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

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.  


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. 


·        Adult General: 8:00-9:20am 

Covid 19 Phase 2 Health Protection Protocols


  • 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.

Aikido Olympia Dojo reopening!

Hello Aikidoka,

We have missed you all very much and are excited to begin offering classes again. During stage 2 reopening, class size is limited to 5 students. These classes are only available to current members (no new students at this time).

We are using Eventbrite to manage registration for these classes. We have sent info on how to register for these classes to our member email list.  If you are a current member and have not been receiving email up dates from us, contact us through or the Contact Us page and we will send you a link to register.

We look forward to being with you, training with you, and supporting you in your Aikido practice through this next phase.

Aikido in Daily Life: November 2019

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

A way of thinking about and growing awareness… 

Anyone who’s practiced regularly at Aikido Olympia has heard that one of the key benefits to our practice is expanding our awareness. For many of us, this comes as we become more relaxed, become more present in our activities, and as we apply our 180 degree vision more often in our daily lives. Some of us find our awareness stretching as we become more empathetic and in tune with other people. And, a few feel their awareness expand as they simply sit and calm their minds. 

All of these strategies help us grow, as we proceed along the path of being in harmony with the energy of the universe, and it’s not necessary to add anything extra. That said, an occasional question to ourselves can sometimes help us get back on track when we’ve been drawn into one of the many situations that constrict our awareness. One such question is “have I considered both the yin and yang of this thing/thought/event?” 

All energies are continuously flowing and we know that the wave forms for these energies have two modes, a yin and a yang. It’s not really necessary to know that yin is the dark, cool, female, absorbing aspect while yang is the bright, warm, male, projecting aspect. What’s more important is to know that the two aspects create wholeness together. Therefore, when our mind and our flow get stuck, asking ourselves if we’ve considered both the yin and the yang aspects of the situation can help us re-engage our awareness. And, the more we learn to re-engage our awareness when we’re stuck, the more that awareness can grow.

By Nate Weed

Aikido Olympia Fees and Finances (Updated)

Last month I wrote that Aikido Olympia will be dividing the annual maintenance fee into a January installment and a July installment. The Board of Directors has had further discussions about this approach and we’ve decided that this is perhaps a bit too complicated to implement easily. So, we’re going back to the previous approach of asking everyone to pay the initial maintenance fee when they join our dojo and every January thereafter ($60 adults and $40 youth & students). 

The board also recognizes that some people who join later in the year (October-December) may feel that they receive little value in this and we want to provide them with a standard lightweight gi when they join to offset the months of the year when they weren’t yet members.

By Nate Weed

Yagyu Munenori – Life-Giving Sword

Recently, West Sensei has mentioned Yagyu Munenori. Some of you are familiar with this 17th century Japanese sword master, but others of you may not be so. For a little background, Yagyu Munenori lived from 1571 to 1646 and served as the sword master and a key leader in the Tokagawa Shogunate (essentially serving as the director of intelligence). Yagyu Munenori was a contemporary of the famed Miyamoto Musashi (though there’s no evidence the two of them ever met). He was also the author of a key book on swordsmanship called the Heiho Kadensho which is one of the most influential martial arts books ever written. 

The question is: how does he relate to our practice of Aikido? There are a number of answers to that question. First, this particular sword art, Yagyu Shinkage-Ryu was one that set the stage for fusing Zen practice with martial arts. Second, perhaps more mechanically, is the subtle use of distance and movement – like moon-shadow steps. The third, is that Munenori established the idea of a “killing sword” and a “life-giving sword.” Using the life-giving sword, a martial artist does not lose but also does not strive to win. 

Yagyu Munenori was a fascinating character in both the history of Japan but also the history of martial arts. One of the strongest principles Yagyu Munenori instilled in his students was the idea that swordsmanship was not a skill learned to kill but rather to fully realize one’s true self. This lineage connects to Aikido directly in that both Morihei Ueshiba (O’ Sensei) studied Yagyu Shinkage-Ryu, as did Muryama Sensei. 

By Nate Weed

Aikido in Daily Life: October 2019

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

Giving and receiving feedback in a way that promotes learning and growth is an art. Regardless of what part of our lives we consider – Aikido practice, professional, parenting, personal relationships, or other endeavors – the most important thing for helping us improve is feedback from those around us. At the same time, it’s the rare individual who can gracefully and curiously receive feedback and incorporate it into their lives. Moreover, our Aikido practice provides an amazing laboratory for developing this skill. 

Feedback is simply a signal that lets us know if we are meeting our desired goals. With that, feedback seems so innocuous and helpful. So why is taking it a skill that we have to learn in order to do well? For Aikido practitioners, the same question is why do do we invest in learning ukemi and doing it well? Taking ukemi and receiving feedback from others are the same thing. And, the same things that limit us in improving our ukemi also create challenges for receiving feedback effectively. One way to look at this is that both of these are the art of “taking it” and the more gracefully we can do that, the more comfort we have in experiencing life. 

When we’re able to take a step back and look at the limitations we have to overcome to improve our ability to “take it,” there are some common themes. First, many people experience fear. This is reasonable because the unknown often creates anxiety, doubt, and other emotions. Second, our perception of our own efficacy can shape how we approach these learning opportunities. Finally, if these factors don’t emerge, then our egos may intervene to provide some protection from the physical or mental trauma that might result. And, if we can take one more step back these limitations all have something in common – they’re in our mind. All of these things are features of future possibilities and not current realities. 

Our practice is about learning to stay present,  stay grounded, and stay open and curious about the people and energies with which we engage. Even more pertinent to this discussion is that half our practice is about entering into something that we know for sure will be uncomfortable with commitment, focus, and generosity. More than once, Aikido Olympia instructors have emphasized that we often learn more by taking ukemi than we do by throwing people. In the case of receiving feedback from others with centered grace and confidence the dojo is the perfect laboratory to develop this ability further. 

By Nate Weed

Aikido Olympia Fees and Finances

Aikido Olympia is a 100% volunteer, non-profit organization and our board of directors works diligently to minimize the financial impact our dues have on our members. And, we must pay our rent, our insurance, some modest utilities, and ongoing maintenance throughout the year. Monthly dues generally cover our expenses, but for insurance, maintenance, and other expenses, we rely on our annual Dojo Maintenance Fee (currently $60 for adults and $40 for youth and students). Generally, we all pay these fees when we initially join the dojo and then each January thereafter. One overlooked area of dojo maintenance is our uniforms. As we all learn, gis don’t last forever and they are part of our dojo’s overall maintenance. Therefore, Aikido Olympia will be dividing the annual maintenance fee into a January installment and a July installment  (each installment will be $30 for adults and $20 for youth and students) and Aikido Olympia will use some of these fees to pay the cost of basic gis for those who need one in the fall (October – December).

By Nate Weed