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.

Yung-Chia: Song of Realizing the Way (part 3 of 3)

"Let others criticise you. Let them condemn you. Trying to set the sky on fire, they'll just end up exhausted. I hear abusive words as though I were drinking ambrosia; everything melts, and suddenly I enter the inconceivable. When you understand the real value of abuse, your worst critic becomes a wise friend. If harsh words raise no waves of bitterness or pride, how better to show the persistence and compassion of the unborn?" —Yung-Chia

Jay Rinsen Chikyo Weik leads a retreat workshop at the Toledo Zen Center on April 20, 2008.

Drink the Gourdcast HERE.

Sakura Co. - Tools for the study of the Way

My Martial Journey

Tonight was Aikido class and Zendo time at the dojo for me. I was really in the mood for a vigorous workout and that is what I got. Following our warm up we went into some kokyu nage (breath throws) experiences. Through kokyu nage I learn about timing, positioning and trying to unbalance uke. When uke would perform men tsuki (punch to the head) I need to get into a safe position, connect and control uke’s balance. But what I find to be an important part of Aikido training is moving using the one point.
The one point is about 2-3 inches below the navel and by focusing on the one point it helps to create a very calm and powerful feeling during movement which is very helpful to performing Aikido. This one point has probably been the most helpful aspect of Aikido for me when I am in front of an orchestra. For me, this is easier to explain than to perform. I can sometimes be the comic book super hero “Spasmo” on the mat at times! This one point concept also helps one to “let go” which you will see to be a theme that I struggle with on my journey down the Aikido way. Letting go was problematic when we practiced koshi nage (hip throws) in class tonight. When I am uke I seem to attach my mind around not wanting to get thrown and to hit the ground That attachment causes me to hit the ground even harder when I resist. MOLTO OUCH!
In general, when I am uke and my feet leave the ground is when I lose the feeling of the one point. Some of my friends in the dojo get thrown and fly through the air, spin to the right, then make a left turn, have a sip of tea, check their email, all before landing gently like a feather upon the mat. And you know who you are! LOL But I digress, I will continue to practice and I may not land like a feather but I would settle for landing like a mattress someday! Sensei also mentioned this idea of dukka while we were on the mat. Dukka comes from the Four Noble Truths and refers to “Unsatifactoriness”. From the stand point of the mat dukka refers to not getting stuck in the way a technic is performed. It has to do with attachment. Whether it is attachment in how I fall, or how the music should sound, or how I look, etc that mental attachment creates dukka.

This leads to our Zendo session this evening. Following the chanting and zazen (meditation) for me, the lesson centered around being stuck in one’s life. Being stuck does not refer to overcoming challenges as much being stuck or trapped in one’s life. So often we become attached to elements or things in our lives. It reminds me of the TV show Desperate Housewives in the sense these women on the show have it all, looks, husbands, houses, cars, and yet they are stuck and unhappy in their lives. Accept stuckness and then do something about it. For me, not to get stuck in the trappings of success. Getting unstuck does not have to do with getting or buying more stuff, I get unstuck through zazen (meditation). I get unstuck through looking inside MYSELF! Holding up the mirror of zazen and taking a good honest look at what I am about and doing something about it.

That is all for now. These are just my impressions and are neither right nor wrong. I am headed to London see you “Chaps” when I get back.

Peace to you all,

The Maestro

Yung-Chia: Song of Realizing the Way (part 2 of 3)

Jay Rinsen Chikyo Weik leads a retreat workshop at the Toledo Zen Center on April 20, 2008.

"Seeing into the fundamental fact, you see into its expression as well." —Yung-Chia

Drink the GourdCast here.


Great victory, that's what it means. In the Way of Harmony, where the many merge into the one, how can there be such a thing as victory? In an arm, which is the most important? The fingers? The elbow? The muscles, bones, veins, or cartilage within? The answer is none ...and all. The muscles don't fight the bones. The veins don't compete with the cartilage. Instead the muscles fill themselves with blood to become stronger. The bones draw nutrients to become denser in order to support the muscles. The veins realize the dream of the heart and supply oxygen to the arm. All entities, selfless, working together for the good of the arm. This is a great victory: the one improving himself for the good of the many, or the whole. Infinitely. 
For example, while walking life's path, I stumble upon a koan and myself emerges. "Ah old friend, we meet again." I say as the comfortably familiar feeling of an irritant is introduced. "I'm looking forward to this battle." Great victory precedes enlightenment. " ...Here we go again!"

"The penetrating brilliance of swords
Wielded by followers of the Way
Strikes at the evil enemy
Lurking deep within
Their own souls and bodies."
- Morihei Ueshiba 

Joyful Unfolding

As my practice continues to unfold, I am repeatedly confronted with my self. I notice moving through cyclical layers, uncovering blindspots, making the same mistakes differently from a different understanding or maybe its a new mistake from the same understanding. Either way it keeps unfolding, providing me new opportunities to understand my self others, informing my life off the mat in so many beneficial ways as I relax into a personal difficulty or a technique. However, I go I look forward to the unfolding and the sharing in the unfolding of others practice, joyfully practicing, joyfully unfolding. Peace and Blessings-Andy

Yung-Chia: Song of Realizing the Way (part 1 of 3)

The Toledo Zen Center Drinking Gourd Podcast Presents:

Jay Rinsen Chikyo Weik leads a retreat workshop at the Toledo Zen Center on April 20, 2008.

"Haven't you met someone seasoned in the Way of Ease, a person with nothing to do and nothing to master, who neither rejects thought nor seeks truth? The real nature of ignorance is buddha-nature itself. The empty, illusory body is the very body of the Dharma. When the Dharma-body is realized, there's nothing at all. The original nature of all things is innately Buddha." —Yung-Chia

My Martial Journey

Back from NC and had a wonderful time making music with some very talented young people. Made it back to the mat and in Aikido class following the warm up we worked on some kokyu nage and then practiced with the shinai. It is always fascinating how much the weapons relate to the empty hand technics. In the class we examined taking uke’s center. With shinai you can really whack them into each other since they have a bamboo center and one thing I noticed for me, was that when I was going for the cut, if I missed my target (uke’s shinai) I would lose my balance. I would become so fixated on “making “contact happen with the shinai that when his/her shinai wasn’t where I expected, my center was thrown off as I missed. For me, make the proper cut and remain balanced regardless of the outcome. If contact is made great, if not, great but remain centered and balanced. A good lesson in life actually, remain balanced and centered regardless of the circumstances.

Wednesday is Aikido and Zendo time at the dojo for me. I appreciate the combination of working on the martial side and then to have the introspection of the meditation. During the meditation class Sensei takes part of the time to share a lesson with us which is followed by a discussion with the Sanga (participant community). The discussion is always interesting to hear the different perspectives of what other people heard and it usually helps me to understand the lesson better following this discussion. I believe that the central message that I received from the class was that opposites are unified. One might fail to see the connection between the physical nature of what we do on the mat versus the introspective quality of what happens in the Zendo and yet the two are closely united. Also the importance of zazen meditation. There was a phrase that Sensei used last night about the mind that I can’t recall at this time but it has to do with allowing the mind and spirit to teach us and guide us. The knowledge of what we need to grow is inside of all of us and it is a matter of being sensitive enough to listen and hear it. Zazen helps one to find that way by serving as a mirror to a person’s spirit.

Again, these are just some impressions of my experiences and these thoughts are open for discussion. There are times I wish I could take notes during class but I believe that this “Way” is more about understanding through experience. When someone asks me what is Aikido, I often just say come watch a class and even better get on the mat.

That is all for now. Peace.

The Maestro

Ne Waza Classes

After a period of relative dormancy, the ne waza (ground techniques) classes are up and running again. The classes are on Friday nights at 6:00 PM following the 5:00 "Gentle Aikido" class and would typically run about 1.5-2 hours, depending on the pace and number of participants. They are lead by our own Mike "Dokei" Mulvaney, 1st Dan in Aikido and 2nd Dan in Judo.

In Aikido there are three general areas or phases of training: tachi waza, hanmi handachi, and suwari waza. On the other hand, Judo has basically two phases of training: tachi waza and ne waza. Ne waza is seldom emphasized in Aikido training, so it is a real treat to have Dokei-san offer his services and expertise on this subject.

With its chokes and joint locks, ne waza may be viewed by some as brutal, animalistic, and competitive in nature. On the contrary, I personally find it very cerebral, sophisticated and fluid, not to mention fun; one may portray it as kinetic chess. In describing ne waza -- in particular osaekomi waza, an aspect of ne waza that focuses on methods of body control -- the late John Osako Sensei of the Detroit Judo Club offered an analogy. "Visualize a man and a snake," he stated. "The snake is coiled around the man's arm; the man has the snake's head firmly in his closed hand. Neither is in control; both are in danger. If the man releases the snake's head, he will be bitten. If the snake releases the man's arm he can be smashed against a sharp rock, or thrown to the ground and shot. However, if the man can shake the snake loose, still maintaining his grip on the head, he will be in control. The snake's body will be free to writhe and twist in the air, but he cannot escape." Furthermore, under Dokei-san's guidance, we explore the application and fusion of aiki principles to ground/grappling techniques. And so for me, these ne waza classes serve as a facet of and supplement to my budo training.

To give you an idea of what ne waza is like, below is a clip from an instructional video on Judo's ne waza techniques. It is in Japanese and offers no English subtitles, but at least you can appreciate what we go over in class, more or less. So please feel free to check these classes out!


-Andre ("Muketsu")


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