by Graeme Tennant
In Aikido, expect to spend a lot of time on the mat when first starting out

The thing I remember most from my first Aikido class is falling; or, rather, how to fall properly. Paired with a partner, we watched the instructor do a technique once, twice, three times, then it was our turn to try. I was paired with a woman roughly the same height as me. I smiled, bowed and grabbed her wrist as the instructor had shown. Before I had time to blink, I felt the whirl of air around me. My partner finished the technique by pinning my arm to the floor.

The second thing I remember most from my first Aikido class is the smell of the mats as my face rubbed against them. The mats have a faint oatmeal scent.

One cannot master anything overnight. To become good at something, you need to build on your fundamentals before you can become a master. This is just as true for learning an instrument as it is for practising a martial art. It can take many years for an individual to absorb a technique until it becomes part of your body memory and not just mental memory. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a black belt practitioner.

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba once said, “To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury is the art of peace.” Aikido uses a combination of joint locks, throws, pins and the attackers own momentum, as the basis of its techniques. Aikido is a unique martial art because its aim is to protect the practitioner without causing serious injury to their attacker.

From June 25 to July 1, Aikido Yukon, one of the martial arts dojos in Whitehorse, will be hosting a seminar with a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba; sensei Toshiro Suga. Toshiro Suga holds a seventh-degree black belt in Aikido. He lives and teaches in Paris. It is not often that a teacher of this calibre makes their way to the Yukon.

The members of Aikido Yukon would like to extend an invitation to the curious, anyone interested in trying out Aikido and anyone with experience in any style of Aikido but who hasn’t had time to train, to come join us.

There will be classes Monday to Friday for beginners (5:30–7 p.m.) and advanced students (7–8:30 p.m.). The weekend classes will be open to anyone interested in attending. For more information please contact us at info@aikidoyukon.ca.

Graeme Tennant is a member of a local Aikido dojo here in Whitehorse.

The Many Faces of Martial Arts