Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recently I was chatting with a friend and told him I was taking Aikido lessons. He responded negatively which surprised me some but I tried to explain to him why a man my age, 47 , would want to do this.
There are many reasons:

One ~ It has been a lifelong dream of mine to be an expert martial artist but one I have failed at achieving so far and I want to rectify that failure.

Two ~ I like the discipline that it brings to my life when I am part of a Dojo and practicing on a regular basis. I leads me to be more responsible in my eating habits as well as exercising and keeps me in much better shape.

Three ~ I have always been a big proponent of self defense, especially in such a violent culture as we live in today. The wife and I like to travel and we often find ourselves in places we have never been. Over the past several years we have been to Memphis, Chicago, Nashville, Washington, Sedona, San Francisco and many other places. I have been in situations where I was not totally comfortable with my surroundings as we explored these cities. If I were to be attacked I want to be able to protect my wife and myself from harm. It would be easy to just not go places that might be dangerous but I am an explorer at heart so this is really not an option for me.

There are other reasons but I will leave it at this for now. Aikido is a very effective art from what I can tell. It is so much different than the other forms I have seen and participated in and I really enjoy the sense of camaraderie at this Dojo. With me getting close to 50, this seems like the right time in my life to try and kick things up a notch or two and be more active and healthy. I am looking forward to some day achieving the goal of black belt and then progressing even further in the art. Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Martial Way

Aikido, "The Way of Harmonious Spirit".

Ai = Harmony

Ki = Spirit or Energy

Do = The Way

I have been interested in Aikido for over 20 years and have been a martial arts fan since the days Bruce Lee was introduced to America as "Kato" in the "Green Hornet" TV show back in the 60's. Unfortunately that show was canceled but Bruce Lee went on to become a legend in the area of martial arts and still 35 years after his death is talked about and seen in martial arts magazines around the world.

Steven Segal brought us Aikido back in the late 80's with his first movie "Above the Law". He, being a 7th degree black belt and Aikido Master was the first westerner to open a Dojo in Japan. I had dabbled in jujitsu and karate but never seemed to find my place in the world of martial arts until a few years ago. I met a fellow who is a 3rd dan in Tomiki Aikido and he and I started working out together. We did this off and on for a couple of years and I recently joined an Aikido Dojo here in the Charlotte area where I am starting from scratch to earn my credentials in Aikido.

Although I have some serious training like anything else you must practice constantly and often to acquire the skills necessary to achieve a high level of skill. I will be documenting my progress through this Aikido school here from time to time so check back in when you can to see what happens next.

One thing I like about Aikido is that it is a defensive art. The training provides you with a way to neutralize and attack from one person or multiple attackers, yet it allows you to defend yourself without causing serious injury to the attacker unless you choose to do so. In most cases it is not necessary to break and arm or dislocate a joint but if your life or the life of a loved one is in jeopardy then you do have the skills to eliminate the threat completely.

Aikido teaches you to evade and attack and re-direct the attackers energy and momentum. The key is the balance point and Aikido training teaches you to know where that point is and to take advantage of your opponents weakness in this regard. One other key to Aikido is recognizing that your strength comes from your core or center. This is where the Ki originates and is the fulcrum for all your Aikido techniques to be performed.

I Am looking forward to each training session as I try and learn these skills and perfect each technique available to me. I am grateful for this opportunity to learn from an experienced Sensei and some of his excellent black belts.

I am not mentioning any names as I do not have permission to do so and it would be disrespectful to the both Sensie's and the Dojo until I have that permission.

Aikido is also an art that promotes peace and well being, as a harmonious spirit is a peaceful spirit.

Peace be with you!