About Kokikai Aikido
Kokikai Aikido is a self-defense training system that stresses timing, centering and coordination rather than meeting force with force.
Kokikai Aikido is a modern martial art. Aikido was developed in the 20th century in Japan and soon spread to other countries. Kokikai-Ryu, or style, Aikido, was founded by Shuji Maruyama Sensei.
Most people associate "strength" with muscular power, but there are many ways to be strong. Kokikai training teaches that by coordinating the mind and the body everyone can become stronger. That's why Kokikai Aikido is an effective self-defense method for men and women of all ages and physical types. The goal of Kokikai Aikido is to enable all individuals to reach their strongest state and realize their full potential, both in the art of self-defense and in their daily lives.
After only a few weeks of practice, most students already experience the benefits of practice. "Aikido is a microcosm. You learn all about finding your balance, maintaining your balance, and moving your opponentís balance. You also learn that balance isnít just about the body, it goes much further, and your entire mindset changes," says club member Yatri Tivedi.
In every technique, we make use of Four Basic Principles. We learn to relax, to maintain our best posture and to stay centered and positive as we practice self-defense techniques. For most people it is not intuitive or easy to remain calm and relaxed while being attacked! But Kokikai students learn, through practice, that by applying these ideas they can defeat an attack, even by a much larger or more muscular person.
We try to use the minimum effort necessary to respond to an attack. Students learn to "lead the attacker's mind," through such things as body position, eye contact and proper timing. The end result of most of our techniques is that the attacker is on the ground, either immobilized or far enough away that we can escape.
Aikido is a "throwing" art. In some martial arts such as Kung Fu, Karate and Tae Kwon Do, the student learns how to block the opponent's attacks, and when and where to strike the opponent to disable them. In Aikido we practice in partners or small groups. One person takes the part of attacker, and the other defends against the attack. The defender does not block the attacker's power, but redirects it.
Maruyama Sensei says that we can be at our strongest when we are most comfortable. Therefore the practice of Kokikai Aikido is very comfortable-feeling as well! Since most people do not know how to fall safely when they begin Aikido, we teach safe falls and rolls to make sure that no one gets hurt during practice. We strongly emphasize safety at all times during training, both for the "attacker" (or "attackers") and the person who is practicing technique.
Some people ask why we do not do pushups or other strength training exercises in our classes. Our "strength training" is done through "ki" exercises. They focus on developing mind-body coordination to build inner strength. Ki exercises consist of practicing standing and various types of movement with mind-body coordination.
Along with self-defense, training in Kokikai Aikido includes concentration breathing and meditation exercises, and practice with wooden sword and staff.
THE FOUR BASIC PRINCIPLES OF KOKIAI AIKIDO
Keep One Point (to develop calmness)
These four principles are essential to every Kokikai Aikido technique. When used together, they result in greater inner strength, or "ki." Although we use these principles when practicing self-defense techniques, it is easy to imagine how they can be used in daily life as well.
Everyone has some internal power. Because there is a Japanese word for it, in Aikido we often refer to this power as "ki." But we could use many other words: prana, chi, or really, any word at all. The fact is, no matter what word we use, it is very difficult to understand the idea of "ki" by reading or talking about it. The best way is to experience it for yourself.
Shuji Maruyama Sensei is the Founder and President of Kokikai Aikido. Maruyama Sensei began his study of Aikido in 1955 and has spent a lifetime devoted to the practice of Aikido. Although he weighs only 135 pounds, Maruyama Sensei effortlessly and convincingly throws people who are much larger. He describes his own feeling while throwing as unbelievably comfortable and relaxed, and "like no feeling at all." His teaching style is dynamic, personal and exhilarating and his technique is full of power and beauty. He stresses that although Aikido has roots in Japanese tradition, the practice must be relevant to modern life. He encourages his students to grow and develop throughout their lifetimes, even as he continues to grow and develop the practice of Kokikai Aikido.
Maruyama Sensei lives in Japan and travels around the world teaching Kokikai Aikido. He travels to the U.S. about three times a year to give seminars, classes, and to lead Kokikai Aikido intensive training camps in the spring, summer and fall. We are very honored that he visits the Rutgers University Kokikai Aikido dojo about once a year to teach our class.
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