Page 30 - SilverKris September 2014

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T
he large studio of
Mugenjuku Aikido
(
aikidomugenjuku.word
press.com
) in Kyoto was
full of white-uniformed
students – circling, tumbling
and punching. Every now and
then, someone would fall on
the cushioned floor of the dojo
with a loud thump. Still, the
scene was unusually elegant
for a martial art.
I stood with a group of
beginners in my first aikido
class, clad in a white uniform. My
goal was to become like Steven
Seagal – or his stunt double.
After warming up, sensei
Rika, a slim, smiling woman,
taught us a stance called the
hanmi. Standing with one foot
perpendicular to the other, this
was key to staying in balance.
She invited a burly student to
push her off balance. He leaned
on her – and turned red in
the face. I could feel the class
collectively shift – both their
feet and their perception of our
sprightly sensei.
We were next taught the
concept of ukemi or acceptance.
Instead of using force, aikido
turns the power and momentum
of an attack back on the
perpetrator. The idea is to
bend and flex, not push back
aggressively. This is where it
differs from other martial arts.
As the practitioners whirled
around and deflected attacks,
I realised that I could mentally
do the same with criticisms
frommy mother, mother-
in-law and boss. Instead of
(figuratively) punching back, I
could pivot. Instead of deflating,
I could deflect.
We then practised tumbling
forward and backward. Some
of us succeeded, while others
looked like frogs on two legs.
Our sensei also
demonstrated how to deflect
an attack with a move from
below instead of above; this
seemed counter-intuitive but
allowed the whirl and circle
that is fundamental to aikido.
These movements look easy
and elegant but are incredibly
hard to execute. They are
effective in deflecting the
attack and subduing the
attacker – without hurting him.
Aikido is founded with
a fundamentally altruistic
motive – to prevent injury to
the attacker while protecting
oneself. As I walked out of the
session, it occurred to me that
the principles of aikido – to
make your attacker a friend –
could serve me well at work,
home, and life in general.
E S S E N T I A L S
been there
30 | SILVERKRIS.COM
FIGHT CLUB
KALARIPAYATTU
IN INDIA
One of the oldest martial
arts, dating back 2,000
years, kalaripayattu is
still widely practised
in India, particularly in
Kerala. At CVNKalari in
Thiruvananthapuram,
practitioners leap and
attack using swords,
shields and bare hands.
cvnkalari.in
KRAVMAGA IN ISRAEL
Krav maga (“contact
combat” in Hebrew),
was created for the
Israeli Defense Forces.
It’s based on military
strategy such as
attacking the opponent’s
most vulnerable spot
and using everyday
objects for defence.
KravMaga Global offers
training in Israel, and
around the world.
krav-maga.com
CAPOEIRA INBRAZIL
This mix of dance, martial
arts and acrobatics set
to traditional Brazilian
berimbau music may
look like fun. But it was
created for self defence,
with moves that mimic
those of animals. Top-
end Brazilian hotels,
including Uxua Casa,
offer lessons.
uxua.com
PHOTO
CHRIS CRAMPTON
TOUGHANDTUMBLE
In an Aikido class in Japan,
SHOBA NARAYAN
picks up
life lessons, along with self-defence moves.