The COVID pandemic is slowly becoming something we’re all learning to live with. This is a challenge for martial art’s training as we share physical contact with one another. That said, Aikido Olympia continues to implement our safety protocols with masking, hand washing, getting vaccinated, and encouraging people to stay home and get tested even if they are feeling a little bit “off”. These behaviors have served our dojo community well for the past 21 months, and we have confidence that they will help keep our training environment safe for the foreseeable future.
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 Aikido is fundamentally about unifying our mind, body, and spirit in pursuit of our life’s ambitions (whatever they might be). In our practice we often use our bodies to better understand how to approach obstacles we face in daily life or how to comport ourselves mindfully and energetically and thereby better flow with the routine. At a recent class, with some of our more advanced students, we took an opportunity to explore this more intentionally than we often do. In this, each person considered a challenge they were personally experiencing, and then each worked to find a physical posture that provided a similar feeling. From there, we applied the principles of ukemi: finding our centers, moving intentionally to a safer posture, and then to a posture where we were again prepared to engage. This was a slow and deliberate way of stepping through a process by which we explore both physical discomfort and the physical movements that help us transform a challenging situation into one we can more effectively address. It was simply doing one Aikido art slowly and mindfully, or at least doing the ukemi for one art.
Every time we take ukemi, and every time we practice an art, our bodies, minds, and sprits are learning from the experiences. When we apply greater intention to our practices and accept them as a way to learn how to transform what is uncomfortable (or even painful) into feelings of safety and confidence, we are preparing to apply this learning in our daily lives.
Every year, our dojo closes for the last two weeks of December, but before we do, we all (kids, adults, family members, get together at the dojo for a few hours to do some deep cleaning and light maintenance. The goal of these events is to build community and prepare the dojo for the new year. This year Saturday, December 18th, is the day we will do our Annual Dojo Cleaning and Maintenance! We will begin at 10:30 and all are invited to come and help for as long (or short) as they can.
Many of you have been training regularly and rigorously since we held promotional demonstrations last summer. As December is approaching, our Aikido Olympia Head Instructors have decided that we will hold promotional demonstrations in December. We will offer promotional demonstration opportunities to both kids and adults. Demonstrations will be held on Saturday, December 11, 2021, from 4:00 PM until everyone is finished (around 6:30 PM).
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.
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). 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.