Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Make Friends Fast with Aikido!

When adults move to a new town or state, it can be difficult to make new friends. It is not uncommon for people to go through months and months of social isolation. This can lead to loneliness and depression, but over time, people slowly rebuild a new social network. That can be a tough experience for almost anyone. However, there is no reason to wait. Some more outgoing people may make an effort to attend activities like public lectures on interesting subject or things like that in an effort to meet new people. But more often than not, most people usually go to those kinds of events in pre-existing clicks and are often opposed to venturing outside their own groups or unwilling to let new people in to theirs. One of the reasons why events like these don't work so well as a way to meet people is that the event is usually passive (like listening to a lecture) and does not engage others or encourage others to socialize outside of their pre-existing social groups. Aikido, on the other hand, is a very different experience... a very active experience.

The Japanese martial art of Aikido is a great way to make friends fast. In an Aikido dojo (or school), the existing students are always excited to have some one new in class because they are excited to see that someone else is taking an interest in the art they feel so passionately about. Existing Aikido students go out of their way to make new students feel welcome and comfortable. In fact, it is their responsibility to do so. The head "sensei" or instructor makes it very clear to all existing students that new people are to be made to feel like this is their new home... because it is! That is, if they want it to be.

One of the most interesting things about an Aikido dojo compared to many other kinds of martial art schools is the "feel" of the environment. When you walk into an Aikido dojo or watch an Aikido class, the more prevalent noise you hear isn't shouting or screaming like you would expect in a martial arts school, but laughter. And, the most common expression you see on the instructor's and students' faces isn't grimacing or sternness, but big smiles and bright eyes.
In Aikido class, students always work in pairs or in threes and the new students work right away not just with other novice students, but with intermediate and advanced levels to provide an optimal learning experience. It is common for Aikido students to work with 6-12 different partners in each class! As a result, the new students get to know a half dozen people or so in their very first class. That is not too many names to remember and not too few. By the end of their first class, a new student is often on a first name basis with most of those people.
What makes an Aikido dojo such a great place to make friends is that instantly you have something in common with the other students... Aikido! You can't be self-conscious about yourself on the Aikido mat because you're too focused and too busy trying to learn the new techniques. Everyone is there to learn Aikido, a powerful and unique martial art with a tremendous capacity to transform people's lives in every aspect.

Everyone's motivation for practicing Aikido is different. Some people are there to learn self-defense. Others are trying to develop more self-confidence or self-control. Yet still, others are there for the exercise. But even if your reason for being there is just to try to meet new people and make new friends, you're still going to have a great time no matter what.

The friendships you make at an Aikido dojo - like Castle Rock AIKIDO in Castle Rock - don't end when class is over. Aikido schools tend to hang out and socialize with each other often. At Castle Rock AIKIDO, we periodically havea barbeque at a student's home and we cut class short on the 4 th Friday of each month and all go out to a restaurant or a late movie with each other to get to know each other outside of class. This New Year's Day, we are all going up to Boulder together to celebrate 'Mochitsuki,' an annual gathering of the Japanese communityacknowledging the new year.

Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for tremendous social growth in your life. Castle Rock AIKIDO is the martial arts school exclusively for adults in Castle Rock. We invite you to come try a class for free. Call us today at 720-221-3665 or visit us at: www.CRaikido.com for a limited time special offer. Experience a power you never knew you had. Experience Aikido!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Why Do We Spend So Much Time Learning UKEMI? part 2

What does a black belt in Aikido mean to you? I was told that a black belt should be able to take UKEMI from any throw. My training insured that was true. UKEMI is the Japanese term for being able to safely receive an Aikido technique from anyone. It is the ability to follow, flow and fall without injury. It is often said that the first three years in Aikido training is UKEMI. UKEMI is that important.

A few years ago, we were training in Sasaki sensei's dojo in Fujiminou City in Saitama, Japan. Many of his students were already 4th, 5th, and 6th degree black belts. Sasaki Sensei, himself, is an 8th degree black belt. So imagine me, being only a 2nd degree black belt at the time! I was intimidated to say the least. In this situation, 2nd degree black or NI-DAN means next to nothing. Their level of understanding of techniques was so deep that it would blow your mind. In this situation, the only thing I could be confident in was my UKEMI. In their presence, I wasn’t even comfortable saying that I had a basic understanding of Aikido. All I knew was that I could receive their techniques. Of course, it is by receiving their techniques that I would learn the most from them. That is where the real learning in Aikido takes place, through the physical dialogue of UKEMI.

Once you’ve learned to take UKEMI, your technique will follow. If you really want to improve your Aikido technique… focus on developing your UKEMI. A little known secret about Aikido is that UKEMI is the key to reaching black belt, not technique execution. Many students spend a disproportionate amount of their focus on the performance of techniques like KOTE-GAESHI or SHIHO-NAGE. If one is truly present during training, one will be extremely intent while be both uke and nage. Being equally skilled is what will make you a complete aikidoka.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why Do We Spend So Much Time Learning UKEMI?

Response from Sensei:

When you come to an Aikido dojo, the first thing you will learn is how to fall or UKEMI. A wise Shinto priest and Aikido master once said to me, "First learn UKEMI because UKEMI is a form of losing. If you can learn how to lose and how you feel when you lose, the rest of it is easy. No ego, no nothing… Just the way it is." I learned UKEMI in very much the same way. The first thing my instructor, Iio Sensei, taught me was UKEMI. As a matter of fact, the first three years of my Aikido training was all about UKEMI. Nothing else mattered.

During this time, my husband had already earned his black belt in Aikido and had recently attended GASSHUKU (specialized training) with the Wakayama University Aikido Club. He was hoping that I would soon be able to take UKEMI at the same level of intensity as those who had been training for years. Since he had significantly more Aikido experience than I, he worked with me endlessly in an effort to get me up to par so that I, too, could fully participate in the more advanced aspects of Aikido.

For months after each and every Aikido class he would throw me repeatedly so that I could learn UKEMI faster. I am not talking about the regular, nice and easy UKEMI that we often practice in Castle Rock each week. I am talking about full-force break falls or TOBI UKEMI. My husband threw me as hard as he could (at least that is how it felt to me) and I tried my best to "take" good TOBI UKEMI. Unlike our Castle Rock students, I didn't have a luxury of a spring floor or soft mats to learn on. I had to take full-force ukemi on TATAMI mats which were as firm as boards. So it really hurt when you didn't land properly. After just a few nights of this special UKEMI training, my legs were black and blue all the way from my rear end to my knees and I didn’t seem to be making all that much progress. But, then one day something changed. Everything came together at once. Suddenly TOBI UKEMI wasn't painful anymore. My body had learned how to fall properly.

Ten years later I look back and appreciate the extra training my husband gave me. It greatly allowed me to advance my Aikido training. It definitely made me more confident when I trained with high ranking black belts at outlying dojo.

If you want to speed up your Aikido training, focus on UKEMI. You will quickly see that if you can take good UKEMI, the higher rank students will want to work with you more. Your ability to take good UKEMI is often proportional to your commitment level to the art and senior students recognize that and reward it by working with you more. Aikido is team work between the NAGE (thrower) and UKE (throwee). Techniques and UKEMI are both equally important in your training.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mistakes: The Key to Speeding Up your Aikido Training

The fastest, most expedient way to learn Aikido is not to be prepared, but to make mistakes… a lot of mistakes. The more mistakes you make, the faster you will progress in your training. Our brains assign cause and effect through contrasting experiences. An improperly executed technique is contrasted with a properly executed technique. The "gap" or distance between the two experiences creates "perspective" in the brain and within that gap is where learning occurs. The more out-of-place you feel, the faster you will viscerally internalize the techniques and the lessons they contain.

If you think about it, you have probably experienced this in other areas of your life. Haven't your greatest lessons in your life been the product of mistakes more so that successes? Early 20th century success researcher, Napoleon Hill, states that the key to success in any endeavor is failure. So if you want to progress your Aikido training faster then come to class and make more mistakes! Just be sure to do so with a sense of humor and a smile!

Would you like to try Aikido? We offer a week trial for $25. This will give you the opportunity to see if you enjoy our style of Aikido training and get a chance to meet our students. Click here for the $25 Aikido class trial.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Tell Us About Your Students at Castle Rock Aikido

Audio Interview between Sean, a student at Castle Rock Aikido and one of their many Aikido instructors.

Sean: Let's get to know about your Aikido school. Who are your students? Do they all come from Castle Rock?

Sensei: We get all types of students, they come from all over the place, outside of Castle Rock – as far north as Westminster and we have two students from Colorado Springs as well.

We get all kinds of different students, working professionals, parents; we've got a couple of college students, so we have a wide variety. We tend to get students in the 30-40 range, people who are searching and looking for different things as far as self development and personal development goes.

Sean: And don't you guys have students older than that also?

Sensei: Oh yes, we've had students as old as, I think 77 in Castle Rock.

Sean: Wow. I bet a lot of people do not think of practicing martial arts in their 60's and 70's, do they?

Sensei: They probably don't but there are many students and instructors who are well into their 80's and even their 90's who have thrown me around quite well. It is definitely a martial art you can do for a lifetime.

Sean: Well that is pretty amazing. It sounds like people are willing to travel if necessary – quite a distance to come train with you guys. I think that is probably pretty unusual considering there is, in most towns, at least one martial arts school on every street corner; so the idea that people would travel, it sounds like well over an hour in some cases to come train with you guys is quiet a credit to your program.

Sensei: Well, thank you. I think people just like the whole atmosphere – it is pretty energetic and upbeat and we have a good time, so I think they are willing to drive a little bit to be a part of that.

End of this segment of the Aikido interview. To find out what students of Castle Rock Aikido are saying about their dojo and the Aikido instructors, please visit www.craikido.com

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Japanese “secret weapon” for improving your golf game.

Indoor driving ranges and putting greens are great during the winter, but what else are you doing to improve your golf game in the off-season? Relaxation, balance, center of gravity, and coordination – many would argue that these are all important components of an excellent golf game. The Japanese art of Aikido is a fantastic secret weapon to maintain and improve your golf game.

Aikido (pronounced 'eye'-'key'-'doh') is a unique form of Japanese exercise that fully engages your mind and body, providing a powerful vehicle for generating more power in your swing and improving your short game coordination. Aikido is a martial art, but can be practiced at any level of intensity according to the needs or physical capabilities of the golfer. In Aikido, there are no punches or kicks, unlike most other martial arts, so injury is extremely rare. An Aikido student learns to move their body effectively and efficiently by employing moves that at times almost look like a golf swing. These moves teach you to first evade and then off balance your partner (who is pretending to be an attacker) without harming him or her.

People of all ages practice Aikido, but it is particularly beneficial for adults. In fact, you're never too old to start practicing Aikido. Several of our instructors' teachers in Japan continue to train in their 70s and 80s! This is because Aikido builds coordination and body awareness exponentially, thus keeping the body fit and agile. Body awareness is, perhaps, one of the most essential qualities of an exceptional golf game.

During the golf season and in the off-season, Aikido helps keeps your muscles and joints strong and limber. It maintains and even improves your sense of balance and posture, which, of course, further contribute to a great golf game. Furthermore, Aikido spends a significant amount of time improving wrist health. Specific, Japanese Aikido wrist exercises maintain an ideal amount of limberness and flexibility in the wrist, which not only improves wrist strength and flexibility, but actually prevents injury on the golf course.

The art of Aikido and the art of golf have much in common. That is why Aikido can help improve your golf game. Any experienced golfer knows that the power of a golf swing derives from the hips, not from force pushed through your arms. Aikido's power also originates from the hips. Golfers know that the harder you try to hit the ball, the less distance the ball will travel. So, too, with Aikido. The harder you try to perform a technique, the less effective the technique will be. Every golfer has, at one time or another experienced their best drive and greatest distance when they weren't "trying" to hit the ball. They just did it! That was because their mind was at ease, empty and in the present (not the past or future). Every Aikido student has had the exact same experience.

Both golf and Aikido require your complete and undivided attention. Many have likened golf to the Japanese concept of Zen. This deliberate attention to the present moment in a golf game actually creates stress relief and may, in fact, partly account for the almost addictive quality of golf that many people experience. In addition to providing stress relief and a clear state of mind, it has the added benefit of being quite cardiovascular. So you de-stress and stay strong and fit over the winter at the same time.

In Japanese, Aikido translates as "the way of harmony." It is meant to convey the notion that through the constant quest for self-perfection and/or harmony we can achieve great success in our lives. Many of the great golfers have expressed that the constant striving toward perfection or self-mastery is one of the things that attracts them most to the game of golf. If you share this sentiment, then you will particularly love practicing the art of Aikido, especially when you see your handicap drop.

Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for dramatically improving your golf game. We invite you to come try a class at our Aikido school in Castle Rock, Colorado for free. Visit us at www.CRaikido.com or call us at 720-221-3665.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yakusokugeko – The Proper Roles of Uke and Nage

Since Aikido is about avoiding struggle and performing a technique with the least amount of effort, we must consider our roles as both Uke and Nage.

As Nage, first and foremost, it is our responsibility to protect Uke. If there is resistance, if one is off balance or if the technique just is not going as it should, just relax, slow down and find your "way." Aikido is about power - an inner power - rather than force. Try not to force a technique. As Nage it is our responsibility to smoothly establish and maintain a connection with Uke throughout each technique.

As Uke it is our responsibility to provide a realistic attack (but not overly aggressive), and then move our bodies in relationship to Nage's movement so as to be in the safest position possible, while maintaining a sense of connection.

Grabs by Uke should be firm, but not rigid. The hand and wrist will be used to control whatever is being grabbed. The rest of the body should remain loose and able to adapt to the situation.
Strikes by Uke should have good extension, without locking out your own joints. Locking out joint can lead to injuries. Always try to keep some bend in the elbows, and give about 95% of your full energy. You do not want to over commit and not be able to react.

The loss of connection is an opportunity for either Uke or Nage to commence a new attack. Therefore, maintaining the connection is of the utmost importance.

Remember, you take ukemi to avoid injury only. Uke must be able to respond appropriately to the situation. This requires much training and introspection as how to do this best.

"Free of weakness ignore the sharp attacks of your enemies: Step in and act!"
– Morihei Ueshiba

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Unique Japanese Exercise Provides Stress Relief to Castle Rock!

There is a great new form of stress relief available in Castle Rock. It's called Aikido (pronounced 'eye'-'key'-do'). Aikido is a unique form of Japanese exercise that fully engages your mind and body providing an excellent outlet for stress relief. Aikido is a martial art, but can be practiced at any level of intensity according to the needs or physical capabilities of the student. Unlike most martial arts, there are no punches or kicks in Aikido so injury is extremely rare. A student learns to move their body effectively and efficiently by employing almost dance-like moves that first evade and then off balance their partner (who is pretending to be an attacker) without injuring him or her. In addition to providing stress relief and a clear state of mind, it has the added benefit of being quite cardiovascular. So you de-stress and get fit at the same time.
People of all ages practice Aikido, but it is particularly beneficial for adults. In fact, you’re never too old to start practicing Aikido. Several of our instructors’ teachers in Japan continue to train in their 70s and 80s!

Lose yourself for an hour or so one, two or three times per week by engaging in this fun Japanese exercise that requires your complete and undivided attention. We promise you that when you’re practicing Aikido you won't be able to think about anything else. You won't be thinking about what went wrong at work yesterday, what you didn't get done at home today, or what you have to do tomorrow. You will just be at Aikido, in the present, with an empty mind. This is what produces stress-relief and relaxation - a mind and body that are fully living in the present, not the past and not the future. Everyone, at one time or another, needs to hold their awareness in the present. In fact, many experts and philosophers have suggested that that is all stress really is: the product of living in the past, future or both simultaneously at the expense of living in the present. Aikido lowers stress by engaging your entire being. It also teaches you how to breathe properly during times of stress.

Exercising on gym machines like treadmills or elliptical trainers doesn't necessarily relieve stress because although you may be exercising, your brain is still free to think about and focus on all the things that stress you out each day. When you're practicing Aikido, you can't think of anything else but the present. The hour just flies by and you’re left with a satisfying physical and psychological sensation that leaves you wanting more.

Classes are held weekday evenings in Castle Rock to accommodate working adults. We have several married couples who practice together. Parents who both want to de-stress through Aikido can take turns by alternating which nights of the week each attends Aikido class. Or, get a friend, neighbor or relative to watch the kids and come together.

If you don-t live in Castle Rock, don't let that stop you. About half of our students come from as far north as Westminster and as far south as Colorado Springs. Why? It’s because our program is that good at relieving stress and because it is so much fun. "Aikido is my meditation," says Sue, a resident of Colorado Springs who commutes to Castle Rock to practice Aikido, "and I always feel great after class because it helps me shake off daily stresses. It is a wonderful [program] with a great vibe... I couldn't have asked for anything better."

Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for breaking stress in your life. We invite you to come try a class at our Aikido school in Castle Rock for free. Visit us at www.CRaikido.com or call us at 720-221-3665.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

New & Fun Form of Adult Fitness in Castle Rock!

Here's a reality of life when it comes to exercise; "If it’s boring, you won't do it. Period!" Most people know they should exercise more, but most people simply don't. This not necessarily because they don't want to be in better shape, but because so many popular kinds of exercises and fitness routines are utterly boring! If you're bored of endlessly walking on treadmills or elliptical trainers at the gym while watching overly-violent news broadcasts; or if you've tried yoga and Pilates but find them painfully slow, then I have a suggestion for you. Come try Aikido!
Aikido, pronounced 'eye'-'key'-'doh', is a unique Japanese exercise that engages your entire body in a really fun and entertaining way. Aikido is a martial art, but can be practiced at any level of intensity according to the needs or physical capabilities of the student. Unlike most martial arts, there are no punches or kicks in Aikido so injury is extremely rare. You learn to move their body effectively and efficiently by employing almost dance-like moves that first evade and then off balance your partner (who is pretending to be an attacker) without injuring him or her.

People of all ages practice Aikido, but it is particularly beneficial for adults. In fact, you're never too old to start practicing Aikido. Several of our instructors' teachers in Japan continue to train in their 70s and 80s! Many former martial arts student once again take up Aikido as they enter their 40s and 50s because Aikido is much easier on your body than other more well-known martial arts like Karate and Taekwondo. Most of all, Aikido is fun! Every class is different, so you don't get bored. Every technique requires your complete and undivided attention, so you can't "zone out." One of the most common things we hear is, "Wow! The time just flew by. I can't believe it is over so quickly!" Also, Aikido can be a great cardiovascular workout for the body… but there is a good chance that you won't even notice that until you are done with class! Instead of feeling exhausted after a class, most people feel exhilarated. One of our students, Doug, a 55 year-old Castle Rock resident, has lost 35 pounds since April when he first started practicing Aikido!

Many people have more energy, not less, after Aikido class. The reason why is because when you practice less fun forms of exercise, that don't simultaneously engage your brain, time seems to move much… much… slower. However, Aikido requires you to focus constantly on what you are doing so much that time flies by! Aikido is so engaging to your body and to your mind, that there is a synergistic energy created between the two that absolutely reinvigorates you. Somewhat paradoxically, you are also left in relaxed, tranquil state when you're done.

Classes are held weekday evenings in Castle Rock to accommodate working adults. If you don't live in Castle Rock, hey, no problem! About half of our students come from outside Castle Rock. Some drive from as far north as Westminster and as far south as Colorado Springs to come practice Aikido with us. Our instructors and programs are so good that people are willing to travel, if necessary. It's just that much fun!

Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for getting you moving and in to shape without boring you to death. We invite you to come try a class in Castle Rock for free. Visit us at http://www.craikido.com/ or call us at 720-221-3665.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba

Morihei Ueshiba was one of history's greatest martial artists. Even at age eighty, he could disarm any foe, down any number of attackers, and even pin an opponent with a single finger. Although virtually invincible as a warrior, he was, above all, a man of peace who detested fighting, war and any kind of violence. His way was that of Aikido, "the art of peace." He is referred to as O Sensei, "the great teacher."

Morihei Ueshiba spent his youth and early adulthood training under a variety of sword and Jujutsu masters. As he grew older he experienced increasing disquiet stemming, in part, from his rather violent youth, feeling that training for the sake of winning was not enough. One day, after a long, arduous period of training and meditation, he came to recognize an innate understanding that the true purpose of the martial arts was to be the promotion of universal peace and love. He saw that the ideal victory was a conflict resolved without winner or loser. He began to change his martial techniques and practices he had learned throughout his life to align his art with his new understanding. This led to the formal development of Aikido.

"In Aikido, we never attack. An attack is proof that one is out of control. Never run away from any kind of challenge, but do not try to suppress or control an opponent unnaturally. Let attackers come any way they like and then blend with them. Never chase after opponents. Redirect each attack and get firmly behind it."
– Morihei Ueshiba

Castle Rock Aikido is a traditional, Japanese Aikido martial arts school in Castle Rock, Colorado located just 20 minutes south of Denver Metro and only 30 minutes north of Colorado Springs.
Visit www.craikido.com to get a coupon for a free class.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Natural Movement & Philosophy - A Wholistic Exercise

The Philosophy of Aikido

Much like a hurricane, tornado or tidal wave, the forces found in nature are efficient, rational, and soft, while the center is immovable, firm, and stable. Of course, these forces may not seem rational or soft relative to human experience, but relative to itself, these forces are perfectly balanced. This principle of a firm center and a soft, adaptable periphery is universally consistent -- and must be true for each person, as well. The culmination of Aikido is expressed by aligning one's own center with the center expressed throughout nature. One becomes "resilient" inside, yet this strength is expressed softly and powerfully.

The movements of Aikido maintain this firm and stable center simultaneously emphasizing spherical rotation characterized by flowing, circular motions. These pivoting, entering and circling motions are used to blend with, to control and to overcome an opponent. The principle of spherical rotation makes it possible to defend one’s self from an opponent of superior size, strength and experience.

Although Aikido movements are soft, logical and smooth, as are those found in nature, by applying a bit of force, these techniques can be devastatingly effective. The gentle quality of Aikido makes it appealing to many people. It not only provides excellent exercise and teaches proper etiquette and self-control, but for some it also offers spiritual growth and evolution.

Many people are surprised when they find out that half of our students are over 40 years old. One reason could be because of the way Aikido blends natural movement with practical life philosophy. Castle Rock Aikido is a Japanese martial art school. Visit http://www.craikido.com/ for a coupon for a free class.

Read our story "Residents Over 50 Taking Up Martial Arts"

Monday, October 22, 2007

Castle Rock AIKIDO's Mission Statement

It is the mission of Castle Rock AIKIDO "to forge in our students a strength of character so strong, that conflict becomes unnecessary." Many assume that the "conflict" we refer to in our mission statement is physical conflict such as fighting with others. However, the conflict we mean to emphasize is inner conflict - the mental, emotional and even spiritual conflict most of us struggle within each and every day. Through the practice of Aikido we discover within ourselves a physical path to self-mastery…

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Aikido Video Clip - Using Bokken

Getting Centered with Aikido (Expansion Part 5)

"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 endeavor."
- Morihei Ueshiba

Aikido teaches us to move, feel and, to some extent, think from our center or what the Japanese call our "hara." It is the place that we are strongest. It is the origin of our power. Our core is where we are eternally abundant. Physiologically, our core is our viscera our gut and it is where our real strength comes from. Many think big muscles are where strength comes from. However, big muscles don't work if the lungs and heart aren't strong enough to pump blood to those big muscles.

Fear produces a neurological response in the body call "fight or flight." This is also known as a sympathetic response. During a fight or flight response blood is shunted away from the internal organs - the hara – and, instead, goes to the muscles of the arms and legs for fighting. Therefore, the body actually loses core body strength. But ironically, a fight or flight response produces only a very short-term bout of strength. In the long run, flight or fight responses exhausts the body faster and actually weakens one’s core strength considerably.

In Aikido, we train to create the very opposite of a fight or flight response. Our goal is to create a relaxation response – or a parasympathetic response. The power of all Aikido techniques derives from one’s ability to relax (expansion), not to tense up (contraction). Physiologically, relaxation responses produce the exact opposite of a fight or flight response. In a relaxation response, blood shunts away from the muscles of the arms and legs and brings it back to our hara. This is exactly what happens when one takes a nap or eats food. A state of warmth, comfort and relaxation is produced. Warmth is an attribute of expansion, while cold is an attribute of contraction. Contrary to what most people think, the key to strength in Aikido is a product of relaxation responses like those produced while meditating. That is also why, for many people, Aikido is a moving meditation. Aikido, when practiced dynamically, produces the same physiologic responses and mental, emotional and spiritual benefits as meditation and meditation-like practices such as yoga and tai chi.

This expansive, relaxation response may seem counter-intuitive to many. However it is essential that the Aikido student embrace his or her surroundings and circumstances (a form of expansion) in order to practice effectively. Through training, one can learn to look at attacks, such as shomenuchi or even a tsuki, not merely as an attack against us but rather an opportunity to create a new expansive experience. If we perceive an attack as an opportunity to create and to reconnect, we can relax and become one with our environment which would include the incoming attack. From this expansive, relaxed state we can create a physical connection with our Aikido partner/attacker, which ultimately holds the potential to alter their intent of aggression. It provides for the opportunity for oneness… even friendship.

On the other hand, if we perceive our Aikido partner/attacker as something separate from us, we tend to contract. When we dissociate from our environment in both a psychological and physiological way, our muscles grow tighter and we either over-breathe or under-breathe. This causes constricted blood vessels in the brain. This, of course, changes blood and other fluid pressures in the body and ultimately does not allow for oxygen or glucose to be adequately fed to the brain. In short, we don’t think straight lose control of ourselves and, of course, our technique suffers.

Aikido is always challenging to describe in writing because the experience of Aikido transcends the written word. Aikido is meant to be experienced firsthand, not read about. The practice of Aikido represents an opportunity for transcendence on physical, mental and even spiritual levels of existence. Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for tremendous growth and expansion in your life. We invite you to come try a class at our Aikido school in Castle Rock, Colorado for free.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Aikido & Abundance (Expansion Part 4)

"If your opponent strikes with fire, counter with water, becoming completely fluid and free-flowing. Water, by its nature, never collides with or breaks against anything. On the contrary, it swallows up any attack harmlessly."
– Morihei Ueshiba

As we learned in Part Two of this article on expansion, Aikido is so much more than just a martial art. It is a whole way of life. Indeed, those who practice Aikido quickly learn that it is, in fact, a microcosmic arena for life. When regular daily problems at home or at work come up most people do the same thing as most martial arts teach. They push back, contract, shrink – they shift into a defensive posture. Sometimes they contract into adverse behaviors like excessive television watching, alcohol or overeating. Others contract by complaining, gossiping, hiding or ignoring their predicament. Aikido teaches us to address our challenges differently.

Is expansion a natural response? Think of how a muscle grows. When muscles are exercised, the muscle fibers are broken down (contraction), but then life responds not by shrinking the muscle, but instead the muscle fibers grow back stronger, bigger (expansion). The result is a net gain in growth, not a net loss.

Look at other forms of nature. What do most flowers do when the sun shines upon them? Do they expand or contract? Most expand in the warmth of the sun and then contract at night when the air cools. Look to the Universe. Is it expanding or contracting? Most astrophysicists agree that the Universe is in an expansive state. You’re part of the Universe too. Don’t you think that you are meant to be expansive, as well?

If you think about it, Aikido is a philosophy more resonant with life than many other martial art styles. Life is about growing, not shrinking; about expanding, not contracting. And, yes, while it is true that everything in life (physiology included) contains both reciprocal qualities (similar to the Taoist concepts of yin and yang) a balance between the two should not necessarily be the desired outcome. For example, most people would be upset if their monthly expenses and monthly income were in balance to one another because that would suggest that they were not gaining financially; that they were not saving. They were staying at zero. Balance implies the same on both sides. Balance means zero. Zero in physiology means dead. Only a corpse is "balanced." Instead, the desired outcome between expansion and contraction should be a net gain in expansion. Some might say that life, itself, is about expansion. Aikido is about expansion. Therefore, Aikido is about life.

Life is designed to be abundant, to be expansive. Why contract? Think about it. Has contraction really ever served you in the past? Aikido teaches people to grow, to expand when faced with challenge. If you don’t believe that life is meant to be abundant, then you need to discover Aikido and make that discovery. Come find out why Castle Rock AIKIDO may be a great place for you to discover your physical path to self-mastery.

Looking for an Aikido dojo?
Castle Rock Aikido is turing out to be an alternative to Denver martial art schools. That is because we are located just 20 minutes south of Denver Metro. We have several Denver Aikido students who commute from the heart of Denver to our dojo.

Come try a class for free and see why we were voted "Best in Castle Rock for martial arts, 2007" by Castle Rock Magazine. Call 720-221-3665 to get your coupon for a free class. See map to Castle Rock Aikido. Visit http://www.craikido.com/ to watch an Aikido video.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reprogramming Inborn Reflexes - Aikido (Expansion Part 3)

"When an opponent comes forward, move in and greet him;
if he wants to pull back, send him on his way."
– Morihei Ueshiba

Aikido challenges us to evolve beyond primitive, instinctual survival mechanisms and reflexes that are taught in so many other forms of martial arts. For example, many Aikido students ask, "Why does Aikido take so long to master?" This is a valid question because Aikido does, in many cases, take much longer to master than other martial arts. In Aikido, we strive inwardly for self-perfection by training ourselves to utilize higher levels in the brain; to reprogram seemingly-contradictory, yet ironically, more sophisticated levels of thinking, non-thinking and other societally-conditioned responses into our unconscious mind.

An Aikido student must learn to break inborn reflexes that are culturally reinforced by society and replace those reflexes with new ones. When someone pulls us, we usually automatically respond by pulling back in the opposite direction. Similarly, when someone pushes us, we push back, again, in the opposite direction. This natural response is both an inborn reflex and is also culturally reinforced into us. This is a primitive reflex based on responding to fear or threat. Aikido teaches us to react not with primitive reflexes, but with higher levels of response. This retraining of the brain can have a long learning curve for students especially if you don’t begin to train Aikido until adulthood.

In stark contract to many martial arts, in Aikido we push when pulled at in the same direction of the attack. Similarly, when pushed we pull, again, in the same direction of the attack. This reprogramming of our nervous system's automated responses is challenging to learn, difficult to master and difficult to make automatic in our reflexes. Only through years of repetition in Aikido practice do we learn to break the primitive, conditioned responses of pull/pull and push/push and replace them with the expansive, higher level Aikido responses of push/pull and pull/push.

Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for tremendous growth and expansion in your life. Surprisingly, we have several Denver Aikido students. These students travel to our martial arts school in Castle Rock, Colorado because our instructors have integrity, advanced Aikido training and our classes are all adults.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Expansion Part 2: Aikido & Budo

"True budo calls for bringing the inner energy of the Universe in order, protecting the peace of the world as well as preserving everything in nature in its right form."
– Morihei Ueshiba

The novice martial artist sees martial arts merely as a fighting system – a means of self-defense. He understands only one-dimension of the word "martial." Martial, in the strictest sense of the word, means "associated with war." Therefore, to the novice martial artist, martial only means "the art of war" or "the art of fighting." For them, that is where the meaning stops. There is no evolution. There is no more growth. The master martial artist, on the other hand, understands this rudimentary definition of "martial" and expands it.

The master martial artist recognizes the inherent responsibilities of the martial arts and ultimately adopts the concept of budo or martial way into his or her life. The martial way is very different from that of martial combat. For example, the term budo is made up of the Japanese characters (or kanji) "bu" meaning martial and "do" meaning path. The characters of the kanji for "bu" or martial is actually made up of two symbols. The first symbol is a set of crossed weapons or halberds. The second symbol is the Japanese character for "stop." So, interestingly enough, in Japanese kanji, the character for bu doesn't mean "fighting," but somewhat paradoxically, actually reads "to stop fighting" or "to prevent fighting." Therefore, budo really translates as "the way to prevent fighting." This is congruent with the underlying message of the art of Aikido – the way of harmony. But truly, we have only scratched the surface of what budo really means. A comprehensive understanding of the term budo is a lifelong journey and can only be gained by thoroughly studying Japanese language and culture.

So, you'll notice that bushi-DO, bu-DO and Aiki-DO all end with the word "do." The word "do" is often used when a martial art is intended to be applied to other areas of life and is practiced as a way of life, not solely as a combat style. The master martial artist lives budo. He or she not only learns how to hurt, maim or kill, but also to recognize and value the wisdom of when to use one's martial arts skill and when not to. The master martial artist understands the responsibilities of budo and how to apply his or her martial art in non-martial, everyday experiences. Those responsibilities of budo expand beyond just the survival of one's self and apply to family, community, society and the world at large.

Japanese martial arts that limit their instruction to combat applications are often suffixed with the word "jutsu," which usually means "martial science." Such sciences include kenjutsu or aikijutsu. Therefore, all forms of budo are martial arts, but not all martial arts are budo. Aikido is a form of budo – a way of life, not just a self-defense system. Budo can be practiced at all times. It can be practiced when driving a car in heavy traffic, when dealing with misbehaving children, or when dealing with disruptive colleagues at work. Everything can be practiced the martial way – with a spirit of budo. Everyone can practice the expansive principle of Aikido in every arena of life.

As you can see, the art of Aikido is more than just a martial art. Aikido is a way of life; a philosophy practiced as a moving meditation of life. It is an art that holds the potential to outright challenge our humanity.

Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for tremendous growth and expansion in your life. We invite you to come try a class at our Aikido school in Castle Rock, Colorado for free.

Read Expansion Part 1: Aikido & Self-defense

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Expansion Part 1: Aikido & Self-defense

"A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind."
- Morihei Ueshiba

When most people think of "martial arts" one of the first things that to come to mind is the idea of "self-defense." When I think of someone defending themselves I tend to think of some one contracting, closing up, or hunkering down into a defensive stance. I also think the word defense represents a reaction to fear. Fear is always a function of contraction and is often met with defensive-oriented actions such as scratching, clawing, punching and kicking. Of course, there isn't anything wrong with these actions. There may be times in life when these become necessary. At other times, like in social environments, this lashing out may not necessarily take the form of physical strikes but, instead, may manifest as unnecessary, insensitive or sometimes even rude verbal attacks, glares or gestures.

The art of Japanese Aikido is a martial art like many others. However, the organizing principle of Aikido is radically different from most. While the majority of martial arts are based on the principle of contraction, Aikido is rooted in the principle of expansion. Expansion, not contraction, is the source of Aikido's power. As a general rule, Aikido tends to be very much the opposite of what most people imagine when they think of martial arts. For example, if you think martial arts are about self-defense, then you should know that Aikido is more about self-development. If you think martial arts is about protecting, then you should know that Aikido is more about growing. If you think martial arts is about learning how to hurt people, then you should know that Aikido is more about learning how not to hurt people. If you think martial arts are about fighting, then you should know that Aikido is more about not fighting.

In Aikido, when faced with a challenge or an attack we expand, not contract. Our posture, our stance and overall physical response gets bigger, not smaller. In Aikido, we address problems, challenges and attacks not by covering our heads with our arms and curling up into a ball, but by drowning the attack with giant, expansive waves of Aikido that engulf aggressors, much like a tsunami.

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, was a man of small stature - not more than five foot three. However, he did not defend himself by dropping to the ground, covering his head and kicking fiercely. Instead, Osensei (or "great teacher" as we refer to him) conquered each attacker he faced by expanding his stature, energy and power; by opening up instead of closing down.

In my experience, contracting into a defensive, protective posture rarely can solve problems of any kind. That's one of many reasons why I most prefer Aikido to the many other martial arts I have trained in the past. In Aikido we learn to grow in the face of a threat, instead of crouch; to dwarf our problems and challenges by becoming more than we were before, not less. That is how we train to address challenges; by growing so much so that we actually "push out" adversity through an abundance of movement or action.

Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for tremendous growth and expansion in your life. We invite you to come try a class at our Aikido school in Castle Rock, Colorado for free.
Visit http://www.craikido.com/ to watch an Aikido video.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"True Victory is Self-Victory" Aikido Explained

"True victory is self-victory."
– Morihei Ueshiba

Aikido is a powerful martial art developed throughout the mid 20th century by a Japanese named Morihei Ueshiba. Aikido differs from most other martial arts in that the practitioner seeks to achieve self-defense without injury to attackers. Furthermore, there are no tournaments or sport applications in Aikido. Therefore, Aikido is non-competitive.

Generally speaking, Aikido is most often practiced with a partner where one person functions as an attacker and the other person practices defensive Aikido techniques. About half of the techniques involve joint locks which enable the "attacker" to be moved to a pinning position where they can be held without injury. Other techniques involve throwing the partner. An Aikido student spends much time learning how to fall safely. Proper falling is a fundamental component to the practice of Aikido.

The basic movements of Aikido are circular in nature. Most attacks are linear. An Aikido student harmonizes with, rather than confronts the linear attack and converts the energy of that linear attack into a circular energy that, ultimately, renders the attacker or attackers helpless.

Instead of using potentially crippling kicks or punches, the Aikido student trains to apply various wristlocks, arm pins, or unbalancing throws to neutralize aggressors without injury. Aikido is a 100% defensive martial art. The so-called "attacks" taught in Aikido are merely for purposes of learning to defend against those attacks rather than for the purpose of injuring an opponent.

Spectators often describe Aikido as looking very dance-like. This quality is essential to the safe and effective practice of Aikido. Aikido’s techniques can be so devastating that if the two Aikido practitioners do not harmonize their respective movements with such a dance-like quality carefully, injury could easily occur. Students quickly discover that the strength of Aikido lay not in muscular force, but in flexibility, timing, control, and modesty.

Watching two experienced Aikido students or masters practice together can be an awesome site. An acute observer will notice a distinct, but subtle harmonizing energy forged between the two of them. This harmonizing energy, or connection, is highly sought after by Aikido practitioners and, when experienced, has the potential to transform the lives of Aikido participants. This transformation takes place not only in one’s ability to defend oneself physically, but also in every other aspect of one’s life. The uniqueness of Aikido makes it possible to experience deep levels of mental relaxation, emotional calmness, acute concentration and peak physical fitness in our daily lives. Aikido is the education and refinement of the spirit.

Do you want to find an Aikido school?

Castle Rock Aikido is a Denver metro martial art school.
Located just 20 minutes south of Denver Metro and 30 minutes north of Colorado Springs, Castle Rock Aikido attracts martial art students from surrounding areas including Denver, Aurora, Parker, Highlands Ranch, Colorado Springs, Larkspur, and Franktown.

The convenience and our quality aikido instruction make the trip worthwhile. Come try a class for free and see why we were voted "Best in Castle Rock for martial arts, 2007" by Castle Rock Magazine. Visit http://www.craikido.com/ to get a coupon for a free class.
See map to Castle Rock Aikido.
Visit http://www.craikido.com/ to watch an aikido video.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dojo Etiquette and Lexicon "Onegaishimasu""

"Onegaishimasu" (pronounced 'oh-nay-guy-she-mas') is a common phrase you will hear and use repeatedly during Aikido class. In Aikido class, it is a polite way of asking to work with and recognizing a new training partner to practice a technique.

When you are done practicing a technique or working with a training partner, you would say, "Arigato Gozaimashita" (pronouced 'ar-ee-ga-toe go-za-ee-ma-she-ta' ), which is just a polite way of saying thank you.

At Castle Rock Aikido, we focus on quality, traditional Aikido instruction. If you live in the South Denver metro area, Parker, and even Colorado Springs, we invite you to see if our Aikido class is right for you. Visit http://www.craikido.com/ to receive a coupon for a free class.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Men's "center" vs. Women's "center" in Aikido Practice: A Student's Observation by Sean Hannon

It seems to me that there are substantially more men who practice Aikido than women. However, I have observed that women who practice Aikido tend to pick up the subtleties of Aikido's techniques a bit faster than men do. I always wondered why that was? Is it possible that women have a physiologic affinity for Aikido? What might that affinity be?

While in grad school, the answer to that question came to me one day in a biomechanics class. It appears there may be a very logical, physics-based answer to my inqury. In Aikido, the power of each technique originates from the hips and pelvic area, not from the hands and arms as so many young Aikido students think. Most men tend to carry their gravitational center in their chest. As such, they also tend to carry their psychological center in their chest. I think it explains why there exists the Hollywood "broad-chested" male hero archetype. Just look at any male comic book or cartoon hero and what do you see? Usually it is an overdeveloped chest and a square jaw. The chest, for men, seems to be the anatomic symbol of strength, pride, courage and bravado. Unfortunately, for men, when their "center" is located in their chest, they may look strong, but more often than not they are actually quite unbalanced and therefore, vulnerable.

For women, their anatomical center or "hara," as the Japanese call it, is located about two inches below their naval. A woman's physical center rests just on top of the pelvic girdle and as such, like a pyramid, their gravitational foundation is often superior to that of most men. Perhaps because women bare children, women tend to be more intuitively in touch with their hara - their physical and psychological center. And, again, since the hips are where the power of Aikido's techniques come from, that may explain why so many women seem to pick up on the subtleties of Aikido somewhat faster than men do.

That is not to say that men cannot be exceptional Aikidoist. They can. It is just that those who have mastered Aikido to one degree or another have learned to "drop" their center from their chest to their hips. What most men do not realize is that their chest center is more of a psychological phenomenon than it is a physical phenomenon. I believe the "dropping" of one's center from their chest to their hips is largely analogous to their ability to "drop" their ego from the equation especially when practicing Aikido. That is, the more a man can "get out of his head" and drop his awareness from his chest to his hips, the more powerful their Aikido techniques can become, and ironically, the less energy they will expend in executing those Aikido techniques.

Thoughts and comments on this post are welcome.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Watch the Show "Human Weapon"

Last weekend I caught a great new show called "Human Weapon." It airs on the History Channel. The series thoroughly explores a unique martial art style on each episode. The co-hosts, Jason Chambers and Bill Duff travel to the country of origin of that week's featured martial art and they experience an intense crash course in that art.

I've only caught one episode so far, but I'm really impressed. Last weekend I watched an episode, which
featured Judo. The hosts visited several highly respected and well-known judo schools in Japan including one in the high, rugged mountains of Japan where some exceptionally rigorous training occurs. A lot of time was spent exploring the origins of the art of judo, which paradoxically means "gentle way." Today's sport judo is apparently the evolution of historic Samurai hand-to-hand combat. Of course, much of Aikido also originated from samurai techniques.

I'm not aware of any judo schools in Castle Rock, Colorado so if you're looking for a martial art that has traditions and origins rooted in feudal Japan, you may find that Castle Rock Aikido suits you. In Aikido class we practice hand-to-hand combat moves that historically were only performed with a traditional samurai sword. I really hope a future episode of Human Weapon will feature the art of Aikido. I think people would find an Aikido feature fascinating and radically different from so many of the other martial arts on the show. If they do run a feature on Aikido, I'd definitely purchase that episode off of the History Channels web site. I highly recommend that Castle Rock Aikido students watch Human Weapon, which airs on Friday evenings at 7pm on the History Channel (channel 41 if you're on Denver Metro's Comcast cable network). It'll give you a great perspective on the various type of martial arts around the world.

Do you want to find a martial art with traditional samurai training?
Castle Rock Aikido is a Denver metro martial art school. Located just 20 minutes south of Denver Metro and 30 minutes north of Colorado Springs,
Castle Rock Aikido attracts martial art students from surrounding areas including Denver, Aurora, Parker, Highlands Ranch, Colorado Springs, Larkspur, and Franktown. The convenience and our quality aikido instruction make the trip worthwhile. Come try a class for free and see why we were voted "Best in Castle Rock for martial arts, 2007" by Castle Rock Magazine. Call 720-221-3665 to get your coupon for a free class. See map to Castle Rock Aikido. Visit http://www.craikido.com/ to see samurai sword videos.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hiking Mountains and Practicing Aikido Prepare One for the Ups and Downs in Life

Hiking Sasaguri Shikoku is a famous trek started by the Buddhist Monk, Kobo Daishi, which makes its way in a circle to 88 spiritual sites. The most famous of these treks is on the island of Shikoku, thus the name Sasaguri Shikoku. Sasaguri is a mountainous region just between Fukuoka and Kitakyushu on the Southern island of Kyushu.
This type of Shugyo, or forging of the spirit, is not as common among youngsters of today and this type of training can come in handy in preparing for the the ups and downs in daily life.
If you would like to learn more about the ancient pilgrimage, Sasaguri Shikiku, click here.

To understand how the principles of Shugyo can help you manage the ups and downs of life, click here.

It is the application of the principles of Aikido in daily life that is most valuable. I invite you all to come try an Aikido class for free at our Japanese martial arts school in Castle Rock, Colorado. It is an art, a practice and a discipline that will truly change your life. Call us at 720-221-3665 or visit our web site: www.CRaikido.com Castle Rock Aikido is perfect for people in Denver or Colorado Springs looking for a martial art. We are conveniently located 20 minutes south of Denver Metro and 30 minutes north of Colorado Springs.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Strongest Technique in Aikido

What is the strongest technique in the martial art of Aikido? I'll bet that every Aikido student has thought of this question at least once. We learn many different techniques in our Aikido practice, but which one is the strongest? The first technique? The forth? An arm bar? Wrist lock? Or maybe, a hip throw? To help answer this question, I'd like to share one of my favorite stories about Aikido.

One curious student asks his master this question, "Sensei, what is the strongest technique in Aikido?" The master responds, "The greatest technique in Aikido is the ability to become friends with the one who attacked you."

I believe this is the essence of Aikido. Aikido is often translated as "the art of harmony," and that is why an Aikido dojo has such a different feeling to it than many other kinds of martial arts schools. Through Aikido, we learn to create harmony... not conflict. It is a great feeling to recognize that we can choose to be harmonious with any given situation, rather than constantly fight it. Aikido helps us embrace this awareness.
It is the application of the principles of Aikido in daily life that is most valuable. Sasaki Sensei (one of our Aikido teachers in Japan) once said that, "Aikido practice is your daily life, or vice versa." If you cannot make it to the dojo to train physically, think of how you can practice Aikido techniques with your co-workers. Perhaps verbally, one can fend off an "attack" and redirect it toward the betterment of the relationship with your co-worker, the company and society as a whole. This is the technique I try to perfect on a daily basis. I believe this is the ultimate technique, the ultimate purpose of Aikido training.

I invite you all to come try an Aikido class for free at our Japanese martial arts school in Castle Rock, Colorado. It is an art, a practice and a discipline that will truly change your life. Call us at 720-221-3665 or visit our web site: www.CRaikido.com Castle Rock Aikido is perfect for people in Denver or Colorado Springs looking for a martial art. We are conveniently located 20 minutes south of Denver Metro and 30 minutes north of Colorado Springs.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

School Offer Martial Arts with a Twist: No Pain!

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.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Castle Rock Colorado Residents Over 50 Taking Up Martial Arts

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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

NEW Blog feature on Castle Rock Aikido!!!

Hi everyone!

This blog will serve at an interactive venue for Castle Rock AIKIDO & IAIDO students, prospective students, visitors and guest. It will also serve as a means for the instructors to share philosophical perspectives about Aikido and martial arts and/or to answer questions posed by visitors to this blog. You are more than welcome to post your own comments, questions, essays, and opinions. Enjoy!

Dojo Cho