Xinru Li: Aikido in Kyoto Budo Center

Choosing Aikido, a Japanese martial art, as my CIP is one of the smartest decisions I made this semester. I have been practiced Aikido for 2 years in Brandeis and now I have a different experience in Kyoto Budo Center. I feel so lucky to practice Aikido in a traditional Dojo with people who are really into it.

At first, I was worried about whether doing Aikido will help me to get involved into a Japanese circle or improve my Japanese. After talking to students who was in KCJS last semester, I realized that I wanted to do something interesting so I could enjoy myself and learn more. So, I started to do Aikido two or three times per week. When I went to the dojo for the first time, I was shocked that there were so many old people and I hardly understood their Japanese because of their strong accents. Luckily, Aikido does not need too much spoken language. Basically, one learns a technique by watching sensei’s demonstration and practicing with different partners. This means you have to adjust your techniques according to the partner’s stature or strength. There is not competition or match in Aikido. All you need to do is to learn from your partner. Even though I have trouble understanding their Japanese at first, most of them are so experienced that they can show me how to improve my techniques.

Compared Aikido Club in Brandeis and Aikido dojo in Budo Center, etiquette is more strict in the Budo Center. I don’t even remember how many times I say arigatogozaimasu(thank you very much) and onegaishimasu(please teach me) in each practice day. Also, thanks to Aikido here, I can sit in seiza for a longer time. To some extent, etiquette connects us and makes us closer in here. When I follow the rules in Aikido dojo, I become a member of the group. Then I talk to the members there and make friends with them. During this process, I improve my listening and understanding of Japanese culture.

It is April now. I can see cherry blossom near Budo Center every time I go there. Even though there is less than one month left to enjoy cherry blossom and practice Aikido, I will remember this wonderful experience and keep doing Aikido in the future.

4 thoughts on “Xinru Li: Aikido in Kyoto Budo Center

  1. Sounds fun! Do the practices incorporate a lot of teaching and more structured? Or is it mostly sparring? Did you find a difference (besides the etiquette) between the Aikido you initially learned at Brandeis and Aikido at the Budo Center?

    • Both. We learn techniques first and then practice with random partners. A little bit different but Aikido at Budo center is much more kibishii.

  2. I’m really glad you got into Aikido so much here!! By the way, have you had the chance to talk to some of the members outside of the Budo center? You mentioned you speak very formally to them throughout practice, but do people’s manner of speech (like formality) change outside of practice? Or do you think there would be?

    • Yeah. I did talk to some middle school students and young ladies in my circle. We spoke in a easy way but still polite.