Why did you first become interested in Aikido and how long have you been training at Tacoma Aikikai?
Rose: I think I first heard of Aikido from The Walking Dead TV show, and I liked the idea of being strong and skilled but causing no more harm than absolutely necessary for self-defense. I had never done any martial arts training before and thought of myself as strictly pacifist until the past few years, when I started to think more intensely about self-defense/community defense in the context of movements for social justice and to admire the contributions of antifascists, Black Panthers, Zapatistas, and other indigenous resistance movements. Before I moved to Tacoma in summer 2018, I was thinking about becoming a member of the dojo or joining a rock climbing gym in town; I let the
idea simmer in the back of my mind for a year and a half before I decided to come check it out. I knew from the first time that I sat in to watch a class at the dojo that there is something very compelling for me about this practice. The atmosphere of Tacoma Aikikai drew me in immediately and I have been a member since March 2020.
What keeps you engaged in training even when it’s hard, like it’s been during the pandemic?
Rose: I think some of the elements that make Aikido training a good fit for me include the combination of serious, earnest discipline and also extremely friendly and open attitudes that our Sensei model. It’s hard work and fun at the same time. This balance seems to be a part of Aikido practice more broadly– it is explicitly inclusive to people of all ages and genders, adaptable to any level of experience and ability, and there seems to be an intention of lightheartedness along with the aspect of real self-defense and fighting techniques that require a “safety first” mindset with caution. I was also intrigued by the combination of Aikido and Zen meditation since I have had positive experiences with Zen meditation practice in the past. In addition, the dojo is gorgeous and so calming; I am always excited to go back and to see the new flower arrangements.
If you had to describe your experience of Aikido in three words, what would they be?
Rose: Challenging, painful, exhilarating!
“[This practice] is explicitly inclusive to people of all ages and genders, adaptable to any level of experience and ability, and there seems to be an intention of lightheartedness along with the aspect of real self-defense and fighting techniques …” ~ Rose