This week, Sam Robinson, a second year PPE student and the Treasurer of Aikido society, gives us a comprehensive view of what being in the society is like.
Aikido is a Japanese martial art, which takes some inspiration from jujitsu. It focuses on using your opponent’s attack against them, so there’s no punching, kicking or striking – it’s more about using momentum to break your opponent’s balance to throw them or put them on the floor. Because of that, Aikido isn’t really about muscle: it’s more about the technique than how hard you can push someone. You’d be surprised at how little strength you need if you do a technique just right.
I joined Aikido in my first year, when I was looking for something new to try out. When I came to university, I was inspired to have a look into martial arts as a way to get myself out of my comfort zone. It just so happened Aikido was doing a Give It A Go session that week. I went along, hoping it wouldn’t be too awkward, but everyone was really friendly and it wasn’t awkward at all, so I stayed.
Usually in classes we begin with warming up by stretching, practicing some basic foot and/or hand movements and working on basic exercises that improve distance and timing. We tend to build up gradually to techniques, so it’s pretty accessible to beginners. What we do after depends on the session. Usually, we’ll learn a set of techniques, and practice for upcoming gradings. Sometimes, Justin (the instructor) likes to mix things up and have us practicing randori, i.e. free-form bouts, to really help solidify the techniques in our heads. Occasionally, we also do some weapons training (with wooden swords and spears), and some more advanced techniques. So it’s nicely structured, but with a little variety thrown in.
Trainings aren’t the only thing we do in the society. Recently, we’ve had a few laid-back socials, like a night out bowling and Sunday lunch after sessions. We also had more “Aikido” focused events, such as a seminar in York and our World Unite session that gave some background to Aikido’s history and cultural importance.
The Student Nationals are also coming up, so we’ll be sending a team there, and hopefully we’ll be having a few more socials this semester. In fact, we’re even planning a trip to Japan, to experience Aikido at its source (as well as to fill up on awesome Japanese food). Being a part of Aikido society has been an amazing experience for me. I’d say it’s great to join if you’re considering starting a martial art, if you’re looking for something that doesn’t need strength for you to do well in and which doesn’t involve hurting people. We’ve had quite a few new members come in this year, which was a welcome boost, but we’re always happy to get more. It’s a really friendly, laid-back group, so don’t worry about not fitting in – we make sure Aikido is open to everyone.
Image credit: www.shodokan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Edinburgh.jpg