Tag Archives: aikido

Teaching Children The Way of Harmony

The following is a press release, which I wrote for my dojo, to be released to a local newspaper (hopefully soon! Please, Sunstar Davao!).  Doing press releases and stuff like that isn’t really my forte, but we do need to advertise if we want the dojo to survive and thrive.  So here I am doing my bit to let people know we exist.  Now if you will excuse me, I need to go into Marketing mode now.

Parents, are you interested in letting your children learn martial arts? This summer, Bu Yuu Kan dojo is offering six weeks of introductory Aikido classes for children from ages 6 to 12 years of age. But before we talk about fees and schedules, let us first make something clear: what is Aikido, and why should you let your child study it?

What is Aikido?

The word “Aikido” is often associated with action star Steven Seagal, who is himself a high-ranking instructor as well as Aikido’s most famous exponent. Anyone who has watched Seagal’s early films will likely associate the martial art with brutal throws and joint locks, done in a smooth and calm manner. It is not uncommon to hear this from people who don’t really know what this martial art is all about: “Aikido? Yan ba yung kay Steven Seagal? ‘Di ba bali-an yan ng buto?” (Aikido? Is that the one that Steven Seagal practices? Isn’t that bone-breaking stuff?) While there certainly is some truth to that, there is so much more to this martial art.

Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art developed by the late Morihei Ueshiba. “Ai” is translated as “harmony”, “union”, “joining”, etc. “Ki” is often translated as “energy”, “life force”, or “spirit”. “Do” means “way”, “path”, “art”. Thus Aikido may be translated as the “Way of joining energy”, “path of harmonizing spirit”, or simply, the “Way of Harmony”.

To the observer, an Aikido demonstration looks like a flowing, whirling dance among the participants. Aikido movements are circular and spiral. The movements are designed to allow the practitioner to neutralize the opponent/s by blending and redirecting his/her attacks into throws, locks, or pins that exploit the attacks’ speed and power. By utilizing the force of their attacks, it is possible for the skilled Aikidoka (Aikido practitioner) to neutralize even bigger, stronger, and more powerful opponents. Indeed, the more powerful the attack, the harder the throw or pin.

The Way of Harmony goes beyond the martial context, however. It also has ethical and moral dimensions. Indeed, the highest form of Aikido application would be to neutralize one’s attackers without harming them. The Aikidoka realizes that simply defeating an opponent, while perhaps necessary in certain situations, is at best a short-term solution. In the long run, it is necessary to work for lasting peace and harmony. Therefore, the first and most important opponent for the Aikidoka is himself/herself. Or as the Founder would say: “True victory is self-victory.”

The practice of Aikido reflects this philosophy. There is no sparring or competition. Aikidokas take turns in the nage (defender) and uke (attacker) roles, practicing two-person and multiple-person drills that teach the techniques and principles of Aikido. Students practice controlled falls on specially designed mats – these help them absorb the throws, locks and pins with minimal impact and reduced risk of injury. An attitude of caring and mutual respect among Aikidokas is emphasized.

What will your children learn?

The summer introductory course will be taught in eighteen (18) 90-minute classes, to be held three times a week for six weeks. In this period your children will learn the fundamental footwork and body movements of Aikido, as well as basic rolls and controlled falls. Because this is a class for children, there will be less emphasis on the combative aspects of the art, except for a few basic techniques that will be practiced slowly under the supervision of the instructors and senior students. They will learn how to apply the Aikido movements to evade strikes and escape from holds, while taking care not to injure their opponents. They will also learn to fall safely, which is a valuable skill that can be transferred to other physical activities. Furthermore, as this is a Japanese martial art, they will be exposed to the traditional culture of Japan.

Through this practice, your children will be able to cultivate the following qualities:

  • Discipline
  • Focus
  • Respect
  • Self-restraint
  • Confidence

They will also be able to enjoy the following health and fitness benefits:

  • Flexibility
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Agility
  • Mind/body coordination

Finally, they will be exposed to the philosophy of Aikido, which is resolving conflict not simply by defeating an external enemy but also and ultimately by addressing the roots of conflict.

Fee and schedule:

The fee is Php2000/student for eighteen (18) 90-minute sessions. They will also receive two Aikido Kids T-shirts. The classes are every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Start of classes will be on April 7, and the last day will be May 16. We also have adult classes on the same days from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, if you’re interested in joining.

What to bring and wear:

Your children may bring a change of clothing and water, although we do have a water dispenser in our dojo. Since this is an introductory course, wearing Aikido uniforms won’t be necessary. Your children may come in jogging pants and t-shirts.

Dojo address and location:

Space 17, Level 2, Esmar Plaza, Illustre Extension, Davao City. The building is behind OroDerm hotel in Magallanes Street.

About Bu Yuu Kan Dojo:

Bu Yuu Kan Dojo is an Aikido club under Seiwakai Inc., a non-stock, non-profit organization dedicated to the practice and instruction of the art of Aikido. Seiwakai Inc., is under Seiwakai Japan, an organization founded by the late Koichi Shibata (8th dan black belt) directly affiliated with the Aikikai Foundation in Japan.

 

For inquiries, text/call mobile no: 09228678733 (look for Ronald)

And like our Facebook page: Seiwakai Aikido Buu Yuu Kan Dojo

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Reluctantly, for the Time Being

“Raf, we have a problem…”  So began my senpai’s (all you non-Japanese out there, read that as dojo senior) sentence last Wednesday.  But let’s backtrack first to several months before, when I informed everyone in the Aikido dojo that I was taking a year’s time off from Aikido to focus on my FMA practice.  That meant I would neither practice nor handle any classes.  That shouldn’t have been a problem given that there are several black belts in our organization, myself included.  But for reasons that I’m too lazy to elaborate here (let’s just say that we now have two dojos, effectively dividing the number of qualified instructors in half – but it gets WAY more complicated than that), there is a current shortage of available instructors in the new dojo.

And so once again I find myself reluctantly stepping up to teach.  I say ‘reluctantly’ but dammit I really do miss being on the mats, and I am looking forward to this Thursday evening.  It’s just that…

…you know the feeling that maybe you’ve bitten off way more than you can possibly masticate and swallow?

Thursday evening is when I go to my FMA class in the local YMCA.  Make that Thursday 7:30 to 9:00 in the evening.  Aikido class is from 6:00 to 7:30 in the evening – that’s assuming people will come on time.  Good thing both classes are located relatively close to each other in the downtown area.  That would mean that by the time I arrive at the YMCA they will probably be at least halfway through the basic methods and drills (assuming they start on time).  That would also mean that I will be coming to FMA practice at least a little tired.  That concerns me.

I can only allot one evening a week for martial arts training.  Let me rephrase that: given my current life situation, I am only willing to budget one evening a week for martial arts training in a formal class.  I can train on my own any time – it’s the evening classes that I’m referring to here.  Squeezing in two martial arts in one evening then going to work the next morning may be too much for my body – and maybe even my mind – to take.  I don’t think it’s healthy and sustainable in the long term.

People in their twenties will probably not appreciate this yet, but when you get to a certain age you will feel the aftermath of any physical activity you practice like you’ve never felt them before.  Your recovery time will not be as fast.  I know because when I try to do too much in terms of training – whether it’s martial arts, parkour, or whatever physical activity that floats your boat – I either start getting cranky, or sick, or injured.  Heck, having a hangover from drinking one too many beers the night before feels worse and seems to last longer than before.  So if in the past you worked out, had sore muscles the next day then the day after you felt fine, now it might take you two days to recover.  Add to that your daily responsibilities, your job, the chores, the kids, the other things you also want to do…

Anyway, that’s the reason I wanted to take time off from Aikido in the first place.  Given my life situation, both in terms of what I need to do and what I WANT to do, it just made sense to focus on just one martial art for a year.  That way I could also squeeze in some parkour training, plus music, plus writing, plus spending time with my family IN THE EVENINGS (because, DUH, I have a freaking day job)…. blah blah blah… yadda yadda yadda… I’ll stop here.

Now you have an idea why I am reluctant to go back to the dojo.  So why go back at all?

The simple answer is: I am needed there.  Of course I could have said no.  That’s a very basic discipline, by the way: the act of saying no.  No, I will not do X.  No, I will not commit to A at this point because I am already committed to B.  No, no, no.  And I’ve been very good at saying no this past several months.  But I will not say no just for the sake of saying no.  Right now, somebody has to handle the Thursday Aikido classes.

Right now, that person is me.

Reluctantly, for the time being.


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