Aikido means the Way of Unifying the Spirit. It’s a way of finding and focusing your inner strength. It’s a way of creating peace and resolving opposing forces. But what does all of this really mean and how does it happen? These are the answers you find in Aikido.
Here’s what’s coming up for the 2016 Holiday Season and for 2017…
Week following Christmas…
Not to worry – classes this year will all be held at regular times over the holidays!
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Toshikoshi Geiko (New Years Eve Practice)
Saturday, December 31, 2016
At morning class on Saturday December 31, 2016 we’ll have regular training including the annual tradition of swinging the bokken (wood sword) 1000 times! This tradition confirms our strength of commitment and spirit of perseverance in the coming year. Following practice we’ll have a small celebration of food, warm sake (rice wine) and warm cider.
We split up the job of counting between all the students. If there are 20 people then each person takes turns counting aloud 50 cuts as everyone follows. It can be intimidating to think of swinging the bokken 1000 times. At first the bokken feels light in your hands and everybody is cutting with great strength. Somewhere around 300 cuts reality sets in. Your initial excitement may be replaced by a gnawing tightness in your back and shoulders and your hands may start to ache and tire. You may realize that you have to take a different attitude toward the task. Your initial enthusiasm may be tinged with a little discouragement. It is only at this point that you can find your spirit. Rather than cutting only with your muscles you begin to find the strength of your spirit. Your body begins to relax. You become focused only on the present cut, not on the cuts yet to come. You realize that the pain and tension you were feeling were just a symptom of the discord between your mind and your body.
In a broader sense, everyone who steps onto the path of Aikido goes through a similar process. The mind of the beginner is often full of expectations – some good, some bad. Their experience is colored by the tension between the notions in their mind and the struggle of their body. If they listen only to their internal chatter or to the little aches of their body they can become discouraged and this shows up as making excuses and giving up.
The idea of not relying on strength shows up often in Aikido. Sometimes in practice a teacher will resist or stop a student at some point in the student’s technique. The muscular student may take it as a challenge and try to force their way through. They might see it as a chance to compete with the teacher and see if they can win. On the other hand, the intellectual student might become engrossed in analysis and try to think their way out of the problem. This situation, like the 1000 swings of the bokken, brings us face to face with the limitations of our own brains and muscles. Aikido is not about competition nor is it merely an intellectual problem. It’s an opportunity to find your spirit. It’s a way to discover how to unify your spirit and find harmony in the situation. This is what Aikido means – the way of unifying the spirit. In order to express the deeper truth of Aikido you must first discover your own spirit. But in order to discover your spirit you must sometimes experience the limitations of your own mind and body.
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Keiko Hajime (First Practice of the Year)
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
While a few may be suffering from overindulgence over the Holidays the First Practice of the year sets the tone for the coming year it’s time to take that important first step. For new students that have already completed the Foundation Course and are ready to commence with regular training this is the time to begin.
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Beginning Training (Shoshinsha Geiko)
Every journey has a beginning. This is where those with more experience patiently introduce practice to new members to help them gain the skills and confidence to continue their training. To learn how to get started go here.
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Monthly Extended Practice (Getsurei Geiko)
Third Saturday of every month from 9 AM to 12 noon.
Extended practice is on the third Saturday of each month from 9 AM to 12 noon. These extended practices will be an important time to develop a deeper understanding of your practice. The Monthly Extended Practice is required attendance for all students. If for some reason you are unable to attend you are expected to call and let us know in advance.