Castle Rock's newest martial arts school will put its students on the defensive. Aikido has no punching or kicking. The point is to deflect an attack without harming the attacker.
Sean Hannon opened the Castle Rock Aikido March 25th with a free class and demonstration. The school is located inside Village Fitness at 880 West Happy Canyon Road.
"Aikido is particularly aerobic," says Hannon, a student himself at the school. "You're up and down a lot. "The Japanese-style tatami mat cushions falls.
Aikido, literally translated, means "the way of harmonious spirit," according to Castle Rock AIKIDO & IAIDO. Aikido students defend themselves by moving in the same direction as an attacker while applying pressure to vulnerable joints to establish control. Police officers use the same technique to subdue suspects.
Beginning aikido students learn how to fall in a safe manner and how to follow the pressure being applied by their opponents. If students don't follow the pressure, limbs would snap; however, aikido has an unusually low injury rate for a martial art."I think the most serious injury we've had is a pulled muscle," says another instructor.
Hannon continues that aikido classes could benefit relationships. "I think aikido improves communication skills because it's based on resolving conflict," he said. "You're not fighting force with force."
Aikido students' movements are fluid, almost dance-like. To an untrained observer, the art resembles a carefully choreographed sequence in a martial arts film but without violence.
The instructors wear hakamas - large, loose pants that were traditionally worn to obscure the martial artists' feet and stance. Their students wear traditional white martial arts uniforms.
Aikido is a relatively new martial art with its influence seeded in World War II. Following the war, the Japanese were seeking a martial art that wasn't focused on injuring the opponent. Morihei Ueshiba developed aikido to bring peace and harmony to martial artists.
The Castle Rock AIKIDO is affiliated with aikido's founding family in Japan. Their students learn some commonly used Japanese words, etiquette, and customs as a part of their training.
Anyone is invited to observe the classes, and they encourage "people who think they may be too old" to give aikido a shot.
For more information on the Castle Rock Aikido, call 720-221-3665 or visit www.CRaikido.com.
This article was originally published in the Casle Rock News Press April 5, 2007 and was written by Jess Burskirk and was revised and updated in 2013.