How did you get involved with Aikido?
My generation had an inevitable influence from the martial art movies from the 80s and 90s. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people got very keen on learning something that comes from a different world. We are talking about the pre-internet era when information was hard to get. You couldn’t just Google or YouTube something you wanted information about. I was surely one of them. I only found out in my first class that Aikido is something that Steven Seagal practices as well. Martial art was something special, something hard to master. This is still the case. However, I think in our rushing world, it is even more challenging to start practising a martial art.
What does Aikido mean for you?
Aikido is my companion along the journey I call Life. Teaching and practising give me a tremendous amount of joy and satisfaction, in and outside the dojo. It gives me the hunger to learn more and to get better, it also gives me the desire to pass on the hard-earned knowledge. I can see how long the journey might be and I find it really fascinating.
Where do you see Aikido fit in the modern martial arts world?
I think we are spoiled with a number of options when we are about to start learning a martial art. Which is fantastic in a way, as you probably won’t need to compromise your character just to fit into a certain style. You can very carefully select something that suits you the best, even by trying out many of them to get to the right direction. Aikido is also getting more and more attention, as martial arts are now considered to be a part of the “Health and Fitness” culture.
If Aikikai Aikido means a traditional line, does that mean it may become out of date?
Nowadays it is a valid concern since MMA has become very popular. What is your opinion about this?
In my opinion, people need to be very careful comparing martial arts as they are all representing a different reason for their existence. Aikido might look out of date because of the traditional way of teaching and the etiquette, or because of being a self-defense martial art where there are no attacking techniques. But I would never doubt its efficiency. If you had a good amount of experience and you were stuck in a hot situation, you would be amazed what you can do with it.
Do you practice Weapon techniques as well?
Weapons are the blueprint of Aikido, therefore it is very important to get familiar with them. I wouldn’t say you will master any weapons in Aikido, but that’s not the point either. It is hard enough to learn one martial art properly.
Is Aikido a real self-defence Martial Art or you learn how to attack as well?
Aikido is a real self-defence martial art, as long as you are aware of the threats of the real world around you. That means we do need to understand the consequences of mistakes and faults, seeing the gaps and possible attacks. You can easily teach Aikido in a restricted dojo where nobody can ask you a question, or you can be very open about certain doubts and issues that you need to find the best possible solution for.
What does self-defense really mean for you?
People would think we do Aikido so if someone is trying to pickpocket us we can just break his wrist. However, most of the attacks we experience in life are not physical but mental. Everyday problems, work, family and personal issues. By practising Aikido we are working on our body, but also on our soul, mental state. Avoiding attacks, finding the best possible solutions to minimise the harm caused to the others also applies to our everyday lives.
What does one need to do to learn Aikido?
Need to be patient, because it is going to be a long journey 🙂
Is there any special background requirement (like other MA experience) or age limit?
No background is required, no age limit.
What would be your ultimate advice to people considering to learn Aikido?
Don’t be desperate to learn the techniques very quickly. Because pushing yourself with Aikido can become frustrating. Aikido needs time, meanwhile, your body is exercising, your brain is relaxing and you will be a part of a great group of people. Occasionally might even socialise with them after a class in a nearby pub…