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Meet the Members: Renzosan

Falls Road Aikido is for everybody: young, middle-aged, older; thin, thick; practicing athletes, possible athletes, and maybe those who don’t consider themselves very athletic! We know it can be a little intimidating to come to a new place and learn alongside unfamiliar faces, so this week we start bringing them to you. Read a little bit about our immensely diverse membership, see the potential in yourself, and come on by and give Falls Road Aikido a try!

What drew you to Aikido? How long have you been practicing?
I was drawn to Aikido by its defensive nature and our Sempai, or senior student, Cara-Michele Nether. I could never see myself starting a fight but I could see myself in one with the need to defend myself. I knew nothing about Aikido until I met Sempai Cara-Michele. As she explained Aikido’s defensive philosophy to me I was so struck by her dynamism and sincerity that I had to give aikido a try. My first Aikido class was on August 13, 2012. I’ve been “on the mat” ever since.
Meet Renzo, one of the senior students at Falls Road Aikido!
At what age / stage in your life did you begin your journey?
I took my first lesson with Sempai Cara-Michele two weeks before my 65th birthday. I had always been involved in team and individual sports. I wanted to learn a new sport that would keep me in good shape, teach me a useable skill and be fun to practice. Aikido fit all of those criteria for me.
What was your first class like?
My first class was both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. I found it exhilarating to learn how powerful simple techniques like stepping off line to avoid a blow could be. At the same time, my mind was accustomed to the use of straight-ahead brute force and not the physical finesse that Aikido requires. Learning to do less rather than more in Aikido is still a challenge for me. I also remember that I had had a good physical workout when class was over without really feeling tired because I had enjoyed myself so much.
What intimidated you about Aikido?
Nothing really intimidated me about Aikido. I found ukemi, the art of falling to be challenging but not intimidating. Aikido has taught me that being knocked to the ground can be more damaging than the blow that put me there. Accordingly, Aikido emphasizes ukemi as a way to instinctively protect oneself when falling. It took me a while to learn how to fall but persistence paid off and I can now “fall” with the best of my fellow students.
How quickly did you see improvement in yourself?
Surprisingly, my life off of the mat improved more quickly from aikido than did my practice on the mat. The philosophy of Aikido has taught me that it is unproductive to meet force with force in any situation in life. I have yet to get into a fight on the street but I have had the usual every day confrontations with everyone from co-workers to family members to other drivers on the road. My Aikido training has allowed me to negotiate those confrontations with grace and ease rather than anger and frustration. As to my performance on the mat, I improve every time I practice. Sometimes a lot and some times a little, but I always improve with each practice.
What was your biggest challenge with Aikido?
My biggest challenge is to “get out of my head” when practicing. Aikido has taught me that my body has instinctual knowledge of how I should move. If I just trust my body it will take me where I need to be and do what I need to do. As easy as that sounds, for me it is very difficult to tell my mind to “let go” and just move without thinking. Aikido is a system for personal growth. Learning to let go and go with the flow will probably be a life-long challenge for me. I know I will never totally “get it” because there’s always something more to learn in Aikido.
If you’re interested in meeting Renzo and the other students and rolling around on the mat with us, don’t hesitate to contact Falls Road Aikido and ask about Adult Beginner’s classes starting January 16th, 2017. 
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What Members of Falls Road Aikido Have to Say:

"My training in Kinokawa Aikido has been one of the most influential experiences of my life. Real and honest budo training has allowed me to become thoughtfully calm and patient in my everyday experiences. Effortless and unexpected power are now regular companions of my being. It is a true honor to share this amazing martial art with the people who choose to show up on the mat week after week and year after year. I welcome anyone who would like to live with more grace to stop by roll around on the mat with us."

Sempai Cara-Michele Nether July 2, 2015

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