Thursday, April 24, 2008

Castle Rock Aikido Martial Art Student Profile

April 2008 Castle Rock AIKIDO Student of the Month

Michael Kilman studies Cultural Anthropology at Metro State University in Denver. When he's not deep in the books, Michael is an Intuitive Life Coach who helps others to find a sense of peace in their lives. He also works part-time as a freelance videographer. He's been training at Castle Rock AIKIDO since last summer. Michael grew up in Philadelphia, had a short stint in Portland, Oregon, and have lived in Castle Rock for 11 years.

Michael, what are some of your hobbies in addition to Aikido?
"I spend a lot of time reading and meditating. I like to be in the outdoors and especially love the ocean, even though I live in Colorado. I like hiking and playing with my two young children, Francis and Gabriella."

What other martial arts have you trained?

"I trained briefly at an Aiki-Jujitsu, but I feel much more at home at Castle Rock AIKIDO. Even though my other teachers were great, I always felt like there was something missing, and Castle Rock AIKIDO is really like a big family. Everyone is wonderfully accepting of each other and is there to help each other learn and grown on a personal level, not just a martial arts level."

What do you like best about Aikido?

"Aikido is very similar to what I do with people on a daily basis. Aikido teaches you to stop and think about how you deal with conflict. It lets you step outside of yourself for a moment and see not only how you could try to do the technique differently, but how to deal with other aspects of your life differently. It works hand in hand perfectly with the transformational meditation that I do everyday. I think Aikido also teaches a person to remain calm in stressful situations and that, itself, can be an extremely valuable tool."

Why did you select Aikido as opposed to other martial art styles?
"I was told that Aikido was a more spiritual path; that it was a path of personal growth and change. After some research, I discovered that it was perfectly aligned with my goals as a person. I think Aikido helps me to be more well-rounded and it is nice to have a physical path towards spiritual growth. I think people often associate spirituality with the non-physical, but Aikido is proof that spiritual growth can be a very physical path! I feel my mind and body grow in harmony with one another, and I feel that the contrasting teaching styles of Castle Rock AIKIDO really push that harmony along. Additionally, since I have started Aikido I have changed my whole attitude on physical health for the better."

Why do you think others should practice Aikido?

"I think anyone who is interested on trying to make positive changes in their life should at least try Aikido as one means toward achieving that change. Aikido presents us with a rare opportunity; one we don't normally have in our society. It gives us an open place to explore and attempt personal change with the support of two wonderful teachers who are willing to go above and beyond the simple title of "teacher." It is very difficult to find such an environment that fosters this kind of tremendous personal change and growth. Castle Rock AIKIDO is definitively the place to do just that."

Anything else you'd like to offer about your experience at Castle Rock AIKIDO?

"I think we should recognize how important it is to learn to blend with and redirect conflict. Be it internal or external, there is conflict all around us. Aikido is a tool we can use to address conflict and to try to look at it from another perspective. Conflict is a part of life, and if you learn how to deal with it in a calm, rational manner many obstacles that life presents us with can become non-existent. Sometimes, when the sun shines on an object from a different direction, the image appears to change entirely. Similarly, Aikido helps me to look at my life in a different way, and many of my problems seem virtually non-existent."

Learn more about Michael's Intuitive Life Coaching services at:

We are blessed with a great group of students at Castle Rock AIKIDO. We welcome you to come and meet them and our teachers. You can even try a class for free. Visit for more information.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Castle Rock AIKIDO Expands Schedule to Four Days a Week

We added A FOURTH evening per week to practice AIKIDO on April 10th!

Because you asked for it! We have decided to add a 4th evening per week to the Castle Rock AIKIDO training schedule.

On April 10th, 2008 we started holding an additional Thursday night class at our regular class time. That means we will now offer Aikido Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings!

This decision was made in an effort to allow students additional training time, particulary for those of you who are unable to attend class on other evenings per week. There will be no increase in tuition for this additional training time. We at Castle Rock AIKIDO are always looking for ways to add value to our students' training. We hope our new Thursday evening classes does exactly that!

Are you looking for things to do in Castle Rock, Colorado? Try a traditional form of Aikido. Aikido is perfect for adults who are looking for a fun way to get exercise and develop self-mastery.

Visit to get a coupon for a free class.
Get driving directions to Castle Rock Aikido. Visit to watch an Aikido video.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Aikido Black Belt Awarded After 4 Years of Training

Worldwide stastics for Aikido reveal that less than 5% of all Aikido students ever reach the rank of black belt. To show how proud we are of Daniel-san for his recent promotion to black belt, Castle Rock AIKIDO decided to purchase Daniel's personally embroiderd hakama (those large, pleated skirt-like pants) and black belt for him.

Embroidered in gold, one end of Daniel's belt reads "Keiko Shochin," which roughly translates as "training in the old ways brightens the present." The other end reads "Da-ni-eru," which is the Japanese phonetic for "Daniel" in the katakana alphabet. This phrase was personally selected for Daniel by Sensei and was meant to inspire Daniel's continued growth in Aikido and in life.
The three characters that comprise Daniel's phonetic name have special meaning in and of themselves. 'Da' means "big, huge, or great." 'Ni' represents "benevolence." 'Eru' implies "to receive" or "to gain." Therefore, Daniel's name in Japanese means "to receive or gain great benevolence!"

Daniel received his indigo-colored hakama from Sensei. Castle Rock AIKIDO has decided that all black belts will wear the more traditional... more Japanese... indigo-colored hakama in the Castle Rock dojo. In the United States it is somewhat more common to wear black hakama.

Do you want to earn a black belt in Aikido? Our traditional, "un-Americanized" style of Aikido gives students a chance to learn Aikido in a Japanese cultural environment. Aikido is perfect for adults who are looking for a fun way to get exercise and develop self-mastery. Visit to get a coupon for a free class.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What Do You Like Most about the Students at Castle Rock AIKIDO?

Interview with Castle Rock AIKIDO Instructor

Sean: What do you like most about your students at Castle Rock AIKIDO?

Sensei: Well, we have a lot of really good folks here. They are really nice people. Everybody is trying to learn something, trying to grow, and trying to develop themselves. We don't seem to attract people who are out to hurt other, or people with a chip on their shoulder. They are just really nice people, the kind of people you want to hang out with.

Sean: Yeah, I know when I talk with some people about martial arts one of the first things they say is that they are intimidated. They say things like "Oh no, martial arts is not for me" or "I don't want to get hurt," or something like that. But it sounds to me like that is not the kind of person you attract.

Sensei: No, not at all. Typically the people who are a little more hot-headed tend to be attracted to other kinds of martial art styles like MMA. We attract a really neat group, have a great time, and stay safe.

Sean: Cool. What is MMA?

Senesei: MMA stands for mixed martial arts, all the no-holds-bar type fighting you see so much of on cable TV channels these days like Spike or VS.

more interview questions coming...

For more information about our Aikido culture, read our "Make Friends Fast with Aikido!" article.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Impression from the 8th Annual Aikido Summit at the Denver Buddhist Temple in Denver, Colorado – March 22nd 2008

Edgar Johannsen Sensei's personality and drive is, perhaps, the only reason that the Colorado Aikido Summit has come to fruition once again. It is only because of Edgar's amiable, easy going disposition that he is able to successfully blend with all the diverse personalities in the Colorado Aikido community and bring us all together each year to share in our similarities and learn from our differences. The Aikido Summit is a great place for younger Aikido students to experience a wide array of Aikido styles once they have attained their black belt and created a foundation from which to build. It is also an opportunity for more veteran black belts to get refocused on their own training and decide what aspects to develop on in the coming year.

Having attended several previous Colorado Aikido Summits, this year's was in many ways very much the same as years past. Therefore, it was my responsibility to be sure that I took away from it something new and different. The Aikido styles represented included Ki Society, Tomiki Aikido, Shindo Yoshin Ryu Aikijujutsu, Aikikai, represented by Kei Izawa Sensei of Aikikai Tanshinjuku, and Aikido Schools of Ueshiba represented by Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei.

As I thought about how I'd like my Aikido to evolve this year, and what I want my students to have as a foundation, I chose to focus my training at last week's Aikido Summit on the teachings of Izawa Sensei and Ikeda Sensei. These two instructors' unique styles have both been profoundly influential in my recent Aikido growth.

Over the past several decades, Kei Izawa Sensei has had the opportunity to train with several masters at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Japan. He even had the pleasure of training as 'uke' for Doshu himself in the past. Izawa Sensei also trained with Mitsunari Kanai Shihan, which must have contributed to the development of Izawa's incredible power and dynamic style rooted in the fundamentals of body movement in relationship to uke. If you have ever had the pleasure of being thrown about by Izawa Sensei, you already know that he possesses both tremendous control and power in his technique.

When I trained with Sasaki Sensei in Japan, he would often tell the story of how Osensei would give private lessons on the secrets of Aikido. One day Sasaki Sensei had the opportunity to peak into the training area through a shoji (sliding door) and noticed that what was being taught was, in fact, exactly the same as in the basic classes!

Sasaki Sensei asked about this, to which Osensei shouted, "BAKAMON!" – loosely translated as, "You Fool!" Osensei scolded young Sasaki and said, "all the 'secrets' lie in the basics and fundamentals." Izawa Sensei is an inspiring instructor who emphasizes Aikido's fundamentals to his students in Louisville, Colorado. Izawa Sensei's power originates in the hips and, in Kanai Sensei fashion, is used to forge elliptical power at various angles. As uke, these angles when applied – whether horizontal, vertical, or a combination thereof – are what project you through the air. It may sound odd, but you actually feel a wonderful sense of control and awe over the distance that you travel as Izawa Sensei completes the technique.

The class led by Ikeda Sensei at the Summit was much more focused on the internal aspects of the art. His movement reminded me of some of the more esoteric, metaphysical, and spiritual training that I received while studying with such instructors as Sasaki, Endo, Shiragami Senseis in Japan. Musubi, or connection, is a somewhat ethereal experience that, when applied, can truly develop internal power. Ikeda Sensei regularly teaches an entire class dedicated to this very subject at his dojo, Boulder Aikikai in Boulder, Colorado.

The internal power derived from connection or musubi is quite an advanced concept for many Aikido beginners and can take a long time for beginners to acquire. Ikeda Sensei demonstrated one particular path that Aikido students may choose to walk, and to develop from within, once they have firmly trained and ingrained the fundamentals into natural reflexes.

Having trained Aikido for many years, it is exciting to see what others are focused on, and the Colorado Aikido Summit is a great place for all to do just that. It is a nice, fun social gathering and a time to catch up with friends made in years past. The Summit always causes me to re-evaluate and to renew my personal commitment to Aikido training. It is a great way to be exposed to the vast variety that exists in the "art" of Aikido. Seeing these tremendous differences in style at the Summit reminded me that Aikido truly is much more an "art" than a science with perhaps as many different "styles" as practitioners.

Thank you, Edgar Sensei, for bringing us all together, once again. I very much look forward to attending in years to come.

Review of the Colorado Aikido Summit