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Tossing Grandma (alternatively titled My First Aikido Class)

The Saturday before last, I tossed a seventy-something year old woman to the ground - repeatedly - and enjoyed it.  The woman in question had the sing-song voice of a kindergarten teacher and looked, well, like your quintessential pie-baking granny type.  She happens to be a sixth level black belt and the Chief Instructor of Bond Street Dojo.  I think it's fair to say that she only fell to humor me.  Still, it was totally empowering, and a very fun introduction to Aikido.

Aikido is a martial art that teaches self defense techniques that inflict minimal harm on the attacker.  The movements focus on redirecting the attacker's energy to gain control of the situation as opposed to meeting force with opposing force.  I've always wanted to a try a martial art, so when a friend from college told me that she's been studying Aikido and invited me to join her for a free introductory class, I said yes right away.

Bond Street Dojo is located on West 29th on the third floor of an unassuming office building.  Once you're inside, though, it's totally a dojo.  The decor is traditional Japanese and students practice in hakama (pleated trousers) once they achieve a certain level.  There is a lot of bowing and ritual in Aikido.  I spent a few months living in Japan, so that part came pretty naturally. 

Aikido is very pretty to watch, but it's also pretty badass.  My friend showed me the wall of boken (wooden practice swords) and explained how her instructor once chased her around the mat with a boken to teach her to get out of the way.  I imagine that's a fairly effective technique.

Getting out of the way actually ended up being one of the harder lessons during my intro class.  To practice, one of the more advanced students came at me repeatedly with his arms extended forwards.  All I was supposed to do was turn to the side to let him pass.  I was surprised at how many times I instinctively reacted by grabbing his arms instead of using the energy of the contact only to turn myself out of his path.

The class was great, and very easy to follow.  Each move was demonstrated by the instructor and one of the advanced students.  Then everyone broke into pairs to practice.  I always worked with an advanced student so that they could show me what was expected.  We switched off being the attacker and the attackee.  Everyone was very patient and eager to show me the ropes.

Bond Street Dojo offers free intro classes once a month.  If you're curious, I highly recommend checking it out.

-Gym Belle-

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    Tossing Grandma (alternatively titled My First Aikido Class) - Blog - Gympressions

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