- What is Aikido?
- What does the word “aikido” mean?
- How is aikido different from other martial arts?
- What type of aikido does Brandermill Aikido Club practice?
- What distinguishes Suenaka Aikido from other types of aikido?
- What weapons do you practice with?
- How often do you test?
- Are there other fees for testing or dues?
- Is Brandermill Aikido Club Right For Me?
What is Aikido?
Aikido is the most modern of Japan’s martial arts developed by Master Morihei Ueshiba (O’Sensei). It is a jujitsu-like style of “painless” self-defense, utilizing joint locks, pins, immobilizations and throws.
Aikido is also a path of study about “Conflict Resolution” and learning to live in ‘Harmony’ with the world through the study of martial techniques of self-defense, combined with the principles of the loving protection of all things. It is a personal quest of self-improvement which has different meanings and purpose for the individual. The goal of aikido – which is a noble aspiration, is to neutralize an attack without causing unnecessary harm to the attacker. However, when faced with a situation of a combative nature and there is no possibility to escape the engagement, a skilled Aikidoka can put down an attacker for good if it is necessary. It is considered to be the most ethical form or martial art.
Aikido is an exciting self-defense to learn because it is a complex art form that is a source of unlimited learning.
What does the word “aikido” mean?
The word ‘Aikido’ consists of three Japanese characters: Ai – love, harmony, Ki – spirit, universal energy, life force, and Do – a path or the Way. It may be translated as: “the Way of spiritual harmony” or “the Way of harmony with universal energy” or “the Way of unifying (with) life energy” or “the Way of the harmonious spirit.” Depending on your preference, either would be correct. O’Sensei referred to Aikido as The Art of Peace.
How is aikido different from other martial arts?
In very general terms Aikido does not meet conflict directly. It uses elements of moving out of the way of an attack, deflection, controlling the first move while blending with the aggressive energy of the attacker, taking the opponent’s balance and maintaining positive control of this off-balanced condition, then neutralizing the threat with a variety of locks, pins, or throws until there is no longer a threat. Aikido offers the student options in dealing with an attack without inflicting permanent or serious injury, yet the option is available for devastating results if required. The level of response is dictated by the nature of the attack.
What type of aikido does Brandermill Aikido Club practice?
The Brandermill Aikido Club teaches Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku Ho Aikido (Suenaka Style, Philosophical Way) Aikido. We are members of Wadokai Aikido and the American International Ki Development and Philosophical Society, founded by Roy. Y. Suenaka Soke.
Our method of aikido is a dynamic style of self-defense which is street effective and powerful. Suenaka Style Aikido is neither spiritual nor physical; it is both and includes the philosophical teachings of Suenaka Sensei along with the principles of Aiki as developed by O’Sensei. If you would like a more definitive explanation of Suenaka Aikido, please visit our Suenaka Aikido page.
At the present time only 2 schools are authorized to teach Suenaka Style Aikido in Virginia. Aikido of Suenaka-Ha Ashland, located in Ashland Virginia and the Brandermill Aikido Club located in Midlothian Va.
What distinguishes Suenaka Aikido from other types of aikido?
All martial art styles have value and strength, each having its own unique characteristics regarding focus of training and application of self-defense. Making accurate comparisons tends to be difficult and often leads to conflicting opinions.
Suenaka Style Aikido is second generation: from Morihei Ueshiba, O’Sensei the founder of Aikido, to Roy Y. Suenaka Sensei, to the students of Sensei Suenaka. Suenaka Style Aikido concentrates on both the physical (the self-defense aspects) and the spiritual (Ki development and Philosophical) aspects of study. The physical covers defenses against empty hand, kicks, knives, jo (staff), bokken (wooden sword), and guns under all types of circumstances and conditions. Our particular method of aikido is considered efficient and dynamic.
Ki development and Philosophy includes Ki development exercises, jo and ken forms (katas), meditation, breathing, and philosophical discussions. Furthermore, Ki Development as Sensei Suenaka states “Is a bridge between psychology, which concerns itself exclusively with the mind and physical education, which deals only with the body. Ultimately, mind and body are one – no borders exist between them. The mind is refined body, the body unrefined mind. It is foolish to consider then two separate things.”
What weapons do you practice with?
We train with the jo (wooden staff) and the bokken (wooden sword). These weapons are used to perform katas (forms) and waza (martial techniques. We practice with weapons to develop a greater sense of awareness, balance, body movement, rhythm, and cutting to name several. Effective cutting skills are key essentials in empty hand techniques. Additional training includes the use of the tanto (wooden knife) and the tepo (a wooden pistol). These are primarily used for self-defense training rather than offensive training.
How often do you test?
Suenaka Style Aikido is not about the business of being a belt producing organization with students testing every 4 – 6 weeks, every three months, or even quarterly as with some other martial programs. This is neither bad nor good. It’s just not our way. Our emphasis is about the journey of study and the personal growth and development that aikido offers.
Kyu testing (ranks below Black Belt), are generally conducted once to twice every year for the entire dojo. Students are asked or are invited to test when it is appropriate. When advance students have met the requirements for Ikkyu and Nikyu testing (brown belt rank), they are invited to test before Suenaka Sensei himself at the student’s home dojo when he travels to the various affiliates to conduct annual seminars. All ‘Dan Ranks’ (Black Belt) testing is conducted during Summer Camps (Gasshuku), when the Wadokai organization gathers together for a week of aikido training.
If your emphasis or personal desire is about the business of obtaining rank, you should seriously consider another dojo to pursue your martial studies. Students must meet specific requirements in order to be considered for testing and the award of rank. These include but are not limited to required hours of practice for each specific rank, knowledge of Aikido history, philosophy, and Japanese terms and principles, waza and weapons proficiency, and the personal contributions of the individual student with supporting the growth and development of the dojo and Aikido overall. It should be mentioned that testing is not compulsory for students that study Suenaka Aikido.
Are there other fees for testing or dues?
Aside from our monthly dues, there are two small annual fees. These fees are annual dues for our dojo insurance and membership dues for our Wadokai organization. Testing fees only occur once a year whenever a student or an instructor has met the requirements and are invited to appear before the testing board. Since we only test once a year, these fees and annual dues are considered nominal investments toward your study and are not for public disclosure. You may ask the Chief Instructor to discuss these fees at the time of your visit if it is an important consideration before choosing a school of study.
During the course of the year, students are free to attend various seminars and camps which are held throughout the organization. There are fees to attend such events, along with expenses for transportation and travel.
Is the Brandermill Aikido Club Right For Me?
The only way for you to discover whether we are right for you is an up-close and personal experience at our dojo. However, the very first step in your search for any martial art program is to look around and determine what seems to interest you the most.
There are numerous self-defense programs available with some very talented and exceptional instructors. Additionally, you will find several different styles of aikido in Richmond Virginia. Aikido styles do vary and to the untrained eye, may appear to be the same, yet they are very different. Some Aikido styles strictly concentrate on the martial side of waza, while others put greater emphasis on the spiritual or philosophical areas; teaching that aikido is love and should not be used for self-defense. Our concentration focuses on the martial dimensions of self-defense, while blending the philosophical and spiritual aspects of Aiki Principles in our training.
My recommendation to any prospective student is to take the time and visit numerous schools before making a decision. Not once, but several times and evaluate the interaction of the students with one another, with the instructor, and more importantly, evaluate how the school feels to you. Do not just talk with the instructor. Take the time and talk with some of the students. Do they seem to be connected to their teachers? Do they appear to be enjoying themselves? How is the environment and atmosphere of training? Is it congruent with your personality? Is it a place conducive to learning or is it a place of machismo? Do you feel like you will be permitted to train within your physical limitations (if any), and at your level of ability to participate? Does it have good energy and a spirit? More importantly, is it a school that places greater value on you as an individual, rather than viewing you as another contract? These are just some of the questions you may want to consider besides the others you will formulate on your own.
If you are interested in learning Iwama, ASU, Aikikai, or other style of aikido, we will not be able to help you. If your desire is to study Suenaka Style Aikido after having visited our website and our dojo, we gladly welcome you to create your own space and join our Aikido Family. Only by having a direct association with an affiliate dojo of Suenaka Sensei, may a student properly learn Suenaka Style Aikido.