From an very early age, I had always been fascinated with martial arts. Growing up, I had watched many a kung fu/karate movie and imagined myself doing the spectacular feats that I saw the likes of Bruce Lee performing. Unfortunately for my younger self, my mother was less keen on the idea of me learning such things and I was relegated to merely observing through movies and TV shows. Fast forward to my early/mid 30s… I had done several years of yoga practice at that point, but I was starting to lose the ability to find the “mental quiet” that I had previously been able to obtain through the practice and wanted to explore a different method of inner calm coupled with physical activity. I researched a number of different martial arts, but one definitely jumped out to me more than the others… Aikido.
A mini primer… Aikido (Way of Blending Energy, roughly-translated) is a modern Japanese martial art that concentrates primarily on throws and joint locks through the breaking of your opponent’s balance and the redirection of their energy. Developed by Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei) during the late 1920s through the 30s, it is derived primarily from Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, a martial art whose origin stems from the time of the samurai. While widely-known for its open-hand techniques, the movements in Aikido come from the movements of wielding weapons. And as such, practitioners of Aikido (Aikidoka) are also often trained in weapons forms such as sword (katana/bokken), short sword (wakizashi/shoto) and short staff (jo).
Now, a few years into my training, I can’t imagine my life without it. As one of the cornerstones of Aikido is active relaxation, I’ve rediscovered the capacity for quieting my mind (even when someone’s trying to attack me) and being present in the moment with everything coming together as a creation of unity within myself and with others.
If you’ve never seen Aikido before, here’s a quick video clip of me during a cross-disciplinary class that I assisted in teaching at a Karate school.