Ask Sensei

Q: I am 59 years old, soon to be 60. I studied martial arts when I was a young man and even took some Aikido in Cleveland Hts. during the 80’s in a community education class. (Studio was by Cedar Lee Theater, was that you?) Since then I practice daily zazen, but have no physical discipline. I was wondering if Aikido is still right for me, or am I too old to start again. I have troubled knees and sometime back pain. Is there a less strenuous class available?

Matt J.

A: Hello Matt,

First, we have moved over the years from our location in the basement below the Cedar Lee Theater to where we are now. Our present location is at 3820 Superior Avenue upstairs. Our current location is much brighter and not nearly as damp as the basement you remember.

Second, age although it effects the way we train sometimes, it shouldn’t be a factor that prevents you from training. We have people of all ages including those over 60 training at our dojo. Please remember that the founder O’Sensei was well into his late 80’s and still training with the best of them.

Third, many of us have physical limitations that effect our training. Part of Aikido training is to learn how to practice and learn in spite of these limitations. As I mentioned, we do have several members that are in their 60’s still training with us.

I suggest you stop by and talk with me further. Or call me at 216-369-9292 and leave a message with your phone number and will call you.

Thanks for asking….Jeff sensei

Q: Hello,
I am very curious to learn more about Japanese Sword fighting/training. I see there are some images on the site with students training with wooden practice swords. Could you give me some insight on how your school approaches sword training? Like, is the training more for sport, or real life application? After reading from you site, I understand that your focus is not to harm; how does that apply when teaching students to use the sword? Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

D.J.

A: D.J., thank you for your questions.

Learning to fight with a Japanese sword or any sword for that matter is very complex. There are several martial arts that train in various aspects of learning to use the sword. We have have Iaido classes that teach a form of drawing and cutting as well as classes taaching the use of weapons to understand basic principles of Aikido. Some study kendo to better appreciate using the sword in a combat situation which we do not offer.

Although Aikido has many qualities of sports training, aerobic exercise, mental training, some endurance training, it tends not to be competitive like most sports. Competition using a live sword can be dangerous and is beyond the scope of our training.

Please feel free to call me at 216-369-9292 leave a number or email and I would be happy to talk further.

Jeff sensei

Q: What are the origins of the Aikido Philosophy?

A: Morihei Ueshiba was recognized as the premier martial artist in Japan, but he had an inner conflict: Whenever martial skills were used someone was hurt and someone was not, someone lost and someone won, sometimes someone was even killed. He was a master of arts that hurt and kill, but he came to a point where he didn’t want to harm people that way; he prayed about this and had an enlightenment experience. It was like many other such experiences as they are said to have happened to Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, or anyone else.

I’ve heard it called ‘cellular awareness.’ – a state of mind where everything, matter, light, sound, etc., appears as shimmering light. During this experience, he realized that he could devise an art that wasn’t injurious by changing the time and place of application of force. It was at this time that the name of the martial art he founded changed from Aikijitsu to Aikido. ‘Do’ means way, so there are three characters–Aiki-ju-jitsu means harmonious martial techniques while Aikido means way of harmony with the universe. Through practice, it becomes a way of life instead of just martial techniques.

Q: What makes Aikido different from other martial arts?

A: All martial arts are unique in their physical technique. I don’t profess to be an expert in other martial arts or to say that they don’t have this but Aikido is based on peace, love and harmony. I think it’s often different from other arts because I don’t know that other arts have the goal of not-harming. I’ve been practicing Aikido for 25 years and I believe that all martial arts teach that one should only use their skills in the event of an unprovoked attack. I believe some also teach that any harm caused to the attacker is karmic retribution for their aggression. However, if you learn skills that are meant to harm, that is your only option. Aikido takes this philosophy to another level–we practice the act of not harming. That is our physical, spiritual and philosophical goal, the objective of our training.