Posted by: balladofyoko | January 4, 2007

Why Aikido?

The ever-inquisitive Zanti asked, in my last post:

I am curious about why you[‘re] doing martial arts? What are your benefits from it? Aside from practicing and taking classes do you do anything else with your ninja skills?

Why do I do aikido? Why do I go to two weeknight classes and one early morning weekend class every week, battling crosstown traffic to get to the dojo, sometimes during rush hour? Why would I spend much of my free time falling down, getting thrown, and getting back up, again and again and again, when I could be cozy at home? What keeps me coming back for more, after five years?

There are a lot of reasons that I find keep me interested in aikido.
[more after the cut]

Physical Benefits. Because my job is largely sedentary– I sit at a desk for several hours on end– I’ve felt that I needed some kind of physical activity. Aikido helps keep me in shape. There’s a lot of running and tumbling involved– aerobic, cardiovascular exercise. It feels good. I could probably stand to have a more intense workout, but this works for me.

Psychological Benefits. One of the main tenets of aikido is what is called “mind-body coordination”– having the mind and body work in concert instead of as separate entities. During training, there is a lot of emphasis on being focused and present, being relaxed and centered. Aikido has helped me become more aware of myself and how I move, and has made me more comfortable in my own body.

Community. I am blessed to be part of a close-knit, warm, friendly dojo. There is no competition during practice– everyone is interested in helping each other learn aikido, and there is always good support and encouragement from everyone, regardless of rank. We often hang out together apart from classes, and boy, do some of these folks know how to party! They’re great people, and I am proud to count many of them as friends.

Challenges. Aikido tests me to my limits, and pushes me to explore different options. Can I perform a freestyle against five attackers? How can I effectively throw someone twice my size? How can I teach a lower-ranked student how to do a particular technique? Learning aikido never proves boring for me.

Do I do anything with my “ninja skills”– have I had to use aikido as self-defense? I haven’t yet had to use it physically. I’ve often thought about how aikido works in verbal interactions. I can’t think of a specific example in which I’ve used aikido off the mat, although I’m sure the training has changed the way I interact with people. I’ll have to come back to this one.

I guess the short answer to why I do aikido is because I find it to be fun. I’ll keep doing it as long as it’s fun, and I imagine it will be for quite some time.



  1. Those damn ninjas. They hog all the martial arts glory. I bet non-martial artists never ask about your “aikidoka skills”. I even get asked about “ninja skills”, and I study Chinese arts. That’s it. I officially hate ninjas. These days, they’re all 14 year old white boys, anyway, and I’m sure I could beat them up.

    On a more serious note, I absolutely use the results of my martial arts training every day. The first time I saw an episode of the Dog Whisperer, I recognized “calm assertiveness” immediately as a quality that I see in many martial artists. I find that, now that I project this quality more in everyday interactions, I can be a more laid back, nicer person because people are more likely to take me at my word and are less tempted to trangress my boundaries or impose upon me. And in my opinion, that’s a highly effective form of self-defense in the broader sense.

    Hm. You may have started a blog entry brewing…

  2. I’m a little late, but on the 43 things front, I did read GTD and it was extremely useful in organizing my work environment. I have the 43 folders, the tickler file and the empty inbox every day. It is pretty satisfying, because even when i don’t feel like working, i can do something.

    plus, go eagles!

  3. Ten Feet: “calm assertiveness” is a good way to describe that state of being many martial artists have. I definitely need to revisit the topic of self-defense, but I have to do some more thinking on it.

    Dewey: hi! After many years of working in administrative assistant jobs, I know that the 43 folders/GTD method is the best way to organize and remember to work on things. However, I think the “43 things” site is a completely different animal– it’s more about expressing and achieving lifelong goals, not necessarily work-related. And yeah, Go Eagles!

  4. See, I don’t know the word “aikidoka” but I do know the word “ninja”. NINJA!
    I was just wondering what makes different people choose different physical activities – like asking a runner why she chooses to run or why a shotputter puts shots. I’m interested in what a person gets out of the activity and do they ever apply the activity in some way to other activities (or even everyday activities). Since I know about zero when it comes to martial arts, I was particularly interested in what you had to say about your chosen physical activity. Thanks for the post!

  5. […] I don’t. They are great people, though– I still think very highly of folks. 6. Do these reasons still apply? Psychological benefits and challenges seem to have waned. 7. It’d be good if I […]


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