusing of intention alone. This level depends on and can only be reached through the refinement of technique and the students own deepest feeling. For this reason it alternates between the physical and the spiritual.
In the process of practicing aikido, students inevitably find themselves less stressed and more energetic, better equipped to manage life's many conflicts with calm control. Aikido is great for adults and kids alike because practice encourages respect for self and others, self control, cooperation and responsibility.
Gasshuku or weekend long intensive seminars with William Gleason Sensei are available seasonally.
Children's aikido classes provide a friendly, non-competitive environment for students to become more physically fit, agile, flexible, aware, focused, and relaxed. They learn how to safely fall, roll and perform a variety of self-defense techniques in a supportive, comfortable setting, and parents like Aikido because kids learn how to be powerful without becoming destructive.
Here is a guide I copied off of AikiFAQ (see the links to the left)
Strictly speaking , the following pronunciation guide is not precise since Japanese has it's own system of pronunciation, but it will help you to figure out good approximations, If you keep in mind that the Japanese words as written in this glossary are transliterations, and as such should be read phonetically, and not as you would read an English language word.
a-Like the vowel in car, but pronounced further forward in the mouth.
e-like e in ten.
i-like e in we.
o-similar to o in gone but with lips slightly more rounded.
u-similar to u in put but with lips not rounded.
Note: Between Voiceless consonants (k,p,s,t,h) or after a voiceless consonant at the end of a phrase, the vowels i and u are generally not pronounced at all, e.g., Tsuki is pronounced (t)ski and torikeshi is pronounced torikesh.
These are pronounced approximately as in English with the following exceptions;
g-is pronounced as in English go when at the beginning of a word; everywhere else it is pronounced like ng in ring.
n-as in English no.
r-is pronounced with the tongue more or less in the position for l (there is no separate l in Japanese), but the tongue does not touch the front of the mouth, nor is the sound "rolled".
s-is always hard as in see.
In Andre's excellent blog post about beginners, he mentioned several words. Japanese is known for it's honorific and polite phrasing, and there are many levels of politeness, depending on the situation and who you are speaking with. "Dozo" (doh-zou) indicates "go ahead", but literally means "Please...", the 'go ahead' is understood. "Onegai shimasu" (Oh-ne-gae-shi-mas(u)) literally means "will you do me the favor of..." something. "Domo arigato gozaimasu" (doh-moh-a-ri-gah-tou-go-zae-mas(u)) is thanking someone very deeply, more honorific than "domo arigato". A punch or strike to the mid-section, "mune tsuki", is pronounced "Mu-net-ski"
Great job by all, Robert-san (ikkyu) and by Eric, Rich, and Tom ( all three rokukyu). Eric was simply...what to say?...awesome!
Omedeto gozaimasu! (congratulations)
Gambatte kudasai! (keep your chin up...keep up the good work)
If you would like to post to this blog under your own identity please send me your name and a email address that you would like to use. I plan on creating co-authorship accounts for those that want to post as themselves and not as the the generic Toledo Aikido user account. If interested please send your info to email@example.com. You will receive a confirmation email from the blog and after you configure a few things you will have the ability to self-post your own topics and comments.
Come on out after Keiko to enjoy the music and support two of our dojo Jazzers!
We've all been through it before. Like many of you, I started on the far end of the mat with no rank, no hakama, no prior experience in any martial art -- just my gi, my white belt, and a curiosity and eagerness to learn. Those first few classes were, I admit, somewhat difficult because it was like learning a complex dance routine. Feeling lost and confused at times, I was fortunate to have such friendly, patient, and helpful sempai in Doug Krohn, Danny Kline, and especially the late Ken Bender among others who showed me the ropes and welcomed me into the community.
So I can understand how many of you as beginning students in Aikido would feel lost and out of place, especially since the style of learning at the dojo is different from the conventional classroom we're all used to where the teacher spoonfeeds all the information. In the dojo, there are no beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes per se, and the content of the "lectures" are open-ended. And so you pretty much have to learn as you go. Here are some things that I learned along the way and would like to share with you to make your experience as a beginner easier.
1. Know the basic attacks and execute them correctly.
These include the following:
- shomen uchi (hand blade strike to the top of the head)
- yokomen uchi (hand blade strike to the side of the head)
- mune tsuki (punch to the midsection)
- men tsuki (punch to the face)
- kata tori (shoulder grab)
- katate tori (wrist grab)
- ryote tori (grabbing both wrists)
- morote tori (grabbing your partner's wrist with both hands)
2. UKEMI, UKEMI, UKEMI.
First of all, I cannot stress enough how important it is to gain proficiency in taking rolls. This is important for two reasons: 1) to protect yourself from injury and 2) as you progress it will be very difficult to learn and perform the intermediate and advanced techniques if you cannot do the rolls well. I remember when I first started Aikido, Sensei would have me practice rolling on one section of the mat by myself during class while everyone else was practicing techniques. He would allow me to join the group only when I was comfortable with my rolls.
Second, ukemi also involves knowing uke's part of the technique. Know what uke is supposed to do during the technique; know the correct position, posture, and shape of uke's part. For example, in shomen uchi ikkyo, remember that as uke, your arm should be round, not straight as to leave you susceptible to an armbar. At the same time, you should be facing your partner. If you turn your head and body away, you will be susceptible to a blind-sided strike.
3. Be extremely and meticulously observant.
You may have noticed that there is minimal talking on the mat during class. And when Sensei teaches, he usually demonstrates a technique on an uke with little explanation, says "Dozo" (Go ahead), and then leaves us -- many dumbfounded -- to figure it out on our own. This is how O Sensei taught to his uchi deshi (personal students or disciples) when he was alive. Many of his students had prior experience in different martial arts before practicing Aikido and were masters of their respective arts. And yet he still managed to leave them dumbfounded as well. So don't despair.
Because of the way Sensei teaches, you have to be pretty quick in taking in all of the information so that you can execute the move correctly, only to find yourself struggling to do so. Here is a systematic approach that I use as I watch Sensei demonstrating a technique. First, I try to get a big picture or general appreciation of how the technique unfolds. Next, I carefully observe Sensei's hands, his exact hand placement and movement. Then I pay close attention to where he positions himself with respect to his partner. Then I look closely at his footwork. Finally, I try to put it all together in my mind. If I have time, I try to observe uke as well -- how he attacks, how he positions himself, how he moves and shapes his body, and how they all relate to how Sensei executes the technique.
Afterwards as I work with a partner, I try to copy and recreate every move that Sensei just showed to the last detail as best as I can. This approach requires you to be very methodical and meticulous, but it works. And when you are working with a more experienced partner, do not merely stand there as a bystander as your partner is performing the technique on you. Rather, use the same approach on your partner. Pay very close attention to how he is doing the technique -- where he places his hands, how he positions himself, how he moves his feet. If you want, you can request your partner to go slowly. And then do the same thing when you switch roles as you are nage and your more experienced partner is uke. Observe how he takes ukemi as you perform the technique on him. This is very valuable to your learning experience and in your training.
4. Work with as many partners as possible.
Of all my years in the dojo, I keep noticing how newcomers always have a tendency to position themselves on the far side of the mat. Yes, it is true that we line up according to seniority with the more senior students towards the locker room and the more junior students towards the weapons. However, this is only the case at the opening of class and at the conclusion of class. In between when Sensei is teaching and demonstrating, you can sit wherever you want. Move around. If you sit at a specific area of the mat most of the time, you will only work with a limited number of people and miss the opportunity of training with a variety of students, each with a different level of experience. So don't be shy to position yourself next to any of the more senior sempai in class and turn to him/her and say "Onegai shimasu" after Sensei is finished. We will be more than happy to train with you. I myself enjoy working with new students, especially those that are eager to learn, put forth the effort, and are not afraid to commit mistakes.
5. Remember that every technique begins and ends in hanmi stance.
This is more of a technical point than a word of advice, but I think it's worth mentioning. Many martial arts have a variety of stances, but in Aikido we basically have only one stance. According to the ASU Handbook, hanmi is "the relaxed triangular stance of Aikido. It is stable yet flexible enough to move quickly in any direction. All technique begins, moves through and ends in hanmi." Throughout your training and as you are preparing for your 6th kyu test and subsequent tests, please keep this in mind.
6. Don't allow yourself to be easily discouraged.
Nobody ever started anything new as an expert. As in life, it takes years of experience. For those of us who appear to "get it" on the first try, it is a result of persistent and consistent training on the mat as well as insightful and meticulous study. One joy in life is that there is always something new to learn. So have fun and enjoy the ride.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask Sensei or any of your colleagues on the mat including yours truly. Gassho.
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