Student Comments About Aikido
|Aikido is not an aerobics class, and the dojo
is not a gym. These were my first impressions when I walked up the stairs to view my first Aikido class. It took me
about five minutes to decide to join and one month of training to be completely hooked. I have always been in
competitive sports and competitive academic environments, and the fact that everyone was equalized on the mat
- and that beginners and advanced students trained together attracted me. There is no competition - we are
training, teaching and learning from each other. No other sport I've been involved in brings out the intensity,
gracefullness, strengths and weaknesses that Aikido does.
I have a difficult time bringing people to the dojo because I tend to prejudge people and their potential interest in a martial art. People also have preconceived notions of what a martial art is - and Aikido is not that. I think the key to bringing people to the dojo is jut that...bringing them to watch a class, seeing Juba Sensei teach - no words, no sales pitch.
Aikido has been the greatest discovery. It has brought all the things I
love about athletics, relationships, community and challenge into one place.
|Training can be rough - with many aches
and bruises. It can also be very gentle and subtle - as one flies through the air with the guidance of a partner, and
becomes sensitive to the motions of an attacker. Aikido is disciplined fun and teaches a sense of self respect,
cleanliness and community spirit that one carries away from the mat to the world at large.
|I wanted to do a martial art, but whenever I visited
a dojo everything looked showy and I kept hearing about how soon I could get my black belt. That really wasn't what
I was looking for. I wanted a physical exercise that brought with it some discipline and purposefulness. Aikido is
purposeful. It's a purposeful exercise. It's training and conditioning. It builds strength. It's quite a work-out.
But then Aikido is more than the physical work-out. My mind and spirit are equally challenged, and as a result,
practicing Aikido never gets dull or repetitive.
Aikido also proves a connection with other people. We rarely practice alone, and the contact with people during
training is challenging and always different. It's not like playing tennis with a partner - it's much more intense.
Both on the mat and off the mat, the people I work with and hang out with at Aikido are really extraordinary.
Juba Sensei is an incredible instructor. I didn't realize how dynamic he is until I saw him in the context of
many other Aikido instructors from around the U.S., and I saw that he is truly one of the best instructors in the
country. We are extremely fortunate to have a teacher of his caliber in a community like New Haven and now New York.
A good teacher makes a big difference and Aikido of Manhattan has got that.
|I love Aikido. Initially I was attracted
by the beauty and the force of the movements. As I began to practice, I was faced with hard work, physically and
emotionally. Taking on the challenge and growing in it has been and continues to be one of the greatest joys in my life.
|Training Aikido is like nothing else
I've experienced. In all my years of physical training, I have never come across anything that develops you mentally,
emotionally, and spiritually as well. It is extremely challenging and really great, because anyone can learn at any time.
Another really interesting experience for me was to go to summer camp and to see first hand what all the senior
students have been saying all along: what great teachers we have and how fortunate we are to be studying under them.
|These are just some observations that might
be useful to those telling others about Aikido.
I tell everyone and their grandparents about Aikido. Many people I bring to the dojo comment on how different Aikido is from other martial arts (or from their perceptions of other martial arts). I think it is important to point this out - purely defensive / almost always with a partner / one progresses through the art of "ukemi" or taking the fall, etc.
The atmosphere in our dojo is very open and friendly (and clean - let's keep it that way - especially the men's shower).
Aikido teaches one how to really open one's eyes and to see what is going on. What is more, it helps us to keep them open even especially outside the dojo in everyday life.
Aikido is very much about being there - in the moment.
The dojo is a community of people (within a society in which community is not valued enough).
|If you want to challenge yourself,
study Aikido. If you want to spend your time worrying about things and just wasting away your time and energy,
that's fine too. You decide.
|Aikido is multidimensional. It is
about facing ourselves, confronting and moving beyond our limitations, both perceived and real. This happens
through our interaction with each other. Having to work with other people, no matter what their level, forces us to
work through our own frustrations.
The dojo is peaceful. It isn't a gym. The first time I walked in I said, "Ah, this is something different." I knew right away I had to try it.
Aikido mastery requires attention, decisiveness, directness, clarity, receptivity, perserverance, harmony, and remaining
centered. As I move toward acquiring these skills through Aikido training on the mat, I discover these qualities occurring
more spontaneously, easily and naturally in other areas of my life.