My Aikido Journey By Forrest Arnold
It wasn’t easy to be a beginner at age 48. It was 2002 and I joined the Aikido club in Kohala for physical health and to learn more about self-defense. I have discovered several things from the years of practice---and these learnings have really changed my life.
When I came to the training hall (the dojo) for the first time, I immediately felt the deep sense of martial arts tradition. There is the white canvas mat, the wooden training swords and photographs of the founders of aikido on the wall. The mood of the training was focused and flowing.
Yet there was much more to be revealed to me as I joined the circle. Having come from a background in boxing and karate, it struck me that this martial art does not begin “putting up your dukes” to beat the other guy down. Instead, the focus is on resolving conflict instead of using fists, kicks and chokes to dominate another. Hmmm, I thought, the goal of readiness yet with the intention to reduce and resolve conflict—this is powerful.
With a very active children’s program and beginners sessions for adults, training unfolds in a calm-yet-active pattern. No one is pushed beyond their physical limitations as skills and techniques are gradually added. People of any age or experience level can train together.
This sense of including others and working in harmony carries a profound message of accepting others for who they are.
I discovered the many challenges of learning new things---sometimes my frustrated ego told me this aikido thing should come easy for me---yet I saw my skills steadily growing. I hung in there. The teachers said to just show up and practice---it is truly about the learning process and not about earning a badge of achievement.
And there is a lot of fun and friendship and supportive energy in the practice. You learn a lot about yourself as you build confidence, flexibility, and enjoy a healthy relationship with a great circle of people sharing regular physical practice. For me, part of the joy is to see another student become more solid and balanced as a person—you can see it in their movements and their way of being.
When you join the aikido dojo, you step into a world-wide circle of people who practice peace-through-preparedness. Nobody’s perfect—but to be part of a tradition focused on getting better adds a sense of satisfaction to my life. And with membership dues being so affordable,
I cannot imagine a better deal anywhere.
So all in all, I found a place of personal growth, friendship and community, physical vitality,
and a positive challenge to be a part of the solution in an uncertain future. Creating harmony instead of conflict—a way of being so important to where our world is going.
What will it be for you?
Aikido for me.
Aikido in my life.