Borrowing Items from the Dojo Library

What’s the next best thing to training in Aikido? Reading about it of course! Geeky awkwardness aside, the Griffith Aikido library at Nathan campus has an extensive range of

books, DVDs and other materials. The collection ranges from manuals on Aikido as well as other martial arts, biographies, humorous memoirs (Angry White Pyjamas!!!) and even samurai films.

Not to mention material related to the martial traditions of Japan in general. I find there is generally something there for everyone. If you’re not sure, just come and ask me!

These materials are located on the top 3 shelves of the metal cupboard in the Nathan dojo. We are very lucky as an organisation to have all these materials and as you go through your Aikido journey, a good book may be inspirational or even insightful along the way. We welcome you to peruse and borrow items that will prove invaluable to you in your training. From time to time, you may also find new items added. So do take a look every now and then.

 

However, in order for me and others to keep track of all these amazing materials, there are some rules members must follow in order to use the dojo library.

 

The Rules

1. Only members that have a coloured belt may use the library (however, if you ask a senior committee member, considerations may be made for you).

2. Borrowing
This is a tricky one. When borrowing an item, you must pull out the white card, fill in your name and the date you have taken it. Then, in the catalogue box (which is near the books) place the item’s white card standing up in the box, and take the item’s matching red card and place it inside your borrowed item. Make sure the right card is in the right book as well.

3. Returning
When returning your items make sure you fill in on the item’s RED CARD the date it was taken and returned. Then replace the white card with the red one back into the catalogue box. Place your white card back into the item you borrowed.

4. When borrowing an item, you must return it within 6 months.

5. Generally, you should have no more than one item at a time.

So those are the rules to using the library. By following them, you ensure that I and other committee members can easily keep track of who has what items. This means I can spend more time on the mat training.

Thank you

Chris Cobbo

Self Defence with Aikido

We all have busy lives. It’s hard to carve out time to do something for ourselves. If we do find some time for self-improvement, there are many options to fill this void. Learning

self-defence can be a worthy and rewarding choice.

At the fundamental level, self-defence is an insurance policy in personal protection. It promises to provide the tools to deal with physical violence should you encounter it. According to the ABS, 4 in 10 men and 3 in 10 women have experienced physical violence after the age of 16. Given that most people carry the desire to be able to protect themselves from harm, why don’t more people learn self-defence? Maybe it’s because they feel lucky and think they won’t ever experience physical violence, or believe it is someone else’s job to protect them. Or perhaps, th

 

 

ey have always wanted to do it, but never found the time. Just keep in mind there is little time to procrastinate, or opt out, if someone chooses you as their next target.

 

Aikido is one of the many choices when it comes to deciding which self-defence to learn. Aikido has its roots in feudal Japan as techniques to defend against one or more attackers with, or without, weapons. These techniques have been developed over time by masters devoting their lives to the study and improvement of the martial art.

 

Where Aikido differentiates from other martial arts is in its philosophy to avoid, neutralise and immobilise the attacker. This means the first, often unconscious, reaction to a perceived attack is non-aggressive avoidance and, in the following steps to neutralise and immobilise, you get the choice of

dialling up the aggression as required by the situation. The ability to keep the aggression low also provides the benefit that the techniques of Aikido can be taught safely in the dojo in a friendly, co-operative way.

It is difficult to limit the benefits of Aikido to self-defence when there is so much more to this martial art. The study of mindfulness through breathing and meditation exercises will help in dealing with stressful or difficult situations. Also, the study of movement and balance keeps the body flexible and healthy. So, it is definitely worth finding some time for Aikido.

On the Importance of Breathing

In general, you will find at Griffith Aikido that in class, we perform breathing practices from time to time. It may seem strange to practice your breathing as this is something your body just does. As I’ll explain below and in later posts on the topic, breathing is an important subject to research in your own training and development. I would be even daring enough as to say that breathing plays an integral part to not only martial arts but any movement in general.

So, now to prove the case for my bold assertion. Breathing is a subconscious mechanism. It is rarely given the conscious attention it deserves, as it happens automatically. As anyone would rightfully know, the body depends on oxygen to survive. Your body’s autopilot system cues the body to breathe, as without oxygen, the brain would eventually shut down and you would die. In our classes, we usually perform breathing training at the beginning, during or at the end of a lesson. It is somewhat necessary, in order to gain the mental and/or physical attributes of Aikido.

At the start of class, breathing is performed as a good way to ‘warm-up’ the body physically and mentally. Before placing the body under physical stress, the lungs need to be prepared and even trained to give greater or steady amounts of oxygen when the body physically or mentally demands it. Like finely tuning a car, working on your breathing will assist your performance greatly in any endeavour.

When you start up your car, it is generally good practice to leave it sitting in idle for a little time before driving. Doing so allows the engine to warm up and for fuel and oil to pump through the mechanics. Breathing is somewhat alike in that it allows us to stretch the lung sacks by expanding and deflating the lung tissues as well as pump oxygenated blood through the system.
Breathing also helps with that all important aikido principle of relaxing the body. Breathing additionally works as a form of meditation to sharpen one’s focus and concentration. By consciously focusing on inhaling and exhaling, like practicing a weapon’s kata, it gives our mind a simple set of movements to focus on. By focusing our concentration in such a manner, we can clear away all distractions to focus on the current task at hand. This in turn strengthens our level of concentration and focus before we engage in training that requires mental and physical rigour.

During high speed training, such as in taninzugake (where your partner/s repeatedly attack you in quick succession for a period of time), breathing practice assists in calming the mind during a highly stressful situation. When stressed, the body may not function properly. This is akin to pushing the accelerator pedal down so hard on a car, that the petrol intake chokes the piston and thus, your car does not go any faster or even function better.

In our martial situation, we are dealing with oxygen and adrenaline pumping into the body. The result being that you may breathe so quickly, that you cannot actually take in the oxygen and instead build up carbon dioxide. This is better known as hyperventilation. When under pressure, focusing on pacing the breathing by staying calm keeps the body working while dealing with the oncoming attackers. Moreover, reduced adrenaline allows our vision to not become narrowed and be aware, essentially, avoiding the flight or fight response mode.

Lastly, you may partake in breathing training at the end of the lesson as a way to mentally and physically “cool” the body down. This is achieved by the pace of breathing to slow down the heart rate of blood pumped through the body.

This is still only a very superficial description of breathing in aikido. I will in future discuss the basic body mechanics of breathing as well as the history of breathing through the lens of Japanese influence. Ranging from Japanese mythology and sword schools to the early 1900s craze of breathing practices in Japan, and then its influence in the early 20th century strongmen and weightlifters of today.

The Art of Aikido and What Helped to Shape It

Unlike other martial arts Aikido is not about attack and defense. At it’s core it is about re-directing energy to create harmony instead of harm.

It wasn’t always that way though. I tend to look at the evolution of Aikido as having two distinct eras. The first is pre-world war two and the second is post world war two.

Pre-world war 2 Aikido had a very different flavor to it. Japan itself had a much more martial approach to life so it makes sense that this would have flowed into the early days of training in Aikido.

Aikido at this time was made up from a variety of styles which the founder, O’Sensei studied such as Judo, Jujutsu and many others. The main teachings though arose from his training in Daito-ryu which was a combination of several martial arts including swordsmanship and spearmanship.

A great deal of emphasis was placed on atemi (strikes) during this time which could be delivered by any  part of the body to any part of an opponent’s body.

After the war, things changed. There was less focus on the martial aspects and more emphasis on neutralizing an attack by using the energy of the attackers movement to neutralize them.

Although many of the pre-war techniques were still applied it was the way in which they were used that softened the blow to an opponent. Atemi now became about leading an opponent’s mind rather than attempting to cause physical harm.

When you lead an opponent’s mind you are able to effectively catch them off balance which makes it easier to disarm or pin them so as they do not harm themselves or others.

While there are as many applications of Aikido as there are schools to be found it really comes back to the tradition of the Dojo you are training in and whose methodology they are following.

There are still some Dojo’s that practice pre-war Aikido as that’s the way they like to train – and for some that will suit them fine. For others though, they are more drawn to the softer side of Aikido which is more about staying calm and relaxed and using little to no force against your opponent.

In fact, the more relaxed you are the simpler it is to apply any Aikido technique with minimal effort yet your opponent will feel like the ground just disappeared from beneath them. The faster and more aggressively someone attacks you while you stay relaxed and alert, the more they will hurt themselves as you simply re-direct their energy back to them.

The key here is to stay soft and relaxed. The moment you tense up then it becomes a battle of who is the strongest and true Aikido is never about a test of strength.

That’s why modern Aikido works well for men, women and children of almost all ages. It is one of the only martial arts I know that you can start when you are a child and continue for as long as you like.

There’s never a right or wrong time to learn Aikido. It really depends on why you want to train and what you are looking to get fr
om it. Keep in mind that the reason you start out training will most likely change over time.

I know that my reasons for training have changed massively since I started. At first, it was about being able to defend myself and those I love in a world that continues to grow more aggressive and violent.

Now, I train because it helps me to learn about myself so that I can become the best version of myself possible. For me, this means knowing how to stay relaxed no matter what’s going on around me or inside my mind or body.

5 Ways Aikido Training Can Help Improve Your Life

Before I started training in Aikido I had spent two decades studying other forms of martial arts. Most of them were very martial which means a lot of physical contact and ultimately I could see that as my body ages I would not be able to keep up this level of intensity.

I was also concerned about the ever increasing amount of injuries that I was getting from training in these other styles. This led me to looking around for a martial art that I’d be able to do for the rest of my life that helped with self-defence and was kinder to my body.

That’s when I stumbled across Aikido. I didn’t really know much about it at the time except for what I had seen Steven Seagal do in the movies. From the very first time I went along to train I fell in love with it. Yes, the training was hard but as I watched the higher grades training together I was mesmerized by how relaxed and graceful they appeared to be when practicing together..

Since then, I have come to understand why it is that I love Aikido and the enormous amount of benefits that I see showing up in my life as a result of training in this particular style of martial art.

Here are the top 5 ways that I see Aikido helping to improve your life:

1. It teaches you to stay centered even when under pressure.

If someone had of said to me prior to training in Aikido that you can stay calm and relaxed while being attacked by 4 or more people and manage to stay in control I would had laughed at them. Now, I’m able to stay relaxed and alert no matter how much force an opponent may use. In fact, the harder someone tries to attack, the easier it is to use their energy against them. If you apply this same principle to your work and home life, especially during those times that you feel under pressure then it’s easier to remain centered amongst the chaos going on around you. The benefit of this is that stress gets easier to manage which is a Godsend because stress is one of the biggest health and productivity killers around.

2. It helps builds confidence.

Confidence is a big topic for many people as it one of those things that you either have or you don’t. Some people are confident in some areas of their life while lacking in other areas. What Aikido does is give you confidence that you are in charge of your mind and body. As we have thousands of thoughts every day it is no surprise that what goes on in your head has a big impact on your quality of life. Through Aikido training, you are able to have a more focused mind that is clearer, calmer, and more self-assured. When you are confident in your mind and body, then it’s easier to be confident in all areas of your life.

3. It is good for your body.

I never would have thought that this would be true of a martial art. Since training in Aikido though my body has never felt so relaxed yet so energized, flexible and strong. It’s not like training in cardio or weights as that’s purely physical. In Aikido, the physical part of the training is for helping to learning techniques and how to be more coordinated in your mind and body. You learn things like rolling and moving out of way from an attack, how to control the space around you so you can’t be harmed, and how to always be moving your body while staying relaxed. While there is a lot of physical activity in Aikido it’s all done with the intention of staying relaxed yet connected to your body.

4. It helps you to be more compassionate.

Aikido really is the art of peace. You train not to learn how to attack or defend you train to learn how to have enough awareness of mind and body to be able to redirect the energy of an opponent so as they don’t hurt you or themselves. When you are able to confidently move out of the way of a verbal, emotional, or physical attack and then calmly redirect that energy back to where it came from then you have mastered the art of true compassion. Compassion is not about being weak and doing nothing, it’s about being aware of how you can best create peace where currently there is none.

5. It’s all about self-development.

There’s a saying that if you are not growing then you are decaying. What this means is that if you don’t make the time to work on bettering yourself then nothing much will ever change in your life. Aikido is a lifelong program in self-improvement. It teaches you that true power comes from softness and that no matter how good you might think you are at anything if you stay humble and keep beginner’s mind then you’ll always be opening to learning. You learn so much about your mind and body when training which is invaluable because it helps you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

While Aikido might not be everyone’s cup of tea I’m certain that it is for everyone. Whether you are 5 years old or 80 years old Aikido has something to offer for your mind, body and spirit. It is an art form that is really about living more fully and freely in your body. It also teaches you the skill to work with or get out of the way of negative energy so that you don’t get so easily dragged into it and be a victim of circumstance.

If you haven’t tried an Aikido class yet then perhaps it’s time to look into it for yourself and see if it’s something that will benefit you and where you’re headed in life. Aikido is also great for kids as it helps boost their self-esteem and teaches them so simple skills to help with bullying of any kind. In most clubs the first lesson is almost always free which makes it easy to check it out. I look forward to possibly training with you on the mat some day.

Koichi Tohei Sensei – Ki Aikido 1/5 Fundamental Concept Principle

Now this looks familiar…

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