There's something strange going on in Castle Rock. Residents over fifty years old are beginning to practice a Japanese martial art called Aikido (pronounced 'eye-key-doh').
Aikido isn't exclusively for men and women over fifty, but Aikido does seem to have an affinity for that age group. "I think it is because Aikido is a great form of exercise and a powerful form of self-defense, but still allows you to go to work on each morning without being covered in bruises and broken bones," says an instructor.
Castle Rock AIKIDO & IAIDO don't seem surprised that their Aikido program is attracting people over fifty. "We have a tendency to attract more a intellectual, mature and introspective student, which may come with age, I suppose" he continued. "Our students really are here to become better people. It makes it a pleasure to teach them and we learn so much from them, as well." According to the instructors, there are no young, "hot-heads" with a chip on their shoulder in the program. "When those kind of people do show up, they tend not to stay," said another teacher. "Our program attracts people that are interested in having fun and growing personally, not people who are interested in learning how to hurt others."
Working adults tend to get forget that it is important for them to play, too. It's important for their health, their fitness, their mental state and even their social life. Aikido is a great opportunity to cover all of these needs. "Kids already have so many different activities to choose from. Our adult program is specifically targeted to adults - no exceptions. We have a separate program for teenagers 13-17, but the adult program is exclusively 18 and over. Our focus is on providing adults with a fun, friendly, and physical environment to de-stress and grow as people."
Castle Rock AIKIDO & IAIDO also tailors to adults by holding weekday classes in the evenings. Classes don't start until 8 p.m. This allows adults to come home from work, eat something, spend time with children, and then go practice Aikido for an hour or so. "This approach has been very successful for us. We seem to be fulfilling a real need in many Castle Rock households," expressed school owner, Sean Hannon.
When most adults think of a martial arts school, they often think of children's classes, colorful belts, and pre-arranged fighting forms performed against imaginary opponents. Walk into many martial art schools and you'll hear loud shouts, screams, and grunts and if you look at the faces of many students you'll see a lot of brooding and grimacing. This Aikido program in Castle Rock is different. The predominant sound in class isn't shouting, but laughter. And, if you look around the room you see nothing but wide, bright smiles. "Aikido has a tendency to produce extreme happiness in people."
While many martial arts have an age-related shelf life (like many professional sports do), Aikido is a life long practice. Aikido doesn't adversely discriminate with age. While much more dynamic than yoga, Aikido is similar to yoga in that you tend to get better, not worse, as you get older. "One of our teachers back in Japan is over 80 years old and still practices Aikido daily," says one instructor. Furthermore, like yoga, Aikido contributes to health and longevity by helping to keep the body limber.
Aikido strongly promotes and emphasizes body awareness. It is a way of physically reconnecting with yourself. By practicing Aikido, you learn to recognize just how much people have lost touch with their bodies, their senses, and for some people, their spirit. Aikido truly reawakens a spark of life long forgotten by many working adults. And, it does this without causing pain or injury.
Student Gary S., 56, shared that "As I get older, I think about how I might maintain my balance, agility and coordination. As a health care professional I see many older people who have fallen and broken bones, in particular their hips. This happens, in part, because of a diminished sense of balance, a loss of agility. Aikido, through its repeated practice of centered movements, can help prevent such injuries by helping to maintain agility and a strong sense of balance."
Paul P., 51, another health care professional at Parker Adventist Hospital, is attracted to Aikido because of it's non-competitive nature and relaxed atmosphere while still providing a good workout and good means of self-defense. "We accomplish an awful lot in a hour long class" says Paul. The low risk of injury played a significant role in his decision to practice Aikido, too. "Because of my profession, I need to be able to go to work the next day without injury. Aikido let's me do just that. Plus, I feel refreshed and revitalized after each class."
Doug S., 55, has studied other martial arts in the past, however he prefers Aikido because of its more natural, flowing blend of form and function. "It's powerful, but graceful at the same time," says Doug. "And, it's really great for stress relief. When I'm grumpy after a long day at work, Aikido is a great way to focus on something non-work related for a while."
Castle Rock AIKIDO & IAIDO located inside Village Fitness at 880 West Happy Canyon Road in Castle Rock. You are welcome to come watch or try a class for free anytime. You can visit their website http://www.craikido.com/. You can also reach them by calling 720-221-3665.