Currently, Thurston County is experiencing less disease transmission than many other coun- ties in our state and is in Phase 3 of the Governor’s Safe Start process. In this phase, Aikido Olympia can operate at 50% capacity as long as we are following the health and cleaning protocols we established earlier this year.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, Aikido Olympia has adjusted our training approach to meet the Governor’s “Safe Start Guidelines” and we continue to hold regular classes. Since July, we have resumed an almost full schedule with classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as Saturday mornings. We have required everyone training to self-assess for any symptoms, monitor their temperatures, wear masks whenever they are at the dojo, and pay close attention to hand hygiene. In many ways, this additional effort is training in Aikido – how do we best maintain harmony with our community during a pandemic?
We have also spent more time focusing on the katas, ukemi, bokken, jyo, and seated medi- tation. This shift in focus is having a positive impact on both the ki’ai of the dojo and the fun- damental skills that we practice in all of the arts of Aikido.
Many of us have heard the story of Hirata Sensei’s first year of teaching in the United States where he did not have any students to train with. To keep his Aikido strong and to continue developing his ki’ai, he trained with the bokken. One practice that has become rather leg- endary was that he would hold his bokken, while standing in hanmi, and breathe for 20 min- utes. When he returned to Japan, his cohort of training partners were expecting his Aikido to have suffered but they all found that his ki’ai was stronger and his Aikido was better. Training in this COVID- 19 world is challenging but we have his example to follow (and we do have people to train with).
From our experience so far, this seems to work well for everyone who is training regularly, and when it’s appropriate to re-integrate the physical contact into our training these funda- mentals will shine through our techniques.
By Nate Weed