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.

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


Bob Bartels said...

I too went through a period of feeling very uncentered when being thrown - In fact I remember hoping quite often that the evenings keiko concluded without any rolls. I still remember the day that I decided to let go of any thoughts that would hinder my progress and chose the trial by fire route by having senpai Danny throw me numerous times until I'd had enough. After that inner battle was fought it gradually became easier to let go of any prohibitive attachments. Granted I'm still not comfortable breakfalling on pavement however maybe if I in vision a feather floating beforehand . . .


Muketsu said...

Nice posting, Maestro-san!

I don't know about my fellow aiki-colleagues, but personally I don't have time to check my e-mail when I am in the air. However, like Usain Bolt, I indeed take pleasure in posing in front of the crowds, looking at the competition behind me, and then eyeing at the photographers and pounding my chest before crossing the finish line - er, I mean - before landing on the mat ;)

No seriously, the keys to taking good ukemi - especially if you're aiming for those spectacular, breathtaking, "landing-like-a-feather" breakfalls - are 1) trusting yourself and 2) losing yourself at the moment. After taking ukemi numerous times, your body will develop muscle memory so that it will know how to land with any type of throw. Therefore , it is important to trust yourself and your ability to land safely. Next, it is also important to avoid anticipating or worrying about how you will be thrown or what will happen to you after being thrown. If you worry or anticipate, then you will completely miss the experience and the essence of the technique, not to mention actually putting yourself at risk of injury. Instead, let go of any attachments that you may have and just go with the flow. To put into terms that you may understand, let the music unfold on its own and savor the experience and feeling that the composition in the form of aikido technique evokes.

I hope this helps. Have fun in the UK!

-Andre ("Muketsu")

Invigilator said...

Overcoming so many barriers in Aikido (I find) is a combination of focus and relaxation. Most of my botched Ukemi can be attributed to tension, whether in the body or the mind.


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