Read what Boston Kokikai Aikido students are saying!
How I get into Aikido
At the age of 10 years old I remember reading my older brothers Aikido book which sparked my own interest. I was often his stand in as he tried to practice on me what he was absorbing from the martial arts books he read. It was around 1994 or 1995 for a short period that I attended Aikido classes in Cambridge under sensei Mitsunari Kanai. When I decided last year to go back and resume my study I found out the unfortunate news that sensei Kanai had passed. I had admired his character, humility and grace. For the times that I interacted with him he was a kind and gentle person.
As I did my research looking for a new Aikido dojo I notice there was a Kokiai Aikido dojo in Boston under sensei Heather Randolph. Kokiai Aikido International is a branch of Aikido under sensei Shuji Maruyama. Sensei Maruyama is a 4th generation uchideshi (live in student) who studied directly under Aikido founder Ueshiba Morihei. My decision for joining the Boston Kokiai Aikido dojo was based noticing that Sensei Maruyama was an uchideshi under Aikido founder Morihei same with my first Aikido sensei Kanai. Besides that connection, the Boston Aikido dojo was convenient, affordable and has proven to be compatible for me.
How Aikido resonates with me
There are three elements that resonate for me in my practice of Aikido, 1) the idea of striving for peace and harmony, 2) the discipline of practice and respect required to pursue peace and harmony is transferable to other aspects of one’s life, 3) Aikido parallels some of the principle elements of my own philosophical and spiritual values.
Peace and Harmony
Aikido is not a competitive martial arts. It is not a Fist of Fury or Five Finger s of Death type of martial arts that is associated with the martial arts movie genre. Aikido is a path to peace and harmony for the practitioner. As Aikido founder Ueshiba Morihei stated, “Through Aikido, extend all your powers to achieve peaceful harmony.” What this means to me is about having a gentle and humble character that shows respect for humanity. Even in the midst of defending yourself from a physical attack the idea is to also be concerned about the welfare of your attacker.
Discipline and Respect
Practicing Aikido requires a certain level of disciple. Once you are on the mat, there is a certain protocol and etiquette that is required between the students and the sensei. The techniques of Aikido are very dangerous and powerful and must be practiced in a respectful and discipline environment. When the student learns a technique as a uke (the person being thrown) they must know how to fall properly to prevent harming themselves. When the student practices the technique as a nage (the person doing the throwing) they must be careful not to harm the uke. This cooperation during practice between the uke and nage is very important.
The disciple is also part of the student coming to practice regularly and helping out in setting up the dojo and helping keeping the dojo clean and safe. The disciple and respect that we apply in practicing Aikido it is with this same kind of disciple we develop that we carry out in other parts of our lives can help us to have peace and harmony in our work, business, relationships, community and family. It is from my practice of Aikido, the discipline and respect that Aikido requires from me - that I can incorporate it in my everyday life.
Philosophical and Spiritual Values
Aikido also offers a philosophical spiritual dimension which coincides with my own philosophical and spiritual practice. Aikido is about developing your character and seeking peace and harmony. It is about being humble, patient and courteous. In Kokikai Aikido there are four basic principles, 1) Keep one point to develop calmness, 2) Relax progressively, 3) Correct posture, and 4) Positive mind. Internalizing these basic principles can be a foundation that can be very instrumental in helping to create success in other avenues of our lives. As a senior lecturer at the University of Massachusetts and a fourth year doctoral student in Leadership and Change these basic principles of Kokikai Aikido, the practice and discipline of Aikido helps me sort out and put into perspective those hectic moments that life brings.
Tony Van Der Meer