Why Basics are Important

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.


The Butterfly Effect

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.


Learn a Skill That Will Last a Lifetime. Beginners Always Welcome!!!

Pay us a visit and learn more about Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido. It differs from many other styles of Aikido by demonstrating how the power of the mind influences the body and makes techniques more flowing and powerful. So practice is not only good for the body, but the mind as well.

Come and watch a class or take a free class. Ask plenty of questions. We have a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Aikido helps us live in harmony, not only with others, but ourselves, as we learn how thoughts and feelings affect our movements and our daily lives. The goal is not to harm others or gratify one’s ego.

Learn a skill that you can keep for a lifetime. Read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to learn more. Feel free to write or call us to ask any questions. South Mountain Aikido is a member of the Midland Ki Federation of the Ki Society. Our Chief Instructor is Koichi Kashiwaya Sensei, 8th Dan. See the pictures from our October training camp in Frederick.

Our teaching philosophy:  “Spare no effort when you teach. You advance as your students advance. Do not be impatient when you teach. No one can learn everything well at one time. Perseverance is important in teaching, as are patience, kindness and the ability to put yourself in your students’ place.”Tohei Sensei.

South Mountain Aikido

500 West Patricxk Street

Phone: 301-514-3415
Website: www.southmountainaikido.com


Kokyunage Drill with Kashiwaya Sensei






Be Humble

Ego can be the biggest obstacle to learning. It’s not always about you. Help others learn. They are just as part of creation as you. Accept that you don’t know, but be willing to learn. Realize that you may not understand a concept or a throw in a single class. It may take a week, a month, a year or a lifetime. Best to figure on a lifetime. Don’t blame others if you don’t understand. Maybe your mind just isn’t ready. The epiphany will come in due time and it will mean so much more. Be joyful in your practice. Play. The world benefits more from your joy than your black belt. You’ll be remembered by how you make others feel, not by your rank.


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Time to Give It a Try!!!!

 The time has come to take a free class or at least watch a class. Besides learning new skills, you’ll meet some great people. And it’s very affordable. Stop by and say hello. No obligation. Our students range in age from 13 to 71. Where do you fit in? Hope to see you soon!


Our article in Be Well magazine.

The 2013 Fall edition contains an article on aikido by Joe De Capua, head instructor at South Mountain. It’s a general overview of the martial art.

You can also read the article online at by clicking the link below.

Magazine article


New South Mountain T-Shirt!!!


Also comes in Sport Gray and Carolina Blue