2018 Aikido Olympia Class Schedule Changes

Coming in 2018, we are implementing some changes to our weekly class schedule:

Some of you may recall filling out a survey where you were asked about your preferences for class times. The dojo leadership used that information to create a new schedule for 2018 that should benefit both students and the instructors.

Changed: Youth classes to Tuesday/Thursday beginning at 5:30 instead of 5:00
Added: Adult general class on Tuesday/Thursday following youth class. Class begins at 6:30.
Removed: Classes at 5:30 AM on Tuesday/Thursday and no regularly scheduled classes on Friday.

We will begin this new schedule on January 3rd, 2018.

Respectfully,

Nate

Aikido in Daily Life: December 2017

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

In the practice of most martial disciplines, practitioners work to develop the ability to absorb information from our environment more effectively. In our Aikido training we frequently talk about using “Martial Vision” or 360 degree vision. This takes a lot of work to develop but ultimately this skill begins to grow. Usually, this process starts with actual vision – the seeing with your eyes part. As this skill grows, other senses start to become included, we begin to hear, smell, feel, and maybe eventually even taste more of our environment. This provides more opportunities to appreciate our natural world, our friends, our families, and the other things that mean a great deal to us.

As we enter a season of holidays focused on family, friends, food, light, and peace, it’s a great time to turn our martial vision toward these things and be present with them. Take some time to care for ourselves and be the people we want to be all year long.

Shugyo

Shugyo is a term used to describe activities, usually arduous, used to train the spirit. This isn’t really the same thing as spiritual training but rather developing one’s hara, grit, ability to “take it.”

At the beginning of this month’s Adult Basic class we, as typical, discussed how Aikido helps us develop the ability to thrive in many of life’s most difficult circumstances. Part of the training designed to develop this ability is focused on the spirit. Our bodies are great, they help us move around, and interface with other things in our environment. However, our bodies also have some limitations. There is only a certain amount of pain, fatigue, hunger, and oxygen deprivation that they can endure. A well trained spirit can help us change our relationship to these factors. These experiences are all sensations that we experience and that everyone else experiences in their lives. These are not things that stop us from accomplishing our goals but rather signs that tell us we are in the process of accomplishing our goals.

Throughout the first week of December (12/4 – 12/8) our dojo will provide an opportunity for training our spirits. At 5:15-6:30 each morning we will do breathing exercises as a group. This training, combined with our regular evening classes, will lead to strong development in our practice.

By Nate Weed

Aikido In Daily Life: November 2017

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

Such an opportunity I have for you…

In my life right now, I seem to be engaged in a bit of a work related conflict. This is a conflict that has a lot of influences but ultimately creates some less than virtuous energy between myself and a colleague. This conflict could be characterized as a challenge in my life. And, if I considered it a challenge, I’d probably try to win that challenge. And winning might not be a good strategy because this a colleague who I care about and who I want to be successful (in fact my success and her success are really one thing). So rather than frame this conflict as a challenge in my mind, I’m working hard to frame it as an opportunity to practice instead. I like practicing and I’m hardly opposed to some hard ukemi when I practice. So, if I can use this great opportunity to practice, I will get to learn something new, I’ll have more fun with it, and we’ll both probably be successful.

I just have to remember this in the moment…

Doctrine, Strategy, and Tactics- Martial Arts

November brings several cultural opportunities to be thankful. (Even though we can actually choose to be thankful every day.) One of those opportunities is Veterans Day on November 11th when we can demonstrate our appreciation of our veterans. Within the martial ways, there is a connection among the concepts, mindsets, training objectives, and approaches to combat and warfare. As 21st century Americans, it’s common to look at these concepts and automatically turn our mind to violence and destruction. However, we, as martial artists, apply the perspective of budo and armistice – both words meaning peace, setting aside arms, and restoring harmony.

Within any martial endeavor, doctrine shapes how those involved will behave. Commanders use doctrine and turn it into leader’s intent – a description of what what success will look like. From the leader’s intent, officers select strategies that can be applied to meet the leader’s intent. Finally, the martial practitioners develop tactics to implement those strategies.

In every martial art and every martial discipline this logic establishes a decentralized and empowering path. The Aikido doctrine is to maintain peace and restore harmony where it is missing. Senior sensei’s craft clear leader’s intent describing how aikidoka will develop awareness to a level that they can recognize conflict early and resolve it without injuring any party. Senior students, informed by the leader’s intent, select strategies for teaching, enabling, and reinforcing key principles among their fellow students. Finally, as individual martial artists, we apply the techniques in the dojo and struggle to apply the principles behind those techniques in our relationships and our lives. And, through this process each of us is doing our part to help our communities realize the doctrine of Aikido – creating peace.

Aikido in Daily Life: October 2017

Floors…

Hard floors, soft floors, concrete floors, dirty floors, clean floors…

I don’t recall thinking about floors all that much in the past several years. In fact, I sort of took floors for granted- at least consciously. Then I’ve recently had a few experiences where floors began taking on a bit greater importance in my life. (I’m happy to tell that story over some beers.) As floors became more meaningful, I realized that the practice of Aikido may be making all of us more aware of the surfaces in our environment. Honestly, where else will you find a group of people who spend this much time hurling each other at the ground? It’s possible that the Aikidoka relationship with floors might even make us floor aficionados. But really, so what? Well, the practice of Aikido is also designed to help us build our awareness beyond what we started with. More importantly, our reality relies on gravity pulling us and other objects toward the surfaces we stand, sit, dance, lie, and train on. So, as part of building our awareness, it follows that this often take- for-granted part of our environment is worth noting. Because you never know when the floor will be one of the most reassuring parts of the environment.

Biochemistry and Aikido

In September, I read a book called Leader’s Eat Last, by Simon Sinek. I had heard his TED Talk about the biochemistry of meeting goals, being rewarded, and building trust. It seemed interesting and when he released his new book, I decided to check it out.

This was an interesting book and it certainly illuminated several key elements of leadership and how they play off of our own human biochemistry. For example, when we reach a goal our bodies often release dopamine. This hormone makes us feel good but it’s also a chemical closely related to addiction. If our bodies and actions are in harmony, this works out great because as we do things for others, our bodies release serotonin which fills us with feelings of wellbeing. Finally, there is oxytocin which is the key hormone related to trust and is released with positive physical contact.

This could also be the biochemistry of Aikido, or perhaps an aim of Aikido is to better help us maintain harmony among these chemicals. In the pursuit of any martial art, one must set goals, identify milestones, and so forth. This keeps us motivated and keeps us training hard. On the other hand, our training partners are essential to our practice and when we focus on helping them improve and excel, we have the opportunity to balance dopamine with seratonin. Best of all, Aikido encourages the release of one of the most powerful hormones, oxytocin. This trust-creating hormone allows us to further our practice as individuals and as a dojo. So whether we’re seeking to improve our leadership or deepen our practice of aikido, if we dig to the foundation of human biochemistry, Aikido and leadership might be the same thing.

 

Aikido in Daily Life August 2017

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

We talk about taking up the slack in the techniques of aikido. From almost our first classes we begin to explore the best way to remove slack from a technique without telegraphing our intentions. When we start out with katatatori techniques it seems pretty simple to eliminate the slack between uke’s hand and our wrist. As the techniques become more complicated, it becomes easier and easier to let slack into the system.
For most of us, daily life presents far more complex opportunities for taking up the slack. When we think about our relationships with family members, friends, work colleagues, maybe even people we don’t enjoy being around, our temptation is to either provide slack or overtake-up-the-slack. Typically, we aren’t really paying attention to being connected to others and because of this, we also don’t notice the quantity of slack we’re creating. So, as we work to apply Aikido in daily life, we should take every opportunity to notice if we’re taking up the right amount of slack.

What’s with the baggy pants?

Aikido is one of a few martial arts where practitioners wear a hakama. When O Sensei taught Aikido, he required students to wear hakama during practice. Many of his students didn’t have a lot of money and would take old futon covers, dye them blue/black and convince someone to sew the salvaged fabric into a hakama. The story is that over time the dye would wear away and the original futon prints would start to show through.
Since that time, Aikido dojos have adopted various policies on wearing the hakama ranging from “everybody wears them”, through “only the head instructor wears one”. The Aikido Olympia approach is that people shodan (first dan blackbelt) and above wear the hakama. Our rationale is that it’s easier to help students work out their footwork and movement with techniques when a bolt of black fabric is not hiding their feet and legs.

Finally, the folding a hakama. The pleats and the long straps of these pants make them difficult to maintain, and difficult to fold into a portable package. There is a practical reason you’ll see yudansha folding their hakama on the edge of the mat after practice- they don’t want to iron it and if they can fold it in a way that protects the pleats, they don’t have to. You might also notice that senior students will ask to fold the instructor’s hakama. This demonstrates respect, helps people learn how to fold the hakama, and creates a game where everyone is demonstrating how they’re still applying martial awareness after the class has ended.

Aikido In Daily Life July 2017

Aikido in Daily Life

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

Some of you may be aware of a little “discussion” going on in the virtual aikido community, regarding the effectiveness of aikido in competitive martial arts. This is an interesting discussion since aikido is based on the principle of non-competition. For many aikidoka, we passively accept that aikido isn’t competitive but don’t often ponder what strategic value this principle might provide.
As a pretty competitive guy, it took me years to realize that if you’re not trying to compete with someone, either in life or in a martial art, then you gain a strategic advantage. First, if you’re competing, you have to be willing to put yourself out there as you have to “make your move”. By not putting energy into that, you can instead put your energy into being able to respond. Second, in competition we have to establish criteria for who wins.

By not setting artificial criteria for success, we open more options for how we can be successful. In fact, some options include all involved parties being successful together.