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 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 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

Zazen Training Schedule

This month Aikido Olympia is working to get our Zazen training back onto a more regular schedule. Over the Summer, several of our students were training to attend a Zen intensive. At one point, I think they may have been training several days a week. Since they returned, we’ve had an opportunity to re-set the schedule. To accomplish this, we are seeking input on what days and times work best for those interested in this aspect of our training. If you would like to add your input, please stop by the dojo and put in your vote.

By Nate Weed

Updating Testing Criteria

Aikido Olympia instructors have recently reviewed the existing testing criteria and begun updating those requirements. With a round of promotional demonstrations recently completed, and the next opportunity coming in December, the timing for making adjustments seems right for our dojo. Overall, the new testing criteria will not look significantly different for our adult students and will better align with the broader Aikido Yuishinkai testing criteria. Our youth testing criteria will be perhaps more of an adjustment. 

With our younger students, we want to create a bit more opportunity to work on things like focus, working with others, mindfulness, and awareness. With more emphasis on these practices, our youth instructors are working to align some of the testing criteria to the focus of these classes. There will still be a set of techniques we expect students to learn, but we’ll also ask that they demonstrate exercises and katas, as well as comfort working with others. 

By Nate Weed

Testing beyond the test…

This month Aikido Olympia will be hosting promotional examinations. These will be held on September 27th, and is our custom, we will begin with a short class at 5:30, hold space for those testing to demonstrate their development, and finish with a snack-luck (a pot-luck with slightly lighter fare). Those who are testing all know what the testing criteria will be and have been training hard to develop a great set of techniques. 

As we all advance and inevitably have more opportunities to test/learn along the path, we find that testing occurs every day. That is to say that this practice continually tests us and puts us in a position to test ourselves. And, when we arrive for a “Test” we are really demonstrating that we are progressively comfortable stepping into ambiguity and risk with the confidence of someone who has already been tested. 

For those testing, good luck on the 27th and we’re all looking forward to what comes out!

By Nate Weed

No vacation from shugyo (training the spirit)!

At the end of last month, I had an amazing opportunity to spend 12 hours physically exhausted and pretty much miserable…

For background, my dad is a 74-year-old and decided that he was going to do an endurance event called a GORUCK Tough challenge. These events are developed by military special operations veterans who provide a 12-hour long event that’s patterned after military special operations training. So naturally, if he’s going to do something that crazy, I figured I’d better do it with him. 

The whole thing began at 10:00 at night in Spokane, Washington. It started with a lot of jumping jacks, push-ups, sit ups, and other such things. After some of that, everyone donned 30-40-pound packs and spent the night walking long distances with that weight and doing more physical training, at regular intervals. 

These events are designed to break people down physically and force them to do two things, push beyond physical limits and work as a team. In fact, this was the type of thing that Aikido training prepares one for. Those situations where a practitioner must access the energy of the universe and allow it to flow through them in order to be successful. These are the times when the ego must simply be overcome and pushed to the side and being in harmony with the team is essential for success. 

As we practice at Aikido Olympia, we need not think about testing ourselves in this way but we should acknowledge that there may be times in our lives when we need to call upon our ability to breath, relax, and find our center when we have little physical strength left to contribute.  As the Aikido Yuishinkai motto says “…even if my body suffers physically, my mind remains optimistic. Even if I encounter obstacles, my mind is never defeated…” 

The rest of the story, all of the participants had to face failure, all of them had to acknowledge that they no longer had the physical ability to keep going, and all of them embraced and supported each other until 10:00 the next morning when everyone (even the 74 year old guy) finished the event in harmony with each other.

By Nate Weed


This month, Jennifer Sensei will be moving to Portland, Oregon. We’re going to miss her leadership in our Dojo and the interesting techniques she shares when she’s teaching. And, to see her off, we are going to have a short class at 5:30, on Friday August 16th. This will give Jennifer a chance to throw all of us one more time. Following the class we will have a potluck so that we can all have some social time. 

New book available at the Dojo

While traveling this spring, Chuck Pailthorp visited Weidenaudojo in Siegen Germany, today one of the few Yuishinkai dojos in Europe.  The chief instructor, Stefan Leiendecker, treated me like a visiting family member.  He and his partner, Gunda Hoier, were welcoming, generous and delighted that our dojos now have direct contact.  Chuck practiced at their dojo one evening, and found the similarities and differences instructive.  Among other kindnesses, Stefan and Gunda showed him a few books they currently enjoy, ones they thought other Aikidoka might value.  Dance with Heaven & Earth: Life Lessons from Zen & Aikido by Anna Sanner is one he would like to share with you.  Ms. Sanner offers beautiful, practical reflections about what it is to practice Aikido well.  Her book is written so that one can read a page or several, set the book aside, and bring her suggestions to one’s time on the mat and to everyday life.  Chuck has added a copy of her volume to our dojo library.

By Chuck Pailthorp