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Experience Aikido: The Power of Mind and Positivity

Other than the delicious food and beautiful nature, Matsusaka is also a city where you can experience hands-on activities related to Japanese culture, and one of such activities is Aikido. Come challenge yourself to learn some basic self-defense skills and the importance of having a positive mindset! There’s no need to worry even if you don’t understand Japanese, as the instructor is able to communicate in English!

When one thinks about power in martial arts, raw physical strength often comes to mind. However, in Aikido, strength comes from the mind as well, and it has a huge influence on the overall strength of a person. All in all, Aikido is about achieving a state where the mind and body are one; it is not just about the strength of the physical state, but also the mental state. This time, I had the opportunity to take a quick introduction to Aikido from Hashimoto-sensei.

Hashimoto-sensei
Hashimoto-sensei is an English language teacher and he operates a pub for business as well.

The power of mind

One of the basic lessons that Aikido teaches is how the mind can influence the physical state of a person. The body gets weaker as you age, but the mind doesn’t. The right mindset will give you an edge not just in a fight, but in your daily life as well. During the Aikido experience, Hashimoto-sensei demonstrated on how a positive mind can give one strength.

Negative mindset
First, we were asked to try walking past our opponent’s arm that’s blocking the path, while thinking about sad or negative things. When one thinks about the negative, they’d be knocked down easily.
With positive thoughts, you’ll be able to walk through the obstacle with ease. We can apply this to our daily life as well, where having a positive mindset can help us overcome obstacles that come in our way.

The right posture

In Aikido, you’d also learn about sitting and standing in the right posture to prevent getting knocked down easily.

Getting knocked down in a bad, slouching posture
Learning the right sitting posture.
Learning the right standing posture. It’ll be hard for us to get knocked down if we keep our chest out and stomach in.
Thanking Hashimoto-sensei for his guidance.

Focusing on the ‘Ki’

Emphasized regularly in Aikido, ‘Ki’ is a complicated concept that is hard to grasp, and even harder to master practically. From my understanding, ‘Ki’ is a state of mind when one is fully relaxed and is focused on a single point. It is a state where the mind is immovable, and unified with the body, hence making the person even ‘stronger’, both in mind and body. The ‘Unbendable Arm’ demonstrates the influence that the mind has on the body.

When Hashimoto-sensei wasn’t focusing on his ‘Ki’, his arm could be bent easily with raw strength.
When Hashimoto-sensei focused his ‘Ki’ on a single point, it was impossible to bend his arm with just pure strength alone.

Moves in Aikido

Next, Hashimoto-sensei demonstrated and taught us a few moves. Aikido is a martial art largely for self-defense by redirecting your attacker's ‘Ki’ and turning it against them.

Hashimoto-sensei explaining and demonstrating the moves.
It was easy to understand in theory, but a totally different ball game in practice.
Thanking Hashimoto-sensei for his demonstration.
Munetsuki Kotegaeshi(胸突き小手返し). This move uses the opponent's ‘Ki’ against him as he attempts to strike you directly.
Next, I was on the receiving end. I personally find it harder to be in this role as I didn’t know the correct way to fall.
Katatedori Nikyo(片手取り二教). It is useful when your opponent grabs your hand. It seems ineffective from the photo, but actually very effective with minimal force required.
It hurts when you’re on the receiving end. Only minimal force is required to put you down again if you try to fight back with the other hand.

Conclusion

It was an interesting experience where I got to learn the general idea of what Aikido is about. It may be difficult to understand what is going on from the photos alone, and I think that it’s one of those things that makes more sense once you’ve experienced it yourself. Aikido focuses on self-defense and strengthening of the mind, and the skills learned are beneficial in daily life as well. With a focused and positive mind, we can overcome obstacles in work and challenges in life, and become a more confident person.

Information

Lesson fee: 20,000JPY (including rental cost of Aikido attire, “Gi” – 3,000JPY)
Gi purchase (optional): 10,000JPY (with name embroidering)
Venue fee: 3,000JPY
Experience time: 2~3 hours
Participants: 1~5

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