What is your New York City experience? Our commute, job, family, child care, and financial situation all contribute to our diverse experiences, challenges, and happiness. Traveling our sidewalks both realistically and metaphorically can be quite hard — exhausting in fact. A traditional martial arts experience offers many priceless opportunities. One of the most immediate benefits is the way it helps you reset from your daily grind.
When I first started my Aikido training, stepping into the dojo cleansed me. Any stressors that I would think about on my way to the dojo would fade as I took off my shoes and prepared to practice. It was like waking up from a great nights sleep feeling refreshed and ready to restart.
In an Aikido dojo you take off your shoes, bow to enter the dojo and/or mat, change into a gi (training uniform), say hello and quietly talk with friends as you stretch and prepare for class. As class begins, you line up in silence and show respect to the founder of Aikido and your instructor for the teachings they offer by bowing. You warm up together following a sequence of movements. Practice has the sensei demonstrate a movement or technique followed by students working together as they try their best to replicate the technique as shown. There is a joyful, yet quiet focus to the training as you execute techniques over and over to improve your efficacy. At the end of class, we bow out and then clean the dojo to care for and show respect for what it offers. These are but of a few of the activities in a typical class that are so unique compared to our modern day to day experience.
I believe that the etiquette and behaviors that we engage in in a traditional martial arts setting are a recipe. They help transport us, focus us, and in many ways calm us for the martial challenges we are going to face for an hour or two. Isn’t that wild? We are about to throw and pin each other all over the mat, facing fears, challenging our physical and mental limits all of which is increasingly intense as your training progresses. This, yet it’s an intensity that does not feel like the stress that you had been feeling on your way to the dojo. It’s quite magical in this way that we can reset and reposition for such a unique fitness and personal development experience.
A traditional martial arts dojo offers a form of decompression from life outside it. You put your phone aside. There are no televisions — no headphones to wear. There is simply you in a unique space exploring this foreign experience that challenges your mind and body unlike other activities. Everything from the way you interact with others through bowing to show respect to the strangeness of the movements and martial techniques you experience is something so totally different from your outside life. This said, ultimately the teachings, feelings, and behaviors in the dojo will carry with you outside of it. You realize you have the means to quiet your mind beyond the walls of the dojo and appreciate all of life as your dojo.
Fitness is a lifestyle decision. I wanted something more than a gym. I wanted something that engaged my body and my mind — something that outside my normal routine. I found that in Aikido.
Brooklyn Aikido Center provides training of both body and mind through the traditional Japanese martial art of Aikido and Zazen meditation. If you have any questions about our programs please email us or call us at 347-735-6744.
Interested in trying Aikido? Contact us to help get your started.