How I’m training aikido during the Covid-19 pandemic

I have decided to halt my class time at the Aikido dojo I practice at for a couple of months.  Aikido is by and large a partner practice but the risk for me is too great, considering I have some health risks being a diabetic, my wife has respiratory challenges, and my mom is almost 80.  If I get sick then the results could be catastrophic for me and those I love around me.

I make this decision with a bit of regret.  I am up for my sandan (third degree black belt) test and have been looking forward to this moment for quite some time.  However, that opportunity will still be there when I’m ready to come back.  I need to make sure that I am healthy so that when it is safe and we come back to a bit of normality I can in fact take my dan exam.

So while I am not in class there are still many things that I can practice.  Of them I can sharpen up my weapons work

  • 13 jo kata
  • 31 jo kata
  • Misogi no jo kata
  • Misogi no ken kata
  • 7 ken suburi
  • 20 jo suburi
  • Experiment with performing the Misogi no ken and misogi no jo forms without  weapons.  I can work on finding tachi waza applications for both of these weapons forms.

I can also:

  • Punch the heavy bag
  • Practice techniques normally practiced with a partner as a form of kata.  i can work them into a tai chi form (Sensei Tetsua Sugawara has done this quite effectively)
  • Practice my ukemi on the carpet
  • Stretch
  • Do yoga
  • Exercise with kettlebells, dumbbells, straps and bands
  • Practice kototama
  • Practice my tai chi forms more

Unfortunately some things cannot be replaced.  Sensei’s leadership and tutelage, partner practice, and a sense of community is something I will miss greatly.  But as I am putting effort into being healthy, I am going to trust that my dojo will put forth an effort and, in time we can all enjoy each other on the mat again.

Life is not normal now.  As of today, March 12th, 2020, the NBA has suspended their season, Italy is on complete lock down, conferences and concerts are being cancelled.  So as things externally are being thrown into chaos, I need to take care of me.  I am struggling and trying to quell the panic I feel. So, simple is better.  I am going to try and simplify my life a bit, disengage for a bit and then return again.

To my dojo mates and other Aikido practitioners, please keep this in mind if you are going to take a haitus for a while: Pay your dues. I mean that literally.  Pay your monthly dues to your sensei.  Remember that you are not paying “by the class”.  You are contributing to the support of your dojo community.  Now more than ever it is vitally important to consider keeping your monthly dues as a commitment not just to sensei, but to your dojo mates as well.  The worst thing that could happen is we come out on the other side and do not have a place to practice because sensei could not afford to keep the doors open.

My friend Linda Eskin has put out a very comprehensive blog post that is well worth the read of anyone practicing Aikido.  You can find the link below:

Remember that Aikido is not a set of techniques.  I heard an interview with Philip Greenwood a while ago and he said something significant.  He said “Don’t think that just because you can do a good kotegaeshi, you can call that Aikido.”  Aikido is a practice for the soul and spirit as much as it is for the body.  Remember that we are practicing the art of peace.  Right now, maybe that means to simply attempt to bring peace and harmony to those close to us as ourselves.  My wish for all is that you will be safe, brave, and at peace.

“The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.”
– Morehei Ueshiba


One Comment Add yours

  1. Palmer Robin says:

    I will miss you, Mark. I respect your decision. May God bring us through this time in wholeness and fullness without resistance.

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