The Caretaker’s Test

The above picture comes from Scott Carlton’s recent 5th kyu test—the first demonstration a person gives to establish their rank as a beginner. The first time they truly come to Aikido’s front door and knock, knock, knock. At first glance, the photo seems like an innocuous and typical first test snapshot, and yet, it actually…

Aikido, App’d for Dating

I downloaded the dating app, entered a punchy profile, and uploaded some pictures. My index finger hovered over the submit button. I hadn’t dated in almost 20 years. Back then, there were no smartphones or apps, I didn’t have cirrus gray streaks in my hair, and wrinkles existed only in my laundry. Did I really…

Practice Watered Down

“Don’t change the kata,” Sensei Mark reminds the class. We stand in pairs down the mat, like characters in a Jane Austen novel about to dance a quadrille or cotillion; only we are equipped with swords, not witty repartee. We are struggling with the day’s weapons instruction. Specifically, we cannot comprehend the correct and proper…

Teaching Learning

Finally: the answer to the conundrum which has bebuggered our dojo and its instructors—maybe all dojos and instructors—since the dawn of forever! Ours cannot be the only dojo that wonders what constitutes the best practices for teaching aikido. Should you demonstrate techniques silently and allow practitioners to repeat them ad infinitum? Should you provide minimal…

How You Contribute to a Harmonious World

For almost 15 years, Durango Shin-Budo Kai has been a community resource for boosting mind-body unification, refining the spirit, and teaching nonviolent conflict resolution. As a 501(c)3, we are committed to the embodied practice of aikido as a means to increasing the peace and harmony for each practitioner, their families, the community, and beyond. As a…

The Quitting Habit

“Is there nothing that stops you?” This friendly question came from a fellow classmate as we both arrived to the dojo for class. His question roused me from my trance–mindlessly stuffing my coat, scarf, and shoes into a wooden cubby. I asked him to repeat the question. “Is there nothing that stops you from coming…

Shall We Dance?

Our dojo recently enjoyed a spectacular, technically spot-on nikyu test—nikyu meaning 2nd rank below black belt shodan. No matter what level someone is going for, Durango Shin-Budo Kai always strives for high standards. Did the candidate know the vocabulary? Did he execute the correct technique? Did she demonstrate poise and focus in the present moment?…

A Choice in the Matter

I could have gone blind the light was so bright. It blazed so abruptly. I didn’t have time to take cover and shield my eyes. This luminous assault happened a few nights ago in class as we picked apart kata toris, shoulder grabs. Sensei Mark demonstrated some of the atemis, or strikes, available to the…