There are currently openings for Adult and Children students. Interested candidates are invited to observe a class. The dojo is co-located with the Toledo Zen Center at 6537 Angola Road Holland, OH 43558

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.

Muketsu Challenges Rickson Gracie

No, not really. To conclude my West Coast Tour of Terror, I decided to satisfy a curiousity of mine and try out Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu as referred to in some circles. BJJ is sort of the "craze" martial art and is a popular style used and studied by fighters of the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) because of its approach in neutralizing strikers and larger opponents by closing the distance, taking them to the ground, and applying a submission. BJJ has its origins from Judo, not "jujutsu" (at least not directly), as advertised by popular legend. Jujutsu is a koryu, or old traditional, art used by the samurai. Jigoro Kano Sensei took certain aspects of jujutsu, refined them, and created Judo. A man by the name of Mitsuyo Maeda was a member of the Kodokan and practiced Judo around the world. When Maeda came to Brazil, he taught Judo to the Gracie family and referred the art he taught as "Jujutsu," not Judo. Why he did that no one knows. What is known is that a member of the family, Helio Gracie, focused heavily on the ground techniques (newaza) of Judo, and modified and enhanced the techniques and gave birth to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

One of Helio Gracie's sons, Rickson Gracie, is considered to be the best BJJ practitioner of all the members of the Gracie family. Rickson has a school in L.A. and I decided to check it out. I attended a beginner's class, but it was not Rickson who taught it. Rather it was one of the black belt instructors. We began classes with warm-up exercises which consisted of running laps around the mat, crunches, back stretches, neck exercises, and rolls. Then for the next 45 minutes or so, we only went through two techniques: throwing from a collar grab and triangle choke from a closed guard position. The instructor was not a hands-on teacher. After he demonstrated a technique, he would sit on the mat and observe us, but he would not walk around and work with us individually, especially if we're having trouble. He would just shout directions from a distance. Sometimes he would not even observe and instead talk with the assistant instructors, chatting about competitions and such. And can you guess how much they charged me for the mat fee? $50. That's right, fifty freakin' dollars. At Furuya Sensei's dojo, I paid $20. And at the Santa Barbara dojo, I only had to pay $10. And I learned a lot more from those dojos than this one. I do not want to judge a school or even a martial art based on just one class, especially if it's only a beginner's class. But I do firmly believe in making a good first impression. And with all due respect, in my humble opinion, I was not impressed. I honestly think that my sparring sessions with Mike Mulvaney-san are more worthwhile.

Gleason Sensei once offered an anecdote of someone asking O-Sensei why there is no grappling in Aikido. He answered, "That's for dogs." Aikido is derived from samurai culture, which focused on the sword, not on grappling. Same thing goes for kicks (geri). The samurai emphasized on sword movement and wore armor, so kicks were not useful and therefore unnecessary. However, according to Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu, with enough practice it would be feasible to apply aiki principle to kicking defense.

Finally, to end my experience, my brother took us to this awesome sushi bar in West Hollywood. This establishment serves traditional sushi - NO California rolls, NO spicy tuna rolls, NO teriyaki, NO tempura. We sampled fresh fish from all over the world including Spain, Japan, New Zealand, the East Coast, Canada, and Hawaii. And let me tell you my friends, they're not foolin' around: this is the real deal, the genuine article. I ate 30 different samples of sushi. My brother - 29. Awesome.

That's it. It was a great spring break. Tomorrow I'll be returning to the 419. I hope that the quality of your practice has not diminished in the absence of my awesome presence :D I'll see you guys on the mat. Later. Gassho.

-Andre ("Muketsu")

P.S. Chris-san and Chuck-san, I am trying to stay away from the girls with Adam's apples and who drink White Zinfandel. Thanks for the heads up :)

Correction (3/31/07): According to Sensei, O-Sensei said "It's so unsightly" not "That's for dogs." My bad.


Chris W said...

Muketsu, I think that the Gracie's might be kind of wealthy, what do you think? But seriously, though, The journal of your trip has been very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to post it. Very cool.

toledoaikido said...

Actually, O sensei said "Its so unsightly" not "Its for dogs".

- Jay

Anonymous said...

Story, i enjoyed sharing this.

Anonymous said...

you would get demolished by rickson gracie....literally it wouldnt be a contest. Your definition of jiujitsu comparing it to mma is just all around wrong. there is no striking in jiu jitsu. I doubt you even went to ricksons gym and if your going to challenge him, why dont you do it openly, not for people to join your martial art..
you pussy


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