The true value of Aikido etiquette

ki-connection-300x199As training gets under way for another year, it is a timely reminder that the reason we train is to develop ourselves so we can better meet the challenges of life outside the dojo.

Although learning technique is fundamental and a lot of fun, one very important aspect of Aikido training can often be overshadowed.

That is, the art of etiquette.

It is easy to minimise the value of etiquette to a series of bows in and out of the dojo; on and off the mat; before and after practice. However, the positive impact of etiquette can reach much further into our lives and relationships outside the dojo than technique alone.

Look around and you will see that the really good practitioners in Aikido, as in every other walk of life, are defined by their etiquette. That is, in the way they conduct themselves.

Those that are respected are not full of self-importance. They are humble and kind. They respect beginners and seniors equally. Quietly confident in their own abilities, they focus on others rather than themselves. They gain respect because they give respect.

Aikido etiquette is also respect for our dojo just as we would respect our home. It is respect for our instructors and fellow students just as we would respect our family.

Our home dojo deserves the same loyalty and protection that we give to our homes and families. In the words of Maruyama Sensei, “A dojo is not a gym and Aikido is not a sport.”

A dojo is a very special place and should never be treated as a convenience store or part of a cross-training menu. Training and grading under the guidance of Sensei who teach by choice is a privilege. Selfless dedication to home dojo in the Samurai tradition, is still one of the values that underpins Aikido’s connected journey.

Enjoy your training

Gary

Happy New Year! … from Griffith Aikido in Brisbane

gary-e1356227078850-150x150Welcome to Griffith Aikido in Brisbane 2014!

As all of our super keen members know, training has already started. I hear the aiki-addicts had their noses pressed to the glass doors waiting for both dojos to open last week. Another year of aikido training means another year of fun and another year of learning how to apply these wonderful principles to your daily life outside the dojo. Besides welcoming back our returning members, we are looking to meeting new members as we implement a promotional program that will run all year.

What’s new this year!

1. With independence in what we teach, our most senior Aikidoka are getting their heads together to review our syllabus. If I know our old-school Sensei, we will see an emphasis on practical and effective technique; a reinforcement of the art’s history & etiquette and importantly, a renewed focus on the Ki in Ai-Ki-Do. For those new to the art, it’s about developing your own strong and purposeful spirit while staying relaxed under movement and pressure. You won’t learn it from a book. The only way is to practice it for yourself.

2. On the first Thursday of each month at Nathan dojo only, we will be exploring ways to use aikido for self-protection and to cope with some of the everyday challenges that life throws at us.

See you on the mat,

– Gary

Griffith Aikido Brisbane

Start your Aikido journey today. Enrol now at Griffith Aikido Brisbane.
Call Narelle (Nathan dojo) on 0474 218 203 or Michelle (Everton Hills) on 0448 644 436

Brisbane Aikido – the art of peace

“The key to good technique is to keep your hands, feet and hips straight and centered. If you are centered, you can move freely. The physical center is your belly; if your mind is set there as well, you are assured of victory in any endeavour.” Morihei Ueshibapete-276x300-150x150

Had a tough day at work?

Got too much on your mind?

Feeling kind of down?

Too tired?

Too many things to do?

These are all good reasons to take a class today.

As soon as you decide to do that, your day will change. Maybe just a little bit, maybe a lot. By the time you have packed your gi and are on your way to the dojo, your own personal ritual for transformation has begun.

Michael Williams “Aikido Yuishinkai Student Handbook”

Looking for Brisbane Aikido? Start learning aikido this week at Griffith Aikido Brisbane

Class times at Nathan and Everton Hills

Griffith Aikido Brisbane – dojo Closures this week

Everton Hills dojo

Monday 12th August – no adult or kids class because PCYC is closed

Saturday 17th August – no adult or kids classes because instructors will be attending the Will Reed seminar.

Nathan dojo

Thursday 15th August – no adult classes because instructors will be attending the Will Reed seminar.

Saturday 17th August – no adult or kids classes because instructors will be attending the Will Reed seminar.

Next week it is business as usual

Aspects of Irimi

cherry-blossom-300x200Here are a few interesting excerpts in relation to ‘irimi’ by Wendy Palmer in her book “The Intuitive Body: Aikido as a Clairsentient Practice”. It includes a telling quote from the late Terry Dobson.

Strength has more to do with intention than with the size of your biceps. It has more to do with your Spirit and your energy flow than the number of push-ups you can do.”

– Terry Dobson

“The concept of irimi is translated as “entering”. Irimi is an embracing of life, a fundamental urge of our being.”

“In Aikido, irimi is the act of entering directly into an attack.”

“Irimi is the act of entering into life – not trying to avoid it. Irimi is a way of consciously exploring our fear that provides an opportunity to understand what holds us back and prevents us from living fully. What are some of the elements that help us to face our fear, to open our hearts, and move forward into life?

It seems to me that the two most important elements for facing our fear are ground and interest. We begin with groundedness because it provides a place from which we can then become interested. When there is a sense of embodied stability, it allows a settling down that provides some space in our being. Within that space interest and inquiry can arise. The inquiry is irimi. I often say, “If you are afraid of something, become interested in it.” By entering into a situation, we may begin to change our experience of it. Fear often begins to dissipate at this point. There is an element of generosity here as well – we give ourselves to the moment, no holding back, no watching or observing from the outside. We make a complete surrender into the moment.”

Wendy Palmer

Griffith Aikido Brisbane – Nathan class times and Everton Hills class times

learn Aikido – why etiquette is important

brisbane-aikido-shodan-200x300When you learn Aikido, you realise that like most other traditional martial arts, practice begins and ends with courtesy.

Etiquette is a standardised set of behaviours that ensures that everyone acts in a uniform and predictable manner whilst in the dojo. So why is it necessary?

Firstly, it is the way that an otherwise diverse group of active individuals can remain safe during practice. Secondly, it teaches us to pay care, attention and respect to our training partners which, during the course of a class, includes all other students in the dojo.

Aikido is potentially a dangerous activity and requires great concentration. If there is no code of standardised behaviour, how else can 15 -20 people on a mat practice under movement at close quarters without accident or injury?

Bowing a Bokken or Jo onto the mat serves to makes us very aware that we have a dangerous weapon in our hands. Even an accidental bump with a wooden weapon can cause painful injury. A tap on the head can cause damage.

When we bow onto the mat, we are paying respect to Kamiza. This is the place of honour at the front of the mat which symbolises the presence of the founder and the heritage of the art. Bowing on to the mat also serves as an individual reminder to focus on what we are about to do and to do it with a calm, clear mind and no distraction.

When we step onto the mat to practice, we are entering a potentially dangerous place where a high level of concentration and awareness must be maintained. It pays to be respectful when you are about to practice an art that is not a sport; and, in that context, has no rules and no competitions.

We also bow to our training partner not only as a matter of courtesy, but also to signify that we are both ready in mind and body to commence practice. Safe practice and the best opportunity to learn occur when both partners are aware and present in the moment. An attack and response with one partner distracted is an accident waiting to happen.

In terms of respect, bowing means that we are acknowledging our training partner with courtesy, and paying close attention to their needs. It is important to be sensitive to the needs of our training partners because two people are rarely at the same level of ability at the same time, in all aspects of the art.

The need to be sensitive to our training partners is extended further because it has been long established that the most effective way to learn Aikido is through ‘cooperative’ practice. It is an opportunity for two people tuned in to each other (harmonising energy) to learn by applying and receiving techniques in turn. One leads, the other follows; both learn.

It is a waste of that learning opportunity to introduce unwanted resistance. To deliberately impede cooperative practice by repeatedly blocking or offering resistance is nothing more than ego at work, not to mention … very disrespectful to a partner who is kind enough to contribute their mind and body to the other’s learning.

Etiquette is very important when you learn Aikido. Bowing is the outward form of respect; and over time, it is hoped that the inner form follows to the point where genuine care and respect for other people becomes second nature. The more we discover genuine care and respect for others, both in word and deed, the safer we will all be – in or out of the dojo.

Learn Aikido at Griffith Aikido. Start this week!

5 Benefits of Aikido … from our members

Benefits of Aikido …ki-connection-300x199

  1. “If I can relax doing Aikido, I can relax doing pretty much anything”
  2. “I often start with a headache after a busy day and after class I feel fantastic”
  3. “Learning Aikido is helping me to feel more peaceful inside and not fly off the handle”
  4. “I have more confidence now; those little things that niggled me don’t matter now”
  5. “Oh yeah … the self defence part … now that I have it I don’t seem to need it”

Grading last Saturday 27th July

Congratulations to Tien Tien and Ting Ting who performed a very good 2nd Kyu grading demonstration last Saturday. Both were relaxed and very much in the moment as they worked through the curriculum techniques and then into their taninzugake which was also free flowing. And to finish, they found good voice as they powered through their Bokken and Jo kata. Well done to two committed and hard-working sister.

Congratulations also to Michael who performed his long awaited 4th Kyu grading. Michael kindly contributed to our benefits of Aikido matchbox feedback above. He has been training regularly since he restarted his Aikido training and his commitment to the art is paying dividends. Very well done Michael, your techniques were very well executed and you are a great example to those coming up behind you.

Also a big shout out to Jane who also graded to 7th Kyu during the week. I wasn’t there but Ben Sensei was impressed and that is high praise. You are on your way! We look forward to many more Tuesdays and Saturdays classes with you.

If you would like to enjoy the benefits of Aikido contact us.

NATHAN location and class times / EVERTON HILLS location and class times.

Looking for Brisbane kids activities? Nathan Aikikids recommences next Saturday 27th July

aikidokids1After an extended break, we are recommencing Aikikids class at Nathan next Saturday 27th July. The class starts at 10.30am and runs concurrently with the adult class on a separate mat, finishing at 12.30pm.

If you are looking for local Brisbane kids activities, then this may be for you. The Aikikids program has improved in many aspects. It will be run as one class for all children between ages 7-13 years. Younger children may be accepted according to individual circumstances. Although we are not taking away the fun, the class will focus a lot more on Aikido, its principles and techniques, and less on playing games.

Interested parents should bring their child along to any Saturday morning class. We do like to meet with both parent and child prior to commencing training. Fees are $25 per child per month payable in advance via our website. We have done away with the 12-class pass although we will honour cards already purchased.

We ask parents to stay inside the dojo and remain in sight of their children for the entire duration of the class. Parents are responsible for the needs of their children off the mat, including taking their own child to the toilet.

We teach children the principles and martial techniques of Aikido inside a gentle and cooperative framework. One of our aims in the Aikikids program is to build confidence and focus at an early stage, which is why we structure a lot of activities around calm and self-control.

All of our instructors are black belt qualified, certified in basic first aid and carry volunteer blue cards.

For best Brisbane kids activities in town check out our KIDS page

Aikido Brisbane Shukan News

Griffith Aikido Brisbane

Exciting News – Michael Karkkainen Sensei at Everton Hills soon

Michael Karkkainen Sensei will be teaching at Griffith Aikido Brisbane Everton Hills dojo on Monday nights 8th July and 22nd July. Michael is a 5th Dan instructor and usually teaches at Nathan on alternate Tuesday nights. Everton Hills members should not miss this wonderful opportunity. Strongly recommended. Everyone is welcome.

A wonderful future at Griffith Aikido Brisbane

I am pleased to tell you that Griffith Aikido Brisbane is prospering!

It is no secret that the club has been through some challenging times over the past couple of years. Ups and downs are a fact of life in every organisation, but if experience has taught me anything, it’s that adversity and change usually bring with it opportunity; but only for those who choose to see it and act on it.

We are very aware and proud of our history and lineage as we plan for the future. The past is our history and our heritage; but ultimately it is a collection of memories and a rich source of stories. Life is in the present and that is where we are focusing our attention.

Kylie2-300x285Aikido teaches us to connect; to be aware of everything around us and to be present in the moment. One of the benefits of heightened awareness training is that it allows us to anticipate change. Change is inevitable. Often, it is the only certainty we have. The positive to be taken from it is that the more we meet change and blend with it, the easier it becomes to embrace it and work with it.

One of the social benefits of a dojo is meeting new people and the new experiences that result. But it is a fact of life that people come and go. Although the going part is rarely what we want, we must enjoy their company and learn from them for the time they stay. In the end, we are all on our individual journeys; and every now and then a crossroads is reached; a decision point where we must ultimately take different paths.

So to those who feel the need to follow one teacher or another, I say make a choice and continue with your journey. It doesn’t matter where you train. The most important thing in Aikido is that you train. As O Sensei said, “Heaven is right where you are standing and that is the place to train.”

There is never a need to despair over fluctuating dojo numbers. The important thing is that those who want to be at Griffith Aikido are here and very happy to be here. They are our loyal members who want to give back to their dojo, and share their knowledge with students coming up behind them. For that reason, dojo longevity is never at risk either. Numerically, it is simply a function of people starting versus people leaving. At times, more people leave than start. We have been through one of those times.

This should never be regarded as a poor reflection on our dojo or our people. Aikido for the most part is a leisure activity, and people leave because life overtakes them at one time or another. Work, family, relationships and other interests are the most common reason. These things are not in our control. By contrast though, a lack of people starting is very much within our control. It means that not enough attention has been paid to engaging the community and broadcasting our message.aikido brisbane

People walking through our dojo door to learn Aikido is a blessing, but not one that we should ever take for granted. Like every other organisation offering a service, volunteer or not, we must give the process of attracting new members a high priority. ‘Build it and they will come’ only happens in the field of dreams.

With all of that in mind, we have been busy doing a lot of planning since the AGM, and now it is paying off as we regain our momentum. This driving force is in no small way due to the efforts of our dedicated volunteers on the management committee and several other willing members.

I look around at our considerable club resources and feel blessed. We are spoilt for choice with an amazing group of instructors. Some of the most senior Aikidoka in Brisbane teach at Griffith Aikido Brisbane. We have some of the best facilities in Brisbane with two first class training venues and Everton Hills and Nathan; and we have an abundance of mat space and equipment.

Above all, we have peace and harmony; and it’s hard to place a value on that.

brisbane-aikido-4-263x300All that remains is to increase our student membership. We are doing that one student at a time, by actively engaging with the community. Aikido continues to be a word worth spreading, because it represents the one thing that most of us want. That is peace and harmony in our lives, mostly within ourselves. The Art of Peace helps so many people in all walks of life.

To grow a thriving dojo we need effective media. We are now back on air with a new professionally built website that is once again capable of being ranked and able to attract new students. We will apply our resources to support our site with a program of ongoing internet marketing and local promotional activities as we build into the future.

Once again our future is very rosy, and these are our plans:

  • We will stay true to our charter which is to promote Aikido to the wider community. Accordingly, we are positioning Griffith Aikido as the premier Aikido institute whose core objective is to develop people of all ages and abilities from beginner to black belt.
  • One of the key elements we have lacked for some time now is a quality senior’s program. As I said above, we are blessed to have some very senior and talented instructors available to us and who are willing to teach regularly. They include Steve Dows Sensei, Thom Hansen Sensei, Michael Karkkainen Sensei, Rod Nixon-Smith Sensei, and Ben Tan Sensei. In the near future we will roll out a comprehensive seniors program. More details soon.
  • One of the real positives that has emerged from the recent past is that students have become accustomed to classes that more closely resemble personal training. Their high standard of Aikido reflects this. Consequently, we are aiming for smaller class numbers in the future than we have had in the past – somewhere around 20 students per class at both dojos
  • Narelle, Chris and I are putting together an Aikikids program for Nathan dojo which will be very different to that of the past. We are following the model successfully implemented at Everton Hills where emphasis is on self-discipline and learning basic Aikido skills instead of playing games. We aim to instil the basics into children at a much earlier age. As part of the program we will teach techniques to children using the Japanese nomenclature. Aikikids classes will reopen at Nathan dojo on Saturday mornings soon and will run on a separate mat concurrently with the adult class. Our aim is to close the competence gap for young people transitioning from Aikikids to adult classes. This will also provide the opportunity for parents to join the adult class and know their children are in sight and are well taken care of. We will start as soon as there is parent interest. To register your interest, please call Narelle on 0413 664 611.
  • We also plan to re-introduce community self-defence classes in time. We see it as part of our community service to help equip people with basic self- protection skills

We have found our mojo and rapidly regaining our old vibe. We invite former students to consider re-engaging with Griffith Aikido. We know life overtakes everyone at one time or another but you were all part of the interaction that characterised a good night on the mat at Griffith Aikido. If you are willing to embrace all aspects of Aikido Yuishinkai and our club policies, you are most welcome to re-join us.

Finally, I would like to give a big shout out to Steve Dows Sensei. His family has been in crisis for a while now and, as part of his Aikido family, we offer our best wishes and solid support. We send Steve and Lynda our best wishes and collective good Ki.

Kind regards

-Gary

President, Griffith Aikido Brisbane

“If you think leadership is lacking, hold up a mirror. The bravest of all leaders are the first followers.”