When, Where, etc?
What does this all look like in motion?
Two of my three teachers
Yup. Check out the cartoon on the right. (Thanks to Sara and Andrea!)
Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art based on traditional-ryu like ken and jujitsu. Created by Morihei Ueshiba and named in the 1930's, aikido is often called "the art of peace," because it actively practices learning to stay compassionate, flexible, and nonviolent in the face an enemy no matter what they do. Many contemporary practicioners of various martial arts including aikido extend "aiki" (blending with rather than resisting attack in order to create change) themes and metaphors beyond the dojo and literal physical conflict. An international organization, called Aiki Extensions, exists for no other purpose than to encourage this movement.
This "freeing" of aiki is the core of Free Aiki, though financial contribution to the dojo is also on an entirely open sliding scale. When freed to be understood both literally and metaphorically, aiki lead Brandon WilliamsCraig to the formulation of Martial Nonviolence,® a Process Arts which combines traditional aikido, theater improvisation, and group process design and facilitation into an art of peace that builds and support communities able to work through conflict done well to make peace.
Thanks for your interest in Free Aiki Dojo! Please connect with us using the following resources as soon as you are able, as communications are central to our flexibility and ability to respond to the changing needs of our community. If you have any questions after reading this, please email sensei at freeaiki dot com and I will answer right away.
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Could you give me an explanation about the bowing and clapping performed at the beginning of the class?
Many people wonder what the bowing and clapping ritual is about. I have a piece at http://culturesmith.com/Hakushu which offers some brief responses, as my Ph.D. is in Cultural Mythology and Psychology and I tend to go on too long in areas which interest me. At Free Aiki the ritual is of historical and functional interest, as I am not a practitioner of Shinto and do not present Morihei Ueshiba as a religious figure in the sense most people mean when they use that word.
I noticed that you have a very strong grip. Do you practice or recommend any strength training exercises, or does all the effectiveness of Aikido come from technique and controlling Ki?
I don't emphasize strength training. Whatever muscle I have is the result of using my body all my life, which includes lots of physical work and training over many years. Grabbing partners and swinging bokken (wooden practice sword) and jo (wooden staff) over and over as our style does (following Morihiro Saito Shihan) tends to enlarge the forearms (resulting in widespread inside jokes) and strengthen the grip. The grip is also a matter of how one grips, which can be easily taught.
As in many martial systems, effectiveness comes from arriving fully in the urgent moment slightly more fascinated than fearful of what might happen, so that cultivated flexibility and practiced conflict skills may both be rapidly brought to bear. Aikido works based on the right combination of blending (aiki), posture (shisei), and timing (sen) in order to help someone remain continually unbalanced (kuzushi) and find the floor. I find that strength more often prevents this than not, but a whole system working in balance simply uses strength correctly. It does not function without strength or muscle.