It has been a little while since we’ve provided a general update on Aikido Olympia. In short, we’re doing great. Amy and Sierra are beginning to teach our kids class, which is growing and adding great energy to the Dojo. We have a few new adult students and a solid group of people training regularly. This is certainly helping us maintain a strong training atmosphere and support the development of our fellow students. The teenager class is starting to grow and appears to give this group both the physicality and greater focus they seem to appreciate. Finally, Will has re-energized Monday evening Zazen training, and that is beginning to strike a good rhythm.
Beyond our training, the organization is also going strong. Our volunteer instructors (which is all of us) are enjoying the opportunities to share Aikido with others and see you all develop. Financially, our current dues are meeting our few obligations. And, our mats and training space are well maintained.
All of us at Aikido Olympia are very happy to announce that Jim West Sensei will be visiting us this week. Please see below for a schedule of this week’s classes and events. We are planning a potluck at Priest Point Park on Saturday. All classes will be held at the dojo. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 5:30 – 6:00 AM Kata and breathing (online only)
Tuesday and Thursday 6:30 – 7:20 PM Basic Aikido
Tuesday 7:30 – 8:20 PM Focus on ukemi and movement
Thursday 7:30 – 8:20 PM Jyo kata training
Saturday 8:00 – 9:00 AM Meditation and weapons
Starting April 4th Saturday 9:30 – 10:30 AM Teen class
Starting April 2021 –
Beginning April 1, 2021, Aikido Olympia will begin offering a class for people comfortable throwing each other again. The plan is to start with one class per week where we’ll return to techniques that have limited and brief contact (primarily some of the throws from movement) and work from there. Aikido Olympia continues to encourage everyone to make good decisions for themselves, their families and the community. And, Aikido Olympia will continue to follow stringent symptom screening, social distancing, masking, and personal and environmental hygiene practices to keep everyone safe.
Also starting Aril 3rd we will add a new class on Saturdays from 9:30 – 10:30 AM that will focus more on the training needs of our teenage group. This new class is tailored to 12-18 year old Aikidoka.
We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives.
Training in the dojo is an interesting part of any martial art considered a “way” or “do”. The teaching and practice that occurs is often couched in metaphors. And, there’s rarely a clear road-map for students to follow. For most martial artists, it takes decades of studying the techniques, katas, and exercises before they begin to appreciate the fundamental lessons hidden within them. It is for this same reason that martial artist from previous ages would frame learning as “stealing the secrets”.
There’s a famous (likely apocryphal) story of Gichin Funikoshi, the founder of Karate-Do. It goes like this… Funikoshi Sensei, advanced in years, held a seminar for his most senior students from around the world. After the seminar they all went to dinner together and the students were having fun seeing each other and catching up. Then one of the students noticed their teacher sitting quietly moving his arm in the shape of a basic block taught to all beginning students. That student asked: “Sensei, what are your doing? And Funikoshi Sensei responded “I just figured out the lesson in this movement!”…
There are no easy paths to learning how to live in harmony with the energies of the universe. It’s simply a matter of committed and disciplined repetition. However, there is one thing that’s part of committed and disciplined practice that every student can do to make this onerous pursuit more rewarding and seem less daunting. Setting clear training goals and reflecting on them at regular intervals. For any Aikidoka at any level of practice, creating a clear idea of what they want to accomplish and then proceeding to accomplish it will keep the practice and the commitment fresh. At some points the goals may be learning a particular technique, at other points the goal may be finding deeper meaning within a technique, and there are countless points in between. As you’re pondering your training goals, never hesitate to reach out to your instructors for ideas and advice.
The COVID pandemic has created many challenges for the broader Aikido community to continue training in the way we wish we could. The same pandemic creating challenges has also pushed many of us to adapt and grow our practices in some wonderful ways. Aikido Olympia has been so lucky as many of you have continued to contribute to dojo our space and our basic expenses. One of the practices inherent in Aikido is “intoku” – good done in secret, or doing good without drawing any attention to the action.
On behalf of the whole Aikido Olympia Board of Directors, I want to communicate our sincere gratitude. Gratitude not just for the financial support but for how you have continued training in the aspects of Aikido that are more important than learning how to throw someone! And we deeply appreciate the financial contributions that ensure we all have a dojo in which to continue our practice (including throwing people) as this global pandemic begins to wane.
COVID-19 rates are starting to decrease to levels we experienced last summer (generally pretty good) and many people are getting vaccinated (more than 2.5 million vaccines have been provided in Washington). These welcome changes are allowing more movement, more gathering, and more training than we’ve seen in over a year.
On March 22nd, our state will move to phase 3 of the Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery. This invites gyms and fitness centers (which includes martial arts) to hold classes with 50% occupancy. Masking and social distancing will still be required but this will allow us to be flexible with our class sizes. Additionally, the the state released a new COVID-19 guidance document that applies to “contact martial arts”. This guidance allows indoor “team practices” for high risk sports (which includes martial arts)… https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/COVID19%20Sporting%20Activities%20Guidance.pdf , and for additional information please see the Washington State Department of Health website at https://www.doh.wa.gov.
Beginning April 1, 2021, Aikido Olympia will begin offering a class for people comfortable throwing each other again. The plan is to start with one class per week where we’ll return to techniques that have limited and brief contact and work from there. Aikido Olympia continues to encourage everyone to make good decisions for themselves, their families and the community. And, Aikido Olympia will continue to follow stringent symptom screening, social distancing, masking, and personal and environmental hygiene practices to keep everyone safe. In addition, our Aikido Olympia instructors want to emphasize our expectations that people not attend classes if they feel ill or even a “little off”.
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.
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.
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.
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.