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Aikido the healthier martial art

Does this sound familiar? “I went to the BJJ place down the street and got my shoulder ripped apart. I really wanted to practice a martial art but I can’t get hurt like that.” You can substitute any number of competitive or combat arts names, but this is a story I hear often colored in many forms. This makes entering a dojo for Aikido a scary thing for many. I recently had a student come to us with just such a story. After watching a class his only question was “How do I sign up?”

Why is Aikido different?

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In our life

Aikido is rich in metaphors for living a creative, compassionate, engaged life.  As I practice on the mat I am often enlightened as to how I might apply a basic Aikido principle to a challenge I am having off the mat.

Most of us will not be attacked physically but common are mental, emotional, and social conflicts.  These can be just as stressful to face as a physical attack.  Like a physical attack we can lash out, run away, or choose to engage in a calm and centered fashion leading to resolution and growth.

Aikido teaches us to engage without judgment. It shows us how to frolic in the middle of chaos.  Able to move freely about it is easier to find the place where we fit in. The place where we are safe and can begin to work the problem at hand. Whether being attacked with a sword or with words the Aikido student strives to stay calm, move to a safe place to better understand and begin to work with the energy.  Once coming from a safe and centered place we can then begin to develop technique, to work out a solution.

Everything from the first meeting (attack), to the conversation (technique), to parting (pin or throw) can be related to our physical practice of Aikido.  By also including the spiritual and mental aspects of training we begin to build a tool set that will aid us in our daily interaction.

Occasionally when we have new students we will sit and introduce ourselves. As a part of this we tell why we started Aikido and why we still practice.  One student always claimed that he practiced Aikido because it kept him out of jail.  What did he mean? This student found that by training in Aikido he learned a tool set that allowed him to deal with stress and conflict in a constructive fashion. This was in contrast to his previous methods of dealing which often included violent outbursts, both verbal and physical.

There are no secret techniques to deal with this and that attack.  There is constant training in a holistic approach, that leads to gradual growth that permeates all aspects of our lives if we put in the effort.

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