Raincoast Martial arts in Port Hardy is encouraging women in the community to try something new.
They are offering Aikido training for women throughout the month of September. The dojo has invited women to attend their adult Aikido classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, free of charge.
“People don’t consider that this has anything to do with them or that it would be anything that they would like,” said kids Aikido instructor Jeanne Alley, who is also a student in the adult classes.
“It’s just to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and this helps make it possible,” she added.
Aikido means the way of spiritual harmony — it is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba.
His picture hangs in the dojo.
Aikido uses the redirection of attacks against an aggressor, focussing on throws, locks and holds, rather than strikes.
“I believe it’s super empowering, it’s something you might not consider, but it turns out to have so many amazing benefits,” said Alley, adding it’s great for women, because anyone who can lift 16 lbs. can be great at Aikido.
Aikido practitioners use joint manipulation to unbalance an opponent and redirect the attack as Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.
Alley first started Aikido in Seattle in 1999. She became interested in it after putting her son into martial arts.
“Watching from the side, it really makes sense because you just need to move your body to the right spot and it takes no muscle,” she said, adding “it’s just the neatest feeling.”
For Alley, Aikido has also been a personal growth tool, as it has helped her interact with others.
She said before she started Aikido she “couldn’t even look somebody in the eye.”
“Whatever is happening in my life echoes on the mat and whatever is on the mat echoes on in life,” she explained.
“It helps me to develop sensitivity to the way I interact with other people and recognize what I am doing in my self and how that is affecting other people.”
The classes are instructed by Sensei Andrew Hory, and even though they are free for women throughout September, men are welcome to attend as well.
Alley said it is a very welcoming environment for newcomers.
“You don’t just walk in the door and get beat up, they take it step by step,” she laughed.
The classes start Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:45 pm and participants are encouraged to wear loose clothing that allows for movement.