As a reminder, Aikido Olympia will be increasing our fees in January 2019. Our Dojo remains 100% volunteer and non-profit, but we still have to pay our rent, electric, water, and for some ongoing maintenance.
Annual Dojo Maintenance
$20 per visit
Students and youth
$20 per visit
Senior Center/ Parks & Rec. Evergreen
As described in flyer
None – though donations are welcome
*To continue supporting families who participate in our dojo, we’re simplifying things and taking $15 off for each additional family member.
The kanji that hangs on the shomen at Akido Olympia is Kokoro. Kokoro means heart! but not just the internal organ of a heart (though it can mean that too, and if you look at it, it looks like a heart but usually when used this way the kanji is called “shin”). Native Japanese speakers tell us that kokoro is well understood in Japanese, but that it’s very difficult to translate in English. As Aikidoka we have a bit of an advantage in understanding this because it aligns with our concept of integrating mind, body, and spirit (which we learn are not different things) as whole human beings.
As we move into the holiday season, we hear a lot about opening our hearts, giving of ourselves, and love. These are aspects of kokoro and aspects of Aikido that should apply at all times, but we can certainly use this time of year, and the many opportunities it brings, to learn more about how we have integrated our mind, body, and spirit as we spend time in our community and with our families.
We come to our dojo to train so that we’re better able to apply the principles of aikido in our daily lives.
In our practice we struggle to figure out how to live in harmony with the world around us. As we begin this process, we must assess how willing we are to extend our trust to others as we allow them to use our bodies to practice techniques. Eventually we become more comfortable with extending that trust and we increase our confidence that things will usually work out well. As our practice continues, we must learn to apply this reinforcing cycle to extend trust off the mat. This may be extending trust in our personal relationships, maybe in our work relationships, and possibly in all of our interactions with others. The key ingredient in moving from one level to another is optimism.
When we can look at the world with positivity and confidence that even the things that can hurt or injure us will work out pretty well, then we can more easily extend trust to others. Ultimately, our practice is that we can extend this trust to everyone. This does not mean that we don’t make sure we can take care of ourselves but it means that we can truly show everyone respect and that we can approach everyone with a positive bias. At this level in our training we assess what we need in order to truly realize that aspiration.
As we approach the holidays, Aikido Olympia will have some extra spaciousness for spending time family and friends, and perhaps some introspection. During this time, we know that some of you will want to continue practicing in different ways and some of you may choose to invest in some reading time. Here are some tried and true suggestions.
#1The Book of Five Rings or the “Go Rin No Sho” which was written in 1643 by the famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. This book focuses on strategy in martial arts but provides strategies that apply to many aspects of life.
#2The Art of War. This book is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu and was written in about 500 BC. In this text the author (or probably authors) provide a number of concepts worthy of contemplation for both martial practices and life in general.
#3The Unfettered Mind. Perhaps you’ve heard of the daikon radish? Well, Takuan Soho, the same Zen monk that developed that radish also wrote a foundational martial arts text in about 1630. This book focuses on the cultivation of the mind and intention.
#4The Life Giving Sword. Right above, the work of Takuan Soho is recommended. In fact, that book is the result of Master Takuan’s relationship with Yagu Munenori, the author of The Life Giving Sword. Yagu Munenori comes up in class on a not infrequent basis because it provides insight into the 500 year old process of turning people into complete human beings through martial practice.
A web search conducted prior to writing this article resulted in several lists of essential martial arts books. Many of them are focused on books about techniques or styles. This list focuses on books that shaped the martial arts themselves and influenced martial artists for hundreds of years. There are several different translations available for each of these books and each one contains some of the author’s bias. The key for Aikidoka to get the most from these books is to consider the material in the context of our practices – living in harmony with the energy of the universe.
With any recommended reading list, people will have different thoughts. This is expected, as is some discussion at the dojo about these books and others (and there are so many others that could be considered essential reading for martial artists). Additionally, if you’re looking for perhaps more specific reading ideas or possibly some lighter reading material, don’t hesitate to ask.
This month many of us will have opportunities to participate in demonstrations. The Fall Arts Walk occurs on October 5th and our dojo will hold promotional demonstrations on October 12th.Because of this, I want to share a couple of thoughts about what makes a good demonstration.
First, those demonstrating their practice have to have a clear sense of what they’re demonstrating. This may sound funny but there are different aspects of our practice that can be highlighted in a demonstration. Technique, centeredness, calmness under pressure, moving in harmony with a partner, moving in harmony with a group of partners, reflecting the rhythm of the universe while moving in harmony with a bunch of partners. Ok, the last one’s a little aspirational but you should have the idea.
Second, demonstrations typically elevate the connection between uke and nage. Similar to dancing, when people watch aikido it becomes obvious how well the two (maybe more) partners are connected with one another.
Third, we can see a broader awareness of the space and timing. Working through demonstrations, it’s important to have awareness of the space, the people in the space, the area around the space, and the timing of the techniques and falls that you’re presenting. A big part of a demonstration is to let the people watching see what you’re doing. Big throws are exciting and engaging; complex joint locks are hard to see from across the room.
Finally… Joy! Everyone wants to see you having a good time.
Aikido Olympia has carefully evaluated our fee schedule as we move into 2019. As an organization, it is important for us to keep costs low and to make Aikido accessible to as many people as possible. We do this by working to negotiate the lowest rent that we can, minimizing our use of utilities, relying on all of our non-profit board members to contribute to the overall upkeep and operations, and, of course, continuing a tradition of our instructors volunteering. And, we also appreciate the training space in downtown Olympia that we’ve developed over the years.
To continue operating the Aikido Olympia dojo as we have, fees will have to be increased in 2019. The plan is to increase the monthly dues by $10 for adults and students. The drop-in rate will also be increased from $15 to $20. Finally, we will increase the Annual Dojo Maintenance Fee by $10 for adults and $5 for students. To continue supporting families who participate in our dojo, we’re simplifying things and taking $15 off for each additional family member.
Beginning January 2019
Annual Dojo Maintenance
$20 (per visit)
Senior Center/Parks & Rec/Evergreen
As described in flyer
None – though donations welcome
These fees will go into effect on January 1st, 2019. If you have questions or would like to provide feedback on this, please let an instructor know.
For several years, Aikido Olympia held what we called an Aikido Lab on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. These labs weren’t really intended to be classes but rather an opportunity to practice arts that were taught the previous evening. These classes were often conducted in randori-style where one person would work with multiple uke “in the round”, quickly moving from partner to partner. This approach had several benefits. First, students had an opportunity to review techniques taught the night before. Second, everyone involved had an opportunity to practice the techniques on a variety of partners and could explore how the same technique might change depending on how an uke’s body worked. Third, the multiple uke approach provides an opportunity for further refining one’s 360 degree vision and awareness.
As Tuesday and Thursday evening classes often have smaller attendance than other days, we intend to do more of the Aikido Lab type classes on those days. If you’re interested in working on these types of things, please join us!
At the beginning of every class, we go through a series of movements. It’s common for many of us to start taking these movements for granted or to start thinking of these movements as exercises to prepare our bodies for practice. In fact, these movements are intended to help us find some insights into the techniques of Aikido. They are the “forms” or kata of Aikido.
In many Japanese martial arts, kata are a series of movements that students practice many times over. Kata provide an opportunity to explore mind and body integration and one might go so far as to say that they are ultimately a way to practice integrity. Aikido kata are rather simple in their form, funikogi kata, ushirodori kata, etc. However, these kata all contain the core movements of Aikido arts. Additionally, they are often done as a group, giving Aikidoka the opportunity to further practice the movements of our art, in harmony with one another. This exploration of mind and body integration, combined with the intentional focus on maintaining 360 degree vision and being in harmony with our training partners, is a powerful training technique. Finally, kata are most instructive when we can effectively visualize a training partner challenging our movements and helping us commit to our movements.
As we practice our kata at the beginning of each class, we should work to be present and focused on what we’re doing. As a group, this activity will help us all develop our Aikido and enhance the kiai of our dojo.
Across the martial arts world, discussions abound about the concept of rank, what it means, the level of rigor that should be required, and so on. In most respects the standard for promotions are not completely transparent. At Aikido Olympia, we have criteria for the number of classes everyone must complete to be eligible to participate in an examination, we also have a list of techniques that students are expected to demonstrate during promotional examinations. Finally, we have some expectations- “That you will become increasingly positive in your daily life.” We also observe the martial tradition of maintaining some level of mystery around promotions.
At Aikido Olympia, our practice focuses on the ongoing personal development and individual commitment to our practice. As each person’s journey is different, so is the manifestation of their Aikido.
While many of our training partners are preparing for the upcoming promotional examinations, some of us are asking ourselves, are we ready? This is a question that promotional examinations are intended to bring out. And there is an appropriate response: decide to do it, set your hara, train hard, and proceed with confidence that things will work out well (one way or another).