Zen Training at Aikido Olympia

Zazen is a seated meditative practice that forms the foundation of Zen. As we move into the new Aikido Olympia schedule, Zazen will continue to be practiced on Monday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30. With some extra time, 45-90 minutes, activities will expand to include some additional forms of practice, including primarily taiji and okyo (chanting) and occasionally other fine and martial arts and discussion of Zen precepts. This schedule will also allow for a full complement of Aikido classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and keep our Zen practice from running too late into the evening.

As a related prelude, Larisa, Will, and Erica plan to attend a seven-day intensive with Wong Roshi in California this coming July.  The additional time on Monday evening sessions will provide an opportunity to elevate this part of our training in preparation for the July intensive while continuing to increase the kiai of our dojo.   

Looking ahead, in June Larisa, Will, and Erica (and maybe some others) will again increase the intensity and cadence of the training to longer and daily practice for the final week of June and the first week of July. The forms and location of this practice is yet to be determined.  And beyond July, well, to offer a Zen take on the old Jewish proverb: humans plan, and Buddha laughs!

Please note that everyone at the dojo is invited to this practice, whether you are a new, occasional, or dedicated Zen practitioner.  It will be an act of compassion if you would kindly let Larisa know, in advance, if you or anyone you invite intends to join the Monday evening  Zen practice.

By Larissa Benson and Nate Weed

Aikido Olympia Schedule Change Starts April 1

Aikido Olympia will change our schedule beginning April 1st, 2019. Our classes will move to a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday class schedule to help us consolidate the kiai of our dojo and provide the best training we can. 

No Class5:30-6:30 PM Youth AikidoSpecial classes TBD5:30-6:30 PM Youth AikidoNo Class7:00-8:00 Am MisogiNo Class
6:30-7:30 PM Basic Aikido6:30-7:30 PM Basic Aikido8:00-9:00 Am General Aikido
7:30-8:30 PM General Aikido7:30-8:30 PM General Aikido

By Nate Weed

Weapons Maintenance

Over the last month, we have seen a couple of wooden weapons fail during class… Fail as in they became two separate pieces. Additionally, we’ve had reports of splinters in people or on the mats. Right now the weapons racks are getting rather full and it’s time that we all take a good look at our weapons and the communal weapons in the rack and make sure they are in good working order. Please take a little time this month and carefully assess the weapons you use for any cracks, chips, splinters, roughness, or “funny looking spots”. For most wooden weapons, any minor damage can be rubbed out with a little sand paper (typically 220 grit does the trick). If the weapon has a crack or chip that can’t be taken care of that way, it may be time to retire that weapon (be aware that glue, wood filler, and even most epoxy won’t hold up in paired weapons practice). If you have any questions or find something that’s borderline, please speak to one of the sensei about it. 

By Nate Weed


Due to weather conditions that will make it difficult if not impossible to get to downtown Olympia on Monday, February 11th, at 5:30 in the morning, Aikido Olympia is postponing Kangeiko until the week of February 18th.

Kangeiko is “cold weather training”. At Aikido Olympia, this is an annual event that provides the opportunity to wake up earlier than some of us think is normal, to accept the world around us even if it’s cold and rainy, to remain undistracted by the feeling of our bare feet on the freezing cold mats, and to practice vigorously before we begin our day. Kangeiko elevates our own practices, nourishes the kiai of our dojo, and hopefully helps us develop greater perspective- “If I can participate in Kangeiko and enjoy it, then what else am I capable of doing?” Kangeiko will be held Monday, February 18th through Friday, February 22nd, we will meet at the dojo from 5:30 to 6:15 in the morning for these classes. 

By Nate Weed

The three sisters

To go along with Aikido in daily life: February 2019, I want to share this short aikido simile. I’m not sure who originally wrote this but want to share…

“Jujitsu, Judo, and Aikido are like three sisters. Jujitsu is the oldest sister. She has a temper and likes to fight. She is only interested in winning, has fought many times, and knows what techniques are effective. Since she will fight anyone, she must have excellent technique to secure victory. And, if you had to be in a fight, you would want her standing next to you. Judo is the middle sister. She is more interested in fun and competition, not actual combat. She is excited by the glory of competition. But she can and will fight if pushed. Years of training and competition has made her tough. And remember, she grew up with big sister who taught her a few tricks. Aikido is the youngest sister. Although she is familiar with war and competition, she has little use for it and almost always finds a peaceful solution. She is also the most beautiful of her sisters and people feel good just being in her presence. But she is not incapable of defense. She can manage quite well on her terms, and she is very tricky. Even still, one should be aware that even if she fails, she still has two older sisters who watch over her. “

Author not known

Aikido Olympia Schedule Change Coming

Aikido Olympia intends to change our regular schedule beginning on April 1st, 2019. In reviewing class attendance, instructor availability, and community classes, it seems that moving to a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday class schedule would help us provide the best training and increase the kiai of our dojo. Youth Aikido would remain from 5:30-6:30 on Tuesday’s and Thursdays. We are moving the adult basic time to 6:30-7:30.  Following that on Tuesday, we would hold a general class from 7:30 – 8:10 pm then zazen, and on Thursday’s have an hour long general class from 7:30-8:30. Our Saturday morning schedule will remain the same. With this, some instructors will be able to do some topic specific classes on other nights as interest dictates. Thank you for your understanding. All feedback is welcome. 

By Nate Weed


 Misogi is the Shinto custom of removing the impurities that build up within each of us. In Aikido training, sensei from the earlier years of this practice would often comment on the quality of a student’s ki. A clear honey colored ki that was rich in effervescence was healthy while a ki that resembled oil from the refuse bin at the Jiffy-Lube was not. Related to this was the concept that through the practice of Aikido, a student’s ki could be cleansed with hard work and a lot of ukemi. In addition to the routine practices of funekogi kata and tekubishindo kata (both forms of misogi), many who trained in Aikido added additional training in misogi. External misogi to purify one’s self with  cold water is perhaps one of the most archetypical forms of this practice. In fact the “Black Belt” card in the popular Pokemon trading card game depicts a young person in a gi and black belt meditating under a waterfall. There are also more internal forms of misogi. At Aikido Olympia we practice bell misogi every Saturday morning. In this form of misogi, a simple but vigorous physical activity (sitting and ringing a bell) is paired with repetitive chanting that resembles a kiai. Either way, the goal is to return a person to a state of being in which they can better sense their own awareness and connectedness. 

Regardless of whether you choose to enter the frozen water on January 1st or sit with a bell on Saturday mornings, much of what Aikido is about is to help us learn to clean up our own baggage and expand our awareness to those things bigger than ourselves. O Sensei has been quoted over the years with saying something to the effect of Aikido is Misogi. He also gave this advice: 

“Daily training in Aikido allows your inner divinity to shine brighter and brighter. Do not concern yourself with the right and wrong of others. Keep the mind bright and clear as the endless sky, the deepest ocean, and the highest mountain. Do not be calculating or act unnaturally. Keep your mind set on Aikido, and do not criticize other teachers or traditions. Aikido never restrains, restricts, or shackles anything. It embraces all and purifies everything.” 

As we begin 2019, I hope that Aikido Olympia collectively enters the new year with this sense of clarity and openness.

By Nate Weed

2019 Fee Changes

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. 

Monthly Annual Dojo     Maintenance Drop In 
Adults $90 $60 $20 per visit
Students and
$80 $40 $20 per visit
Senior Center/
Parks & Rec.       Evergreen
As described in    flyerNone – though   donations are   welcome N/A

*To continue supporting families who participate in our dojo, we’re simplifying things and taking $15 off for each additional family member.