Henry Mantel: Aikido Practice

For my CIP requirement I am taking Aikido classes two, sometimes three times a week. Aikido is a Japanese martial art that has the interesting priority of self-defense while inflicting as little damage as possible, even on the attacker. There are no punches or kicking techniques. Every move is an arm lock, a throw, or a takedown. Every move is designed to require as little force as possible, which means most of the movement happens in the core of the body. Aikido movements are all about circles. Every move I’ve learned so far involves circular motion, which can be really difficult to get right sometimes.

I practice at the Kyoto Martial Arts Center. It’s about 15 minutes away from Doshisha and is between my house and school, making it very convenient for me. The people are mixed but they all seem nice and willing to help if asked or open to suggestions. I confess I cannot understand half of the directions the instructor gives me but he always demonstrates so I just follow his example and I usually get it eventually. I’ve practice with the older students a few times, most of them are in there forties, I think, and they have no mercy. I learned pretty quickly that the harder I grip, the harder I’m going to get thrown. Fortunately I haven’t been injured at all yet, proper falling techniques were the first thing I was taught, but I have screwed up a roll or two and ended up flat on my back. Also sometimes they get a bit over zealous with the arm locks and end up bending my arm in the wrong direction a little farther than necessary, but they’re usually quick to release when I hit the mat.

I’m having a lot of fun with Aikido. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a martial art and I forgot how much I enjoy it. It’s also a great workout sometimes, which is something I’ve neglected to do since I got here. The people are nice, the teachers are good, and the classes are fun and challenging.

4 thoughts on “Henry Mantel: Aikido Practice

  1. Sounds like you’re enjoying aikido. Will you be continuing with this CIP next semester? If so, do you have any goals that you want to reach by the end of your time here? Maybe like a certain move or technique or something?

    • I’m definitely continuing next semester. Goals? I don’t know. I’d like to be able to touch my head to my knees again. I’d also like to move up a rank. I think I have a test soon actually, but I’m not sure.

  2. Dude, I totally want to see one of your practices sometime. It sounds like it’d be really fun to watch. Maybe I should try taking up Aikido next semester…though I don’t want to pay for a dogi. Me being as cheap as ever, lol.

    • Yeah you should come watch. They’ll probably make you join in. You could probably get away with not buying a dogi for a little while but you’d have to eventually. It’s not that expensive I think. It could be either a judo or a karate uniform and I’m pretty sure the karate uniforms are cheaper. But come to a practice anyway, it’s fun to watch the masters hurl each other like bags of rice.