5th Kyu Essays
Although I have only been practising Aikido for ten months it has had a positive influence on me physically, psychologically and spiritually, but most importantly I really enjoy it and have made many new friends.
I do struggle at times and get frustrated that I get techniques wrong and that my posture is bad but I know my journey has only just begun and in time with more practice I hope to improve and hopefully will be able to help other as they begin their journey.
My trip to Japan in June to Nakao Sensei and Akiko San dojo in Kobe are memories I will never forget! I loved the country and the Keiko and everyone knows I loved the food and the Plum Sake lol.
I had some very dark years before I started Aikido but I know that Aikido has helped me focus my mind, improve my discipline and just “live in the moment”. It has taken a long time to find this fantastic Aikido class with its smiley, humble, patient teachers and students.
I know I will get things wrong and that I will get frustrated at times but I also know that if I just keep turning up and practising I will in improve and keep enjoying it.
I would like to thank Nakao Sensei and Akiko San for travelling twenty-three hours to teach and grade us, thank you Bryan, Akiko and Peter for all your help and wisdom and thank you all students for training with me over the last ten months.
I’ve been training in various martial arts since I was a teenager but as I get older I find I’m more keen to focus on the aspects of sensitivity, taking of balance and timing rather than aggression, strength and fitness. Many years ago I was lucky enough to find a style and club that suited the way I wanted to train and I still enjoy improving myself in that style. However, more recently I have begun to worry that there are a number of situations where it is simply not appropriate to cause injury to an aggressor and my current style did not really have a way to deal with that.
I looked around for a second martial art to supplement the first and came across Aikido. I count myself very lucky to have found Brian at Seibukan Milton Keynes as the club is filled with thoroughly nice people and the approach to Aikido matches exactly what I was hoping to find. Having only just started, it will take me many more years just to build a basic level of competence on my Aikido journey but I can already see areas where it complements my other style very well.
I have found my first year of Aikido training very frustrating at times when I have struggled to understand the basic principles of some of the techniques. Preparing more recently for this first grading has been an enormous help as I have started to realise how the seemingly different techniques all have the same common roots. At the same time, I find myself fascinated by the many different ways to approach any given technique, depending on the situation and body placement. I can see how I could be twenty years down the road and still be seeing something new in the way a fellow student approaches their practice.
Lastly, I am grateful that I get to look forward to training each Monday. Having been a part of many clubs over the years, I know how important it is that you not only want to practice the art but that you also want to spend time with the people. We really do have something quite special here and I’m very glad to be a part of it.
4th Kyu Essay
Alex Langdon Jones
Aikido gives me a sense of belonging and to be a part of such a diverse community is rewarding. Being one of the youngest and smallest means others have to alter the techniques in order to train with me, this means other members are putting effort in and I really appreciate this. I am certainly not the wisest or experienced in Aikido but I feel, after doing it for five years, I am starting to really understanding the art and am starting to develop my own style.
This is a stress reliever for me, either if I’m having a bad day or am particularly stiff it takes my mind off of any issues or problems I may be facing. This is important to me, as a junior, because it focuses me and helps me look at the bigger picture.
Not only does it make me feel at home with peers and adults it also has taught me confidence and awareness that I didn’t have prior. I now perceive situations differently and react (physically) differently- even if it is in a small way it counts. Aikido and the movement I have learnt from t has become second nature to me; in the way I hold my posture or the route to which I move around my kitchen at home. It has changed the way I interact with people in my life because of spatial awareness and my interpretation of others actions.
2nd Kyu Essays
I started practicing aikido when I was about seven years old. I have started to practice because my mother and my stepfather thought it was a good idea for me to practice a martial art. At that time, I thought aikido was simply for me to learn to protect myself, but after two or three years of me being practicing I started to see aikido in an also different way. This is the fact that I realized aikido made me feel much more relaxed. It also helped throughout all these years to develop strategies to concentrate, which before was not possible. I really enjoy the whole process of attending to the lessons and the seminars and learning new techniques and different ways of executing them.
Relax, just do it…
It seemed that over the last 12 months one of the most consistent instructions I kept hearing was to “relax”. Whether practising Aikido, learning to snowboard or me teaching people to dance, it seems that a recurrent theme was nothing works if you’re not relaxed.
To be honest, I’d never really thought about it before, but since I started to think about, I noticed just how important it is in many ways.
When learning to snowboard, relaxing is really important, as is your posture (just like aikido). Though when you first step onto a board that wants to fly down the slope at top speed and you can’t control it, relaxing is the last thing on your mind! Perversely though, the more relaxed you are, the more control you have, you can soften your knees to control small impacts and avoid falling and you can direct the board more easily. Understanding this is one thing, getting your body to it is another and can take quite some time.
In partner dance, as with Aikido, you must work with your partner (uke/ tori) to make the moves (waza) work. When I’m dancing, it’s the most natural thing to me, so I am able to work together with my partner to move fluidly and without tension to make the dance flow. However, when I teach beginners, I can see that they don’t understand this yet and spend a lot of time furiously gripping their partner’s hand and making it difficult to lead and follow moves.
Which brings me to Aikido. It took me a while to recognise that I wasn’t as relaxed as I thought during keiko, maybe coming from another martial art where was a heavier emphasis on striking and doing the waza to someone, rather than working together influenced this. I have also found that being told to relax has the opposite effect on me, it usually makes me more tense as I am concentrating on being relaxed!
Over the last few months and especially since training again in Kobe, I have really tried to be more mindful in my aikido and keep a more relaxed attitude when training and in life in general. I’ve also tried not to drink coffee right before training if I can, as that can leave me feeling tense! (Grading not included…I needed that coffee!)
Since I have started thinking this way, I have found Aikido even more enjoyable, I hope that I can continue training this way for many years and that we can share this way of practising with many people.
1st Kyu Essays
Relax and breathe Another grading been and gone. Another year of practice. More time spent seeing and trying to understand subtle differences in techniques that on the surface appear to be the same. Some frustrating moments when nothing seems to work and some joyous when all becomes effortless. It is said in the Dojo, it is said at my work, it is said in many aspects of most people's lives - Relax! Usually causing the opposite effect. But it's truth is simple. If you learn to relax and accept what you can and cannot do/learn/be, everything becomes simpler. Having just taken another step towards quite a large milestone (Shodan) and witnessed other Aikidoka testing for theirs, as much as I look forward to the day when I can face the same test, my thoughts lie simply with this - more practice. In the Dojo thoughts of the outside world drift away, and with them the tensions they hold. Yet another reason why more people should seek Aikido. I look forward to the continuing journey.
My main problem as a person in general is my laziness and lack of motivation for a lot of things, whether it be for golf, school work or aikido. For the past year, I have lost my motivation for aikido and started to practice less and less, putting it off because I didn't want to go. However, when Nakao Sensei and Akiko san come over from Japan every year, they manage spark my interest into aikido again. I don't know what it is but the training always puts a smile on my face and I enjoy it. After the visit this year, I have changed my thinking on aikido. This is my 8th year doing aikido and have just received 1st kyu. For the longest of times, I have felt like walking away from something that has been a large part of my life and probably still will be as time goes on. I thought to myself ‘if I leave now, what have those 8 years of training been for?’. It would feel wrong for me to leave before I really start to understand what aikido is about. Therefore, I have decided to work towards achieving shodan before deciding where aikido lies in my life. There is no doubt in my mind that the people that have joined Seibukan over the years are one big family now and I will always hope to be a part of it. I would like to thank my dad Bryan and my mum Akiko because they are the ones that have kept me going at it, which has benefitted me a lot. I would also like to say a big thank you Nakao Sensei and Akiko san again as to me, they are fantastic role models for others around them and they always support everyone they can.
Meditations on Aikido.
As far as I can think back in time Martial arts always fascinated me. My journey started with one of my greatest influence: Bruce Lee. After seeing his amazing skills, I knew that one way or another I must know more about martial arts. Physically I was a weak child often victim of bullying. While my father seemed to be the strongest man alive in the world. He used to do Jiu-Jitsu and as a police officer he was a living legend. I remember when I visited his work I used to hear unbelievable stories about him from his colleagues. I was really proud of him, but at the same time I felt even weaker every time. When I was about eight I started to learn Kung Fu, however it didn’t last very long when I failed my grading on a boot camp. For a long time, I considered it my greatest let-down and felt I was a disappointment to father. Following this in my teen age I ended up getting in trouble more and more often. I got into a friend circle where we practiced Thai box in a garage. I wasn’t particularly great at it either, however I started to understand: no matter what martial art one learns the goal is not the fancy demonstration, but survival. After my graduation at high school we went out clubbing almost every week. Although we always tried to avoid trouble, somehow it seemed trouble followed us many times. As time passed we started to get better to defend ourselves and usually got ourselves out of trouble without any big issues. However, one day I was in the way of a judo competitor at our local nightclub. This was my first experience against grappling in a one on one combat and I lost miserably. It made me realise how much I was not prepared for someone changing the game and taking the fight to the ground. Suddenly the success of my father’s Jitsu style made a lot of sense and I started to look around for a martial art similar to his. At the time in Debrecen there was not many options and I had a choice of a Judo class, Jiu-Jitsu or Aikido. At this time our special forces of police learnt Aikido from a local dojo’s sensei. This made me interested and I signed up for a membership. We all heard about Steven Seagal and most of the time we only considered his art something special but only on movies. When I had my first class I learnt, what we saw in those movies are actually called Aikido and the techniques are just as powerful as they look. The sensei there taught in a traditional way. No explanation, pure demonstration and we had to figure out what was going on. I got myself a much younger and lighter boy. I was still arrogant and said I will look after him to avoid hurting him. It turned out it wasn’t me to look after him but him to make sure I don’t break my neck. I was very impressed how powerful he was regardless of the weight difference of at least 30 kilos! I was always looking for a martial art where as a means of self-defence one is able to de-escalate situations instead of escalating it. I finally felt I am home, I found the martial art I was looking for.
Later my journey took me to different places many relocations memberships in several dojos until I reached a point where grading for black belt was inevitable. I have learnt from amazing sensei’s and met so many amazing people I didn’t realise how much time has gone since my first Aikido experience. Along the years I realised martial art is just like learning a language. Most Aikido practitioners speak the same language but in a different accent which makes this amazing martial art very colourful. For a while it confused me and I thought about this as a problem to solve, but later I understood this is the beauty of martial arts and the essence of a martial artist is not the precise execution of techniques but adaptation.
Many asked me what it feels like to be a black belt since my grading. For me; it feels exactly like being a white belt. I have a lot more to learn and improve. After all these years of learning I finally understand that black belt was never a target to achieve, but a door to open which leads to a new journey to learn, develop and motivate others to never give up.
Aikido Martial arts.
Another year has passed and I have managed to grade again this is always something I look forwards to any time I have the opportunity.
Unlike most of the times I have graded, this year has been problematic for me due to timing and other influencing factors generally to do with business & life.
It is ironic that Aikido allows me to forget the world during training but also Aikido reminds me that I have to cope with everything all at the same time regardless.
This year I think of Aikido and what I am trying to learn only to find to many options to analyse so I just train and see what happens rather than trying to understand the essence of an art that takes 20 or 30 years plus to emulate. I have to enjoy something to commit my time to it and I also have my age and life to balance during my days so training for me is always a victory every time I finish a session.
Aikido has always drawn me because of the response control, I was first shown Aikido by a late friend who worked in security, they always said it was the best art for dealing with an aggressor quickly, I know now what the sentiment was however there is so much more to learn bearing in mind I do not study any other form of combat or Martial arts nor have I studded Aikido anywhere else than Seibukan.
Techniques aside I struggle to understand why some people hurt others, keeping control of an ego is as important as keeping control of your Aikido.
Aikido allows me to feel & measure the response to an attack; some people miss this important point I think.
I will probably never understand why some people hurt others outside a real combat situation, apologises to any one I might have injured by mistake during training.
For me Aikido is fun and provides me with a good interesting way to help me stay fit, Aikido sometimes can be far from a real fight scenario, its sometimes easy to forget that Aikido is also a devastating martial art.
I look forwards to training again very soon and would like to thank Seibukan Aikido UK and Nakao Sensei for teaching Aikido & for coming to the UK again to teach us.
It’s the highlight of the year for me and is something that I always look forwards to.
I hope I will be training for many years to come.
One look on the most popular video media of today and you are faced with the unending number of posts questioning whether or not aikido will work in the real world. Numerous video demonstrations follow, but they are – demonstrations, some staged, some genuine, but demonstrations all the same.
So does it work, will it work.
It is after all a Martial Art and, with that, the teaching of an ability to defend oneself from attack, to unbalance, to disarm an assailant and then hopefully escape unharmed in a real life situation. So why therefore do we still have shomenuchi, yokomenuchi, morotodori, attacks that were developed at the beginning of the art that were relevant to the day when attack by sword might have occurred. It is unlikely (and I speak from experience) in this day and age that one would encounter that sort of attack in a real life scenario. So are they still relevant today?
Should we therefore be more oriented towards a more realistic attack, jodan tsuki and tanto dori for example or head butt charge, swinging punch.
Should the teaching of disarming be disablement? After all, most assailants don’t stop after one attack.
One could say it depends on what the individual perceives as “working”. Why do people do aikido? What do they want from it, what can it give them?
To some it gives a confidence to defend themselves, To others the real ability to develop as an individual, to focus. Others exercise and camaraderie.
One can also ask… what can they give back to aikido?
I have my own opinions on All of the above questions, it is for others to answer theirs.