Martial arts sensei celebrates 35th anniversary
The Japanese martial art known as Aikido is distinct from many other fighting styles. As Derm McDonald, the sensei (meaning “teacher”), at the Aikido Institute of Newfoundland (his dojo) explains, Aikidoka are not training to injure anyone, to win, or to bolster ego.
“We train to strengthen our bodies and minds; to find peaceful resolutions to conflicts; to heighten awareness; to deal with multiple attackers; to be calm under pressure; to be sincere and honest in practice, and to apply good, effective technique in a controlled fashion. This is the essence of training - training your Self.”
As a member of Aikiweb.com illustrates, no one ever has to walk away injured.
“[When I was young], I happened across a friend begin and end a fight immediately with the Aikido technique “waki gatame”. Aside from maybe pride, no one was hurt. I asked him what exactly he had just done, and he told me about Aikido. [Soon after] I began training. The rest is history.”
And speaking of history, the Institute has produced more than 25 black belts since its beginning. Normallyit takes five years or more to get to this level.
“It is quite an accomplishment for students,” says McDonald. “I've had school administrators tell me getting their black belt was much more rewarding and meaningful than getting their Master's degree.”
This year marks McDonald’s 35th anniversary with the art. Believe it or not, he’s 60 years old. You certainly wouldn’t guess it by looking at him – he looks younger than some 40 year-olds! He testifies to the benefits Aikido has provided him with.
“I'm grateful for Aikido: for the good health I enjoy. Physically for flexibility, cardio and overall well-being; mentally, it was a form of therapy for me and the benefits are certainly many. It has been is my time, my little vacations during the week.”
Without hesitation, he recommends it to anybody as a form of maintaining good health.
“With its strong philosophical foundation, physical workout, efficient martial technique and non-competitive approach to practice, it’s simply good for you!”
A strong premise within Aikido is how it is so intertwined with daily life. Paul Glavine, a senior student at the dojo (and instructor at another), explains to me he has taken a lot from the practice to his own life.
“Generally, I try to treat others the way I like to be treated. Like everyday life, you should always try to respect other people and never take advantage of their weaknesses for your own gain.”
Fortunately, he says, he’s never had to use his skill in a dangerous situation.
“It gives you an increased level of awareness. For that reason, my training in Aikido has helped to keep me out of dangerous situations.”
One of the few criticisms Aikido receives from people is that it would not be effective in a “real fight”.
“These are, I suggest, people who have never practiced Aikido and who do not understand, that's all,” addresses McDonald. “Given the way the world is, some people can't see beyond competition, superiority, winning and losing. That's what we learn, but that's not what Aikido is all about. Simple.”
“I think if it had more exposure, if more people saw a practice, or just joined for a little while, they would learn and appreciate what Aikido is, and would be quite surprised at the intricacy of the movements and their power and effectiveness.”
Those interested in learning more about Aikido or signing up should visit AikidoNL.com.
Tags: Aikido , Martial Art , Martial Arts , Fitness
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