• NEW YEAR NEW YOU


    Embarking on a journey of self-improvement in the New Year often involves setting resolutions to enhance overall well-being and find balance in life. A lesser known yet highly effective avenue for achieving these goals is the practice of Aikido. Developed by Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido is a Japanese martial art rooted in the principles of harmony and non-resistance, offering a unique approach to reducing stress and anger while fostering physical health and mental balance.

    Aikido’s philosophy centers on non-aggression, emphasizing the redirection of an opponent’s energy rather than confronting it with force. Through the art’s mindful movements and breathing techniques, practitioners experience stress relief, finding a space for mental clarity amidst the demands of modern life.

    In the realm of emotions, anger is a common yet challenging emotion to navigate. Aikido addresses this by teaching the art of non-resistance, allowing individuals to redirect and transform the energy of anger rather than meeting it head-on. The art’s emphasis on fluidity and adaptability provides a constructive outlet for managing and diffusing anger, enabling practitioners to respond to challenging situations with composure.

    Beyond its mental and emotional benefits, Aikido is also a physical practice that enhances cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility. By promoting natural body movements, the art contributes to joint health and overall well-being, creating a holistic approach to physical fitness.

    Aikido’s teachings extend beyond the physical realm, fostering resilience and adaptability in practitioners. The practice of flowing with the energy of an attack instills a mindset that proves invaluable in facing life’s uncertainties and adversities. This resilience becomes a crucial asset on the journey towards achieving New Year’s resolutions.

    In the pursuit of positive change and balance in the coming year, Aikido stands as a holistic practice that addresses various aspects of well-being. By incorporating principles of harmony, non-resistance, and mindful movement, Aikido provides a powerful framework for reducing stress and anger while promoting physical health and mental balance. Consider stepping onto the mat of Aikido as a means to embrace harmony for a more balanced and fulfilling life in the New Year.

  • Happy Holidays and New Year!

    Whenever possible, use the buddy system by traveling or attending events with someone else who can provide an extra layer of security and support. Keep someone informed about your plans for the day, including your whereabouts and expected return time. Regularly check-in with them so they know you’re safe throughout the day. Before going out for the night, ensure that transportation arrangements are made beforehand; whether it’s designating a driver, using ride-sharing services, or having taxi numbers readily available.

    Keep a close eye on your personal belongings at all times, especially in crowded areas where theft can occur more easily. Avoid excessive phone use while walking in public areas as it can make you an easy target for theft or other crimes; instead, stay alert and aware of what’s happening around you at all times.

    Always trust your instincts when something feels off or doesn’t seem right—this is an important part of staying safe in any situation. Don’t be afraid to move into aikido stance and position yourself in an optimal position for executing your plan to be safe. Remember your Basic aikido training, know your surroundings, and those around you, know where the exits are and the path to get to them.

    Don’t make yourself a target (like counting your cash in public, walking around with cellphone as your basic focus, and valuables easily accessible to other, etc) Remember, having a plan and being prepared doesn’t mean living in fear—it simply means prioritizing your safety and well-being so you can fully enjoy the holiday season. Keeping all of this in mind will help ensure that you make it home SAFE this holiday season. If you found my perspective interesting and want to find out more check out the video on my YouTube channel linked below where I talk about the awareness levels in depth.

  • Aikido: Budo That lives.

    Aikido to me is Budo that lives in the theory of Tomiki Aikido is an attempt at practicing those theories Yin and Yang, a trendy tattoo nowadays but do people really take the time to understand the principle behind it. There is a widespread misconception that Yin and Yang are opposite forces in conflict with one another. Yin being a negative force and Yang being a positive one.

    The truth of the matter is that while they are opposing forces, they are not conflicting forces. They do a delicate and constant dance that maintains balance in everything. Although they oppose one another, each one could not survive or even be without the other. The real truth is that inside the center of each force, the other dwells. The same could be said about Aikido and the impact it has had upon my life. When the word Aikido is broken down, it means “the way of unified energy.”

    Aikido is the delicate pendulum balancing unity between mind and body. Not always does the mind do what the body wants and vice versa. It takes practice, patience and failure to create the unity needed between these opposing forces. Morihei Ueshiba once said that “Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.” My interpretation of this quote is “Try. Fail. Try again. Fail better and then repeat.” This interpretation has worked for me.

    Every movement and every thought have meaning and purpose. What one practices is what one will do. Make your practice say what you want it to say. When training, do not rush. Take the time to learn what you are doing. Analyze every movement and every thought and figure out the goals you are trying to accomplish. Once you have the basic understanding of a technique, practice it alone very slowly, looking at your balance and body placement. Then add an uke while focusing on that uke’s balance an ability to counter. If that goes well, add dynamic movement (practice from slow punch or entering grab etc.)

    After all that goes well, ask others for input. Within my dojo there were many students that studied many other arts. There were students of aikido that studied striking, grappling and kicking arts which added a vast knowledge to what we were trying to accomplish. We would spend a lot of time working on “what if” type practices and asking everyone to bring everything they knew to practice. This helps us develop our aikido to control anyone at any time. After all that we would try it in randori while remembering our dojo code and goals. Then after randori practice we would have a better understanding of the technique to take back to kata and start all over again. This type of practice taught us to look for the weak point in techniques and we worked to make them better and adaptable to any situation. It is important to practice the physical movement of the techniques in the way that represents your personal goals. Aikido, to me, is Budo that lives in theory.

    Aikido is merely a theory to me because it cannot be proven definitively without being performed to its entirety. We, as martial artists, try to avoid that extreme outcome at all costs and most can say, thankfully, they have never been in a scenario where they had to perform, they’re training in its entirety. Minamoto Musashi put it into words in the best way possible. He said that “The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them.” That is the goal of our art, and it is why we do what we do. It is for prevention, protection, defense and peace. It seems that the path of Tomiki Aikido has been altered by the competitions that are being held. It seems that today many people decide to do martial arts and train for the purposes of competition rather than learn for the actual knowledge of the art. This is not why I chose Tomiki Aikido.

    Yes, Tomiki Aikido has competitions, but it should be Aikido competitions and not competitions of Aikido. If one puts the competitions before the Aikido, what is the point and real intention of training? There can be no personal growth if the only end goal that one has is that which goes against Aikido’s intended purpose. I practice Tomiki Aikido and would say, if you are going to get lost, better to get lost in the Aikido, not in the competition.

    William Ball
    Yondan Maryland Tomiki Aikido Center

  • Aikido: A Path to Reduced Stress and Increased Flexibility

    Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art, has increasingly been recognized not just for its self-defense techniques but also for its vast health and well-being benefits. Among these benefits are stress reduction and the promotion of flexibility. Let’s explore how this gentle martial art can bring about these positive changes in its practitioners.

    Understanding Aikido

    To grasp how Aikido impacts stress and flexibility, it’s crucial to understand its philosophy and principles. Aikido, translated as “the way of harmony with the spirit,” focuses on using an opponent’s energy against them, rather than meeting force with force. This principle, derived from the art’s founder Morihei Ueshiba, promotes harmony and blending with an attack, emphasizing fluid movement and balance.

    Stress Reduction through Aikido

    1. Mindfulness and Presence: Aikido practices often necessitate complete immersion in the present moment. Like meditation, this focus on the “now” helps the mind break away from daily worries, anxieties, and stressors.
    2. Breathing Techniques: Proper breathing is fundamental in Aikido. Deep, controlled breaths are used not only to power techniques but also to calm the mind. This type of breathing can lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone), leading to a calmer, more centered state.
    3. Physical Activity: Engaging in any form of physical exercise, including Aikido, releases endorphins. These chemicals, naturally produced by the body, act as painkillers and mood elevators, which can help alleviate symptoms of stress and depression.
    4. Building Social Connections: Training in a dojo (Aikido training hall) fosters a sense of community and belonging. Building positive relationships and having a support system can act as buffers against stress.
    5. Cultivating Discipline and Patience: Aikido techniques require patience and consistent practice to master. This process teaches practitioners the value of perseverance and delayed gratification, traits that can help manage stress in everyday life.

    Promotion of Flexibility

    1. Dynamic Stretching: Aikido sessions often start with a series of stretching exercises. These movements prepare the body for the techniques that follow, but also over time, lead to improved flexibility.
    2. Fluid Movements: The art emphasizes flowing, circular movements. Practicing these regularly, along with pivots, rolls, and turns, naturally improves flexibility and joint mobility.
    3. Strengthening of Core Muscles: Many Aikido techniques require the use of core muscles for stability and power. As these muscles strengthen, they also help in promoting better posture and range of motion.
    4. Reduction of Muscle Tension: As stress is reduced through the practice of Aikido, muscle tension also decreases. Relaxed muscles are less prone to injuries and can move more freely, enhancing overall flexibility.

    Conclusion

    Aikido, while primarily seen as a martial art, transcends this label through its comprehensive health benefits. Its emphasis on harmony, fluidity, and connection with one’s surroundings provides a holistic approach to mental and physical well-being. The combination of stress reduction and enhanced flexibility makes Aikido a potent tool for those seeking to improve their overall quality of life. In a world filled with daily pressures, the path of Aikido offers a respite and a journey towards a healthier, more flexible self.

  • Understanding Shoman Ate: The First Technique of Tomiki’s Training

    Have you ever wondered why Shoman Ate (#1) holds such a prominent place in Tomiki’s Aikido training? Let’s explore this foundational technique that can empower you to transform potentially dangerous situations into opportunities for controlled outcomes.

    Shoman Ate is a technique that strategically moves you from a vulnerable position to the center of uke’s power. Although this might initially seem perilous, mastering Shoman Ate grants you the ability to prompt an almost immediate response from your opponent. Through dedicated training, you learn to position yourself strategically, channeling uke’s actions within predictable boundaries.

    What sets Shoman Ate apart is the depth of balance and understanding it demands from both you and your opponent. Achieving mastery of this technique is not only about physical prowess but also about honing your awareness of self and others. As you delve into its intricacies, you begin to embody the core principles of Aikido philosophy: harmony, control, and empathy.

    To harness the full potential of Shoman Ate, it is essential to focus on its foundational aspects through regular practice. As you progress, you embark on a transformative journey of self-awareness and personal growth, deepening your connection with the world around you.

    In conclusion, Shoman Ate is more than just the first technique of Tomiki’s Aikido training; it is a doorway to empowerment and understanding. By embracing the power of Shoman Ate, you can navigate through challenges and shape the flow of energy to your desired outcome. So, take the plunge into this captivating martial art, where the foundation and fundamentals of Shoman Ate become the keys to unlocking your Aikido potential.