The boys lined up to learn

Adam has volunteered to get tossed around the mat for as long as I’ve known him. Back in college, he used to be part of an aikido group. I remember watching them on the basement floor of Smith/Burdick – the upwelling lights revealing crazy people in white tunics throwing each other dangerously on the floor.

He took a brief hiatus after graduation, but about five years ago he found a new dojo not unreasonably far from us. Since that day, he has gone to aikido between one and four times a week (it depends on the week).

The art is fantastic for Adam. He’s in really, really great shape. (If I could do the things he can do, I’d be showing off. Constantly. He can do pushups from a handstand.) It’s also excellent mental rest for him – it allows him to meditate and be physical and not intellectual for a while. I think it calms and relaxes him, and helps him reduce stress.

Monday, sensei gave him the big news that he had passed his first kyu test. He’d worked his way from nothing, to fifth kyu and on up – each taking a year or more. For the last three or so belt tests, he’s been warned that maybe he wouldn’t get to test for the next one (since he only averages two sessions a week), but each time he’s studied books and videos, mumbled to himself while making striking motions in the hall, and proven himself on the mat.

Tiny Grey starts aikido

Over the last few years, he’s gradually become the senior student in the dojo, and assumed greater and greater responsibilities for teaching. There is a children’s session at the dojo too, and as our sons turned four they also donned white little gis and learned how to roll, and do the forms and techniques. Grey is now a green stripe. Thane still has to earn his first belt. But it has become a family thing, and an assumption about our time and energies. Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, there is aikido unless there is a pressing reason that there cannot be aikido.

Until now. Sensei has a little one on the way, and a job. The martial arts are a rather consuming passion that don’t mix well with, oh, a full time job and children. And so, with sadness, the dojo (a labor of great love) is closing.
It’s funny, but even though I never took a single ukemi, even I feel at loss. What now? How will Adam be happy if he never gets to test for his black belt, or months go by with not a single person throwing him over their head? Is there an activity I should do with the kids instead, to make sure they’re developing the appreciation of exercise, grace, coordination and workout? What does life look like when Monday, Wednesday and Saturday are back on the table? Can we find another dojo for Adam, and if not… what takes its place in our lives?

For many years, this has been a wonderful thing in our lives. I’m grateful to sensei for the hard work, love and dedication he’s poured into it. A tiny part of me is excited about a summer “off”. But I also hope that what comes next is as wonderful and fulfilling as this has been for my family.

I was trying to look up when Adam started doing aikido, and I found this post from June 2008 that seems to be the starting point! I had completely and utterly forgotten!

So, to put it clearly, my husband was laid off today.*

This wasn’t entirely unexpected and it won’t be devastating. I’m pretty confident with his skill set, he’ll find a new job quickly. But it also makes for a less-than-fun Thursday. Anyway, he has a $300 wellness benefit from his current employer which, if he does not spend it in the next 2 weeks, he will lose. He had been talking about doing aikido for a while now. He did it in college and loved it, but in our grownup life we didn’t have time for both gaming and aikido, and gaming has won. With the dissolution of his standing Wednesday night game, he’s thinking about doing aikido instead on Wednesdays and (while working) maybe sneaking it in another night of the week. While unemployed, he could participate daily if he chose. And the $300 wellness benefit will pay for nearly 6 months of it.

I think that’s such a smart and productive way to deal with the layoff. I know that working out will make him feel much better and much sharper. I know that aikido in particular really helps keep him inside his skin. And since he’s got that benefit, it’s even fiscally responsible.

*He had a new job before he even had his last day at the old job, if memory serves.

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

2 thoughts on “Aikido”

  1. It’s amazing what Aikido can do for someone both physically and mentally. I intern at an Aikido dojo called Aikido Kenkyukai Santa Barbara ( and everytime I see the kids and even the adults practice I can see how much they really enjoy it.

    I’m sorry to hear that the dojo near you has closed down. I hope that you and your family will be able to find other ways to fulfill what Aikido has fulfilled. And maybe your family will be able to find a new dojo in the near future!

    (AKSB Intern)


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