Classes Suspended due to COVID-19

Greetings Aikidoka,

You may have seen or heard the latest COVID-19 news from the Governor.

Beginning Monday night at midnight, several closures will take effect. These include closing gyms and fitness facilities for the next four weeks (until December 14th).

These latest restrictions require us to suspend Aikido Olympia classes for the next several weeks.

We encourage you to keep up your practice at home during this closure. Stretching,  warm-up exercises,  weapons practice, maybe even rolling (if you can find enough space).  As you go about your daily life practice being present. Relax, keep your center and extend ki. Practice using your 180-degree vision, taking up slack, and of course, keeping good Ma’ai.

The closure does not take effect until midnight tonight.  So we will be able to hold our regular Monday Zen class tonight 630-730pm. This class is open to all dojo members, even beginners. This class focuses on meditation and meditative movement, so it is easy to keep good physical distance.

If you have a weapon at the dojo or would like to check one out, this will be your best opportunity to collect them.


Stay safe and healthy.

Aikido Olympia

Governor Announces COVID-19 Closures November 2020

You may have seen or heard the latest COVID-19 news from the Governor…

Beginning Monday night at midnight, several closures will take effect. These include closing gyms and fitness facilities for the next four weeks (until December 14th). The restrictions include:

1. No indoor social gatherings with people outside one’s household.

2. No outdoor gatherings with more than five people from outside the household.

3. Gyms and fitness facilities will be closed to indoor activity. Outdoor fitness classes can happen, but they’re limited by the outdoor gathering restriction…

These latest restrictions require us to suspend Aikido Olympia classes for the next several weeks. On behalf of the board of directors, we are disappointed in this closure and also recognize it as an opportuntity to deepen our personal practices.

I’ve attached a short video that describes the situation here:

We will be communicating our intentions and providing updates regularly, and appreciate the support and ki’ai you all bring to our dojo.

Be safe and be well,

Nate Weed

Aikido Olympia COVID-19 Update: November 2020

As I’m sure all of you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic continues and as we enter into the fall, we are seeing case counts rising in Thurston County. At Aikido Olympia, we are continuing to follow our stringent symptom screening, social distancing, masking, and personal and environmental hygiene practices to keep everyone safe. 


I know that everyone has a different body and we each need to do what will be most appropriate for us, just as we do in class. That said, we are holding classes regularly and are continuing to learn how we might be able to provide some ‘asynchronous learning opportunities’ through some recorded videos that might support those of you choosing to train at home for the time being.


Additionally, the Aikido Olympia Board of Directors and our dojo community are grateful for the generous support that many have provided and continue to provide through this trying experience. 


If people in Olympia or Thurston county begin spreading COVID-19 between themselves, county health officials may ask that we suspend classes for a period of time and we will communicate this to all of you if that needs to happen. For more information please see the Washington State Department of Health website at https://www.doh.wa.gov.


We are all part of the whole and, individually, we all need to do our part to help keep others safe and healthy. 

By Nate Weed

Aikido In Daily Life: November 2020

We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives.Fear is a fascinating aspect of being human.

We all experience fear from one time to the next, we are all mentally and emotionally wired to react to fear quickly using several deeply ingrained strategies (fight, flight, or freeze), and we are all predisposed to accept fear as ‘real.’ However, fear is not tangible, it is not quantifiable, it is mostly a thought. Fear is also deeply connected to our egos, designed to protect us from discomfort and suffering. Training in Aikido helps us relate to fear in healthier and more productive ways. Our training also helps us better know our egos and gives us the skills to continually file our egos back down. 


When we experience fear, it is an emotional experience. It is also an opportunity to make some choices about how we want to present in that situation. Through our Aikido training, we learn to more quickly find our centers, relax, and extend our energy into the situation. The alternative is to this approach is to think about it and consider what could happen and begin to take measures to protect ourselves from the threat by holding our breaths, tensing our bodies, and contracting our energy toward ourselves. Although seductive, this approach closes us to the experience, lowers our responsiveness, and limits our creativity.

Through the thousands of punches and grabs directed at our bodies, through the thousands of falls and rolls that we take to avoid injury at the last second of an attack, and through the practice of following the energy of a threat, we become more capable of accepting fear and working with it more effectively. These are physical threats that we practice with in the dojo and as our practice is to unify our mind, body, and sprit, we should also take time to reflect on how the Aikido response to fear can be applied to threats that aren’t physical. Because regardless of the source of fear much of the response needs to address our fundamental human conditioning to ‘protect ourselves’ rather than blend with the energy of the experience. 

By Nate Weed

Aikido Olympia Schedule: November 2020

  • Monday 6:30 – 7:30 – Zazen – Erica
  • Tuesday and Thursday 5:30 – 6:20 – Kids’ class – Erica and Amy
  • Tuesday and Thursday 6:30 – 7:20 – Beginner’s class – Brandon
  • Tuesday 7:30 – 8:20 – Focus on ukemi and movement – Marcel
  • Thursday 7:30 – 8:20 – Jyo Kata training – Erica
  • Saturday 8:00 – 9:30 – Meditation and weapons – Nate 

Veteran’s Day 2020

Veteran’s Day – November 11, 2020

In the Japanese martial tradition that evolved into Aikido, the Samurai hold a distinct relevance. The Samurai or Bushi were the ruling class of warriors in ancient Japan. Arguably, the Bushi were the most disciplined, well trained, and well-equipped warriors in history. However, the word Bushi means ‘to serve.’ Service in the same way that all veterans have served and how our country’s own veterans have served. This service should never go unforgotten and on Veteran’s Day we have the opportunity to remind ourselves to never forget. As one now famous U.S. Navy veteran once said so well: 


“When you say ‘Never forget’ to a veteran, you are implying that, as an American, you are in it with them… connected together as grateful fellow Americans who will never forget the sacrifices made by veterans past and present.”


In our martial arts tradition we work to erode the idea of us and them. We learn that we are not separate from each other and that through our commitment to each other we become better people. So, take it from 3,000 years of martial arts tradition or take it from a modern warrior whose credentials cannot be dismissed… Never forget!


To never forget is recognizing that 3,000 innocent lives were wrongfully taken in the attacks of 9/11/2001. To never forget is taking a moment to reflect on the fact that over 1.3 million service members have lost their lives and more than 1.5 million have been wounded since the inception of our country. To never forget is acknowledging that while time marches on, memorials erected, and people move on with their lives, thousands of families, first responders, and service members continue to experience long-term medical and psychological effects that result from their experiences or the experiences of those they care about, in service to others.  To never forget is to remember what brings us together as a country and to see the good in each other. To never forget is recognizing that it’s our responsibility, as martial artists in this tradition, to dedicate ourselves to serving others. And, to never forget is remembering that we are all in this together. 


In our dojo, we have people who grew up in military homes, we have people who have served our communities as teachers, we have people who have served as first responders, we have people who have served by helping others in many ways, and we have people who have served in the military through many conflicts around the world. Our practice, like the Bushi before us, is to serve and, in service, we experience being in this together.

By Nate Weed

Aikido Olympia COVID-19 Update: October 2020

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

Aikido In Daily Life: October 2020

We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of Aikido in our daily lives.

The nation and our Governor have talked about the importance of ‘social distancing’ so we can slow the spread of this coronavirus. I’ve noticed in my walks around the neigh- borhood that many people are applying this principle to not just physical spacing, but also mental spacing. People will avert their eyes, and not greet you even if you are across the street. Perhaps ‘social distancing’ can be reworked to be ‘physical distanc- ing, what we Aikido-ka (practitioners of Aikido) call Maai (間合) – the proper spacing with our partners, with others in the class, and with the dojo space itself.

Maai consists of two characters – Ma and Ai.

Ma (間). This Japanese kanji 間 graphically combines 門 “door” and 日 “sun.” It is a Ja- panese word which can be roughly translated as “gap,” “space,” or “pause.” In Ja- panese, ma, the word for space, suggests both physical space and time/space. It is best described as an “awareness of place,” the simultaneous awareness of form and non-form deriving from an intensification of vision” (the 180 degree vision discussed of- ten in our classes.)

合Ai – Isn’t it interesting that the word Maai includes ‘Ai,’ as in Ai-ki-do? We say that Ai represents integration, a meeting, to align with others, harmony. What a great idea for

our spatial distancing, with love and harmony for others. This is the true meaning of our practice.

How can you apply your Aikido training to this concept of ‘distancing,’ Maai? First, be centered and extend your positive energy – our Ki. Walk from your center majestically, as Maruyama Sensei has said in the second verse of his motto. And most importantly, SMILE! Make eye contact with others. They will feel your energy and positivity and will feel better, even if they don’t know what is happening. This is one way to apply your practice in daily life!

By Jim West

Aikido Reopened to Full Schedule

Aikidoka, 
 
We are pleased to announce that Aikido Olympia dojo will resume a nearly full schedule of classes. This positive news needs to be viewed with 180 degree or Big Vision.  See the end of this message for our schedule.  

Background 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact individuals, families and communities across Washington State and the nation. This week alone, our state had some of the highest numbers of cases reported since the peak of the outbreak. Fortunately for us, Thurston County has seen less disease transmission than many other counties and has moved into Phase 3 of the Governor’s Safe Start process.  

This phase allows martial arts training facilities, like our Aikido Olympia dojo to operate at 50% capacity as long as we are successfully practicing the required health protocols. Therefore, Aikido Olympia is returning to a more standard Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule to support the training rhythm for everyone interested in attending classes.  

Schedule Implementation with Your Safety in Mind 

At full capacity, our dojo can have about 24-30 people practicing safely. With COVID-19 appropriate ma’ai and following the state and county requirements to operate at 50% capacity, the dojo accommodates approximately 12-14 people (think two rows of 6-7 people each). At this point, we do not anticipate that all of you will return to class in phase 3. Therefore, we will not use a reservation system. For now, classes will be on a first come first serve basis. Just show up a little early to ensure yourself a spot on the mat and be aware there is the possibility that a class may be full. 

 If this method does not work (i.e. we are regularly turning away students because we are full) we will figure something else out. 

What will classes look like? 

In addition to optimizing dojo ma’ai and mind, body, spirit coordination through our Aikido kata, instructors will focus on awareness and Aikido movement using jo and bokken. This is a great opportunity to build fundamentals in these arts and work to better understand the foundations of Aikido, which grew out of Japanese sword, staff (jo), and spear arts.

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 legendary was that he would hold his bokken while standing in hanmi and breathe for 20 minutes. 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). 

Will we touch each other? 

Although Covid-19 is not transmitted through sweat (per the CDC), we will not touch each other at this point. We will use jo and bokken and develop our Aikido movements individually through ‘shadow’ practice. Usually jo and bokken are taught as ‘advanced techniques.’ Since O Sensei, the developer of Aikido, trained in sword, jo, and staff arts prior to Aikido, we are in essence ‘going back to the roots’ of Aikido and Budo training at this point. When appropriate we will re-integrate physical contact arts. 

Aikido Olympia, COVID-19 Health Safety Protocols 

Student responsibilities 

·         Only enter the dojo if you are healthy, and have been for the last 48 hours 

·         Everyone entering the dojo must wear a mask.  

·         Everyone entering the dojo will have their temperature taken with a no touch thermometer. 

·         Everyone entering the dojo will sanitize their hands upon entry, and throughout class as necessary. 

·         Everyone in the dojo will keep appropriate physical distance. 

Instructor responsibilities 

·         Instructors will follow all the above 

·         Ensure students are following health precautions 

·         Disinfect mats and high touch surfaces. 

Aikido Olympia, COVID-19 Health Safety Protocols 

Tuesday and Thursday:      

·        Kids class: 5:30-6:20pm

·        Adult Beginners: 6:30-7:20pm

·        Adult General: 7:30-8:20pm. 

Saturday:    

·        Adult General: 8:00-9:20am 

Covid 19 Phase 2 Health Protection Protocols

Masks

  • All people entering the dojo must wear a cloth mask that covers your nose and mouth as per Thurston county health regulations.

Monitoring Health

  • We ask you to monitor your health at home and not come to the dojo if you have a temperature or feel ill.
  • When entering the dojo, all participants will have their temperature taken (we have a no-touch thermometer).
  • With this new challenge we ask everyone to attend to their own health and consider how they care for others.

Maintaining Health at the Dojo and for Our Practice

  • We ask everyone to use hand sanitizer upon arrival at the dojo and periodically during classes as needed. 
  • Classes will be no touch. Six-foot spacing (two mat squares) between participants will be maintained during classes. Aikido exercises and kata, Jo, bokken, ‘shadow’ techniques, slow individual Aikido movements, and Taiji will be shared.
  • Dressing rooms will be closed. Please come dressed to do Aikido.
  • Please bring your own water bottle. The water dispenser will be closed.
  • We will attempt to hold classes outdoors as much as possible depending on the weather. Classes held outside will meet at the dojo and walk to the park at Capitol Lake.

Dojo Cleaning

  • We are cleaning the dojo after each class with anti-viral solutions. Doors will be open as much as possible to provide fresh air.