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Training at Bushwick Dojo

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What are the goals of practicing aikido?

“Each person comes to aikido with different goals.  Some seek physical fitness, others a means of self defense, and still others mental discipline.  Aikido offers these and many other benefits; ultimately, the individual is free to choose his or her goal in practicing aikido.” (Robert)

What can I expect from my practice?

“Through the patient practice of aikido, you may improve your movement, flexibility, endurance, balance, patience, and coordination.  You will learn many techniques, as well as the ability to receive those techniques when applied to you.  You will learn to fall, roll, flip, and otherwise hit the ground safely.  Used properly, aikido training may also help you face certain fears:  of pain, injury, loss of control, intimidation, or of physical force or domination.  Everyone practices with safety as the first concern.  Above all, aikido training should be healthy, positive, and, yes, fun for everyone involved.” (Robert)

Are weapons used in aikido?

“Weapons are used in Aikido. We use a wooden sword called a bokken. A wooden staff called a jo. And a wooden knife called a tanto. As one of my instructors used to say, you are the weapon, these objects are just extensions of you. As you can tell, with Aikido and most martial arts, the philosophical component is always present. Having said that, weapons allow us to study deeply into what it means to be balanced centered using both sides of our brain and body. Conscious of our surroundings, our distance from others, and ability to relate empty hand techniques to their weapons counterpart to name just a few of the other benefits.  Bottom line is utilizing weapons and learning forms with the bokken, jo, and tanto can only enhance your training.” (Chase)

What is freestyle?

“Freestyle, or jiyu-waza, is a high-energy, unstructured practice exercise during which multiple challengers take turns attacking one opponent who defends him or herself using a different aikido technique each time. Jiyu-waza exercises build fluency in the ‘language’ of aikido as students learn to construct physical sentences on the fly. When performed at a high level, jiyu-waza appears flowing, calm, and poised. It trains the mind in addition to the body, as students learn to remain calm under stress and develop zanshin (relaxed alertness). Beyond jiyu-waza comes randori: truly unstructured simultaneous attacks from multiple opponents. Randori of some sort is present on all ranking examinations, and the number of attackers increases as one tests for higher ranks. Testing for dan ranks involves randori with five or more attacks at once.” (Michael)

Are there competitions in aikido?

“No. Although aikido is a relatively young martial art, born in the twentieth century, it traces its roots back Japan’s traditional systems of battlefield combat where competition was a matter of life and death. There are no competitions in aikido because aikido training is more a conversation than a fight. Learning to safely receive techniques as uke (oo-keh) is just as important as learning to execute them as nage (nah-geh). Productive resistance is edifying for advanced students who have developed the necessary sensitivity, but the danger of injury is simply too great for all-out competition or sparring. Aikido techniques and their predecessors are not designed to score points; they are designed to resolve conflict. While much of what you see in aikido is flowing and beautiful, every technique contains devastating potential for those who choose to pursue of a holistic martial understanding of the art. Finally, the idea of “winning” is simply anathema to the spirit of aikido, which ultimately seeks a harmonious resolution to conflicts. Aikido gives a practitioner a set of tools and a choice. It is always possible to receive an attack and neutralize it without harming one’s opponent.” (Michael)