Aikido Woman

on March 15, 2010 in Misc


I might – just might – survive Aikido without sustaining any notable injuries.

I am not used to this. I mean, you’re talking to the woman who suffered through grueling parkour/free running classes that left her limping and whimpering for days afterwards. Fencing bouts that drench her in sweat and prickle her with nasty little bruises. One-on-one workouts with Eric to build gymnastics strength for climbing and the kind of second-story stealth stuff that Layla does. Private stretching efforts to loosen up chronically tight hips. Endless physical reminders that she is middle-aged and no longer enjoys the natural athletic benefits of a youthful body.

And of course since I’m no virgin to the martial arts, it seemed reasonable that I would exit my first Aikido classes exhausted and aching. After all, that’s what happened years ago when I took up Tae Kwan Do intensively (4-5 times a week) for six months. Ain’t no way you can feel just peachy-keen after sparring bouts and doing several hundred kicks and punches and blocks and push-ups and sit-ups while grunting in Korean.

Ah, but that’s just it. Turns out Tae Kwan Do, along with Karate and Kung Fu and most other martial arts, are of the kick-punch-block school of thought. Aikido, in contrast, has a kind of go-with-the-flow philosophy that includes using an attacker’s movements and momentum against him, and if said attacker is coming at you or trying to hit you, don’t block him or the blow because that could hurt you. Instead, simply get out of his way.

How smart is that?

Thus at the end of my first Aikido class, I had only one physical complaint…


I really am not joking when I say that my bare feet were partially numb and I was starting to hallucinate about hot baths. And why? BECAUSE THE DOJO WAS SO DAMN COLD!

Seems that the heat is always turned off overnight and the dojo’s traditional Japanese architecture means zilch insulation. Hence the thermostat hovered at 50 and my blue toes looked like cute little icicles.  Needless to say this cold is NOT good for muscles.  By the end of class I hadn’t even worked up a single bead of sweat, which says something about the class (I was pretty disappointed) and the environment.  You know, the least we paying students deserve is some heat on bitter winter days and air conditioning on sweltering summer ones.  Apparently this dojo doesn’t always bother to provide either.

4 Responses to “Aikido Woman”

  1. Robert L. Read says:

    I have done a bit of Aikido, Shotokan, and Tae Kwan Do, and I think Aikido is the best—especially for women. I’m a medium-big guy at 5’10” and 230 lbs (I used to be a barely-competitive Olympic-style weightlifter, so I have some muscle mass), and Aikido is the only style in which my wife, who is 4’11” and 105 lbs sopping wet could hope to throw me or defend herself against a guy my size.

    I don’t fully understand the grappling vs. striking debate. I suppose it is best to be good at both, but if I had to pick a single style to study, it would be Aikido.

  2. admin says:

    I’m SO glad to get good feedback on Aikido (I’ve corrected my spelling!) from someone who really knows his way around martial arts. I’m just over 5’7″ myself, so if your wife has such throwing power at 4′ 11″ there’s hope for me yet.

  3. Rickie G says:

    Hey Layla-to-be!

    Love that last entry about Aikido. You described it perfectly. I once saw a high level practicioner taking on 5 attackers simultaneously. No movie type stuff where each waits for his turn to attack. They came all at once. Using their momentuma and deftly moving his center, he threw them effortlessly to the ground – ouch – and the last one he grabbed somewhere on the hand or wrist and the man’s legs buckled with tears forming in his eyes. Aikido can be very symbolic for how to walk through life.
    By the way, you are one hell of an entertaining writer. maybe you should write a book! :-)

  4. admin says:

    From what I could see in my (only) two classes, Aikido can involve grabbing the wrist and pushing it in at an angle that can definitely hurt and doesn’t take much strength.
    And guess what! I DID write a book! And right now what’s keeping me back from publishing it (all on my lonesome) is waiting for copyright permission from a couple sources I use (a non-fiction book I take quotes from and a Monty Python song).