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.