Welcome!!!Welcome to the mat of infinite possibilities. Enter with an open mind, joy and respect. Learn. And help others learn. Leave your ego at the door. It will await your return. Expect great things from yourself and others.
Tohei Sensei:“Do not think that the power you have is only the power you ordinarily use and moan that you have little strength. The power you ordinarily use is like the small, visible segment of an iceberg. When we unify our mind and body and become one with the universe, we can use the great power that is naturally ours.”
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Class are being held Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 and Saturday mornings from 9 to 11.
Students attending Monday and Wednesday evening classes have been fully vaccinated. We ask all those wishing to join to get vaccinated. This not only offers protection, but shows respect for fellow students and the dojo. Masks are not required if fully vaccinated, but students may wear them if them choose.
“…we fight against making mistakes. But mistakes are a natural process; to be alive is to make mistakes. To align with the Tao, try to consider mistakes as nature’s lessons from which you can learn, recover your energies, and forge ahead. According to the Tao Te Ching, setbacks are natural and inevitable. They are gifts that provide opportunities to improve your performance.” — From the book Thinking Body,Dancing Mind.
So much media attention these days is given to mixed martial arts. And while the men and women competing are very skilled fighters, the goal of MMA and traditional martial arts can be very different. The aim of traditional martial arts is not to beat another human being into submission. A good program actually can make students less aggressive. It teaches physical and mental discipline, along with respect for others and yourself.
And as you get older, it can take longer to heal. So, youth is a prerequisite for MMA. However, age should not be a deterrent for Aikido and some other arts. In Aikido, you’ll often find a wide age range. Students learn in a cooperative atmosphere where they improve their techniques and the mental aspects that actually make those techniques flow.
I’ve had 50 year old men come into the dojo. Many feel fragile at turning 50, as they reminisce about the days when they did full contact karate. I ask them if they want to do full contact karate now and they immediately say no. But they’re under the mistaken impression that just because they’re not in their 20s or 30s that they can’t learn something new. That’s sad.
Aikido is not based on strength and speed as they know them. And it’s a challenge in the beginning for them to relax as they move. That muscle tension often comes from the mind. It’s counter intuitive for them. Take elite athletes. They’re not tense as they perform. Yet, they appear powerful and fast. But consider their movement is more of relaxation and flow, backed by mental confidence and a good understanding of what can be accomplished when the mind and body are in harmony. That in part is Aikido.
Oh, and it’s fun. Hope you’ll stop by for a visit.
Joe DeCapua, Lead Instructor, South Mountain Aikido.
Some people, as they get older, are wary about learning a martial art. That’s often because of the image martial arts have in this country: One person trying to beat another person to a pulp. When you’re older, that image loses its appeal, especially when it takes longer to heal. Let’s consider what Aikido has to offer the older student.
Moving. Without movement the body rusts. Aikido teaches how to move in a relaxed, flowing manner, while enhancing balance. As students learn to harmonize body and mind, they discover that strength and power come from calmness and relaxation. In the beginning, speed can be a hindrance and physical strength alone inadequate. Remember, when athletes are in the zone, their mind and body are working together for optimal performance.
At first. much time is spent learning how to move in new ways. It’s not hard, but it can be confusing. So it can take a a few weeks or so. A beginner in anything may feel a bit awkward or clumsy. But it’s temporary and everyone on the mat has been there. Best way to deal with it is to practice….and laugh about it.
In Aikido, we don’t compete with others. Instead, we try to improve what we can do little by little. Be better than we were last class. And other students help. By teaching another, you actually teach yourself. Oh, you will m ake new friends.
Today, the West is beginning to learn the benefits of mindfulness. Repetition, without intent or purpose, has limited benefits. Sports psychologists can confirm this. The movements we practice have a specific purpose that will become clear.
The beginner, older or younger, will discover that some beliefs and assumptions have to be discarded because they can be self-limiting. Having an open mind and a good imagination are vital. Self criticism is a waste of time. You can’t learning anything without making mistakes, often a lot of mistakes. Aikido is no different. Remember, it’s said that Thomas Edison tried and failed 10,000 times before he found the right way to make a light bulb. Every mistake teaches us something and the older student is often wise enough and patient enough to understand that.
Now, of course, an older student will not move like a 20 year old. Sigh. But we learn to move better and better with the body we have.
However, one of the best things is to realize the mind’s relationship to the body. This was known to martial arts masters centuries ago and it’s a major component of Ki-Aikido. You’ve heard of chi? In Japanese, it’s Ki. It’s the part about Aikido you can study for the rest of your life.
So, the welcome mat is out. Believe in yourself….and don’t get rusty.
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KIHION O MANABU – From the book Flashing Steel
There is always a great temptation, particularly for beginners, to learn the flashy, fancy, or difficult techniques of any martial art. It is natural for you to feel this way. Especially if you have a desire to excel…and truly master it. However, your primary emphasis must be on the fundamentals.
It is true with any martial art that a practitioner who has truly mastered the basics will handily defeat one who has trained in advanced techniques after having only cursory knowledge of the fundamentals. If you understand the true nature of basic techniques, it is easy to see why this is universally true.
Basics are no more or no less than the ideal technique as it would be performed under ideal circumstances. Fundamentals demonstrate the perfect method of maximizing power, balance, self-protection, and effectiveness of technique. It is only after you have mastered performing under such ideal conditions that you can learn how to best adapt basic techniques to less than ideal circumstances.
It is also a mistake to assume that basics are only for beginners. Emphasis on fundamentals must be a lifelong habit. Anyone who has studied the lives of the great martial arts masters has observed that, without exception, they have shared a continuing passion for improving their basics.
This is not about chaos theory. The is about the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly. We might feel sorry for the butterfly as it strains and struggles to break free of its cocoon. We may be tempted to help by peeling away the cocoon, so the butterfly can get out more easily. And while that indeed may work, it could have dire consequences for the butterfly. It may not be able to fly. You see, the strain and struggle make the butterfly stronger. Strong enough to spread its wings and take flight.
It’s the same in Aikido training. Repetition, persistence, determination and especially overcoming frustration go a long way toward mastering a throw. Besides raising your skill level, you also gain invaluable insight. Skill and insight much deep than if a sensei simply gave you all the answers.
So, the next time you feel you’re not making progress, keep at it, you may be on the verge of breaking out of your cocoon.
The documentary features Kashiwaya Sensei, 8th Dan, head of the Midland Ki Federation of which we are a member. Enjoy!!!