An Aikido class for children
Two groups of children and teenagers train regularly at the Takemusu Dojo, an Aikido school located in the center of the Gradelle area in Geneva.
The practice of this traditional Japanese martial art gives them the opportunity to develop many qualities. Regular training in the techniques reinforces the young pupils’ physical aptitudes: coordination of movements, balance, stamina and endurance. Children quickly learn how to fall without hurting themselves, and how to remain flexible to avoid injury. But it also teaches them to focus their attention by remaining still and quiet, and to channel their energy.
There are no groups for specific levels. All children practice together in age groups, the little ones (7 to 11) from 5.15 to 6.15 p.m. and the older ones (11 to 15) from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m. This mix enables beginners to make rapid progress. They can practice with and learn from more experienced children. Instructors pay particular attention to respect and safety. These are two core values in the martial arts.
Over the years, young practitioners learn to sense what’s going on around them, to act appropriately in any situation, without waiting, and to stay centered. They develop a greater sense of tranquillity and the ability to take their rightful place.
The atmosphere is cheerful before training, with children running and playing all over the dojo. As soon as the practice begins, it becomes serious and focused. When the children return home, it’s often with bouncing joy. At the dojo, they’ve put down some of the day’s fatigue and weight, and filled up with renewed energy.
Two free trial classes are available for all interested children. More information is available here.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
Roaming Seminar Jura – April 20-22, 2023
After an hour’s train journey and an hour’s walk, the forest closes in just behind us, enveloping us completely. Great nature sucks us into its kingdom. At first, I feel like a stranger, as a tourist.
A long walk in single file.
United and silent hikers. Each moves forward in his own silence. Mine sometimes leads me astray. Then it brings me back to the moment, called by the song of a bird or the presence of a young deer. Nature tries to penetrate the fortress of my mind and, little by little, succeeds.
First practice with our gi.
The brilliant whiteness of the gi seems to belong to another dimension. These gis and their wearers radiate a light that makes me dizzy. I’m struck by this almost dreamlike vision. I seem to be seeing Aikido practitioners for the first time. The surrounding forest carries the practice.
Majestic march in single file.
Switching the bamboo bo from one hand to the other, sporadically clashing it with a stone on the path, we move forward one behind the other. We make our way through the forest with no other aim than to become one with it. Nature is vast, and each place is sufficient , generous.
The destination seems paltry, or even non-existent. In fact, I get lost. I have no sense of space or time. The days stretch, distort and multiply. Places come together by their beauty and stand out by their vegetation.
Snow is present. It’s cold. A raw cold that seeps in between each step, that rushes in by pushing the door open every time the body is at a standstill, every time the body is at rest. So the movement can’t stop. The nights are hard and interrupted. I put on all my layers and dread its arrival. The cold penetrates at the moment of relaxation, when alertness drops and muscles relax. And so the practice continues at night.
Very last gi practice.
We put them on under an almost rainy sky. The rain, being generous, only seems to give us time to change clothes. The pasture is soggy and muddy, but this time we roll. The joy and excitement of rolling in the grass brings us together. Our feet slip in the mud and the rain continues, light but present.
Breathless, hair sticking to my face, I feel fully alive.
Soaked and brown gis, twigs on my forehead, my body in direct contact with earth, as happy as children playing in the mud.
After three days and two nights, the woods had left a few marks on my being. The great nature has revealed the one in me. I feel less of a stranger.
Through the trees and the moss, the Shin Kokkyu and the Wazas, the rain and the hailstones, our aching bodies are loosening and our hearts are binding with each other and with everything.
Thank you so much.
An Aikido practitioner
Aikido has changed my life… it’s something I never would have imagined when I started. The movement started, and I decided to follow it… it took time!
There are days when certain words, heard hundreds of times, suddenly take on their full meaning, start to resonate strongly enough to have a profound and significant impact, calling for action and decision!
There are practices that shake up and liberate, practices that exhaust and invite questioning. There are practices where I feel particularly good and full of energy that I want to share; and there are practices where I need the energy of the group to stand up. There are practices where laughter and spontaneity arrive and others where the rigor and the martial aspect take over.
One thing is certain for me: no matter what happens, I always come out of my dojo a better person.
As in my daily life, the dojo is the expression of a palette of emotions, encounters and situations, which follow one another but never resemble one another!
The “ballet” of these emotions, the accumulation of memories on the tatami and outside with the other members of my dojo, the courage to come and practice when the desire is lacking or when tiredness takes over, have helped me, for the last 5 years, to go through the different difficult moments of my life with the certainty that I will always come out of these moments grown up and that I had a family to rely on if it was necessary.
All this has allowed me to avoid losing sight of the essential… LIFE itself!
The dojo is for me a place of peace and letting go, I am the only one who decides how I will live the practice that is coming up… and I am also the only one who decides the importance I give to the teachings I receive.
I have exported many of these teachings into my daily life. They have caused me to lose some of my relatives and “friends” but have allowed me to meet people who think positively, accept me as I am, allow me to be myself and have a real group spirit.
What I was looking for, I did not find in Aikido… Aikido allowed me to find it within myself!
How did I get into Aikido?
I came to Aikido late in life, at the age of thirty. I was attracted to both the graceful movements of dance and the mysterious aspect of martial arts. Aikido combines these two aspects. One day, a friend told me that he was going to start Aikido. I followed his lead.
What did Aikido bring me?
An unsuspected universe, vast new plains. Confidence. A tranquility and inner peace that is difficult to shake.
A deep connection to myself, to life, to others. Little by little, I learned to see beyond appearances, to feel deeply the nature, my surroundings and myself.
A certain clarity of mind. By gradually detaching myself from my conditioning, from my mind, from my ego, I had more access to intuition, to this direct link between life and myself. My thoughts, my words and my actions have thus become freer and more appropriate.
Why do I continue to practice?
I wish to preserve and maintain this exceptional state of clarity, alertness and availability to what manifests itself at any moment. I do not wish to return to a state of semi-somnolence. So I train myself daily to maintain this clarity, just as I brush my teeth to keep them clean.
Intensive training in the cold, in the pure Kumano tradition.
What power, what strength, what beauty, what joy, what inner peace! After facing the winter cold every morning before sunrise, the mind is polished, the soul purified, the body invigorated. We feel peaceful, fully connected to the present moment, without pursuing any goals or gains, ready to welcome what life offers us. A vast, clear sky!
Aikido: Masakatsu agatsu katsu hayabi
Practice of purification to enter the new year.
Sunday 9th of January 2022. The lake is as gray as the sky, the cold wind lifts a few waves, the water is at 7 °C, and the air at 1 °C. In unison, the aikidokas, wearing only their dogi, greet the elements and then each other. This is followed by a series of purification cuts with the sword in the direction of the four cardinal points. Vigor and powerful kiai are needed to overcome the cold weather.
Then the jackets are removed and the aikidokas step into the water, barefoot. There they begin the age-old ritual movements from Japan in order to purify themselves and to become one with this beautiful winter nature, with the large lake, the snowy mountains surrounding it, the elegant flight of the seagulls passing by, the two majestic swans strolling, gracious and insensitive to the cold. The clouds part, a ray of wonderful and clear sunshine underlines the end of the practice. Late Hikitsuchi Sensei, 10th Dan, would have said with a smile: “We purified the sky!”
One of the aikidokas gives the following testimonial:
“Whatever my life experiences and whatever burden I have collected this year, the practice of misogi comforts me and fills me with a new energy to face and live fully my life and this new year.”
There are only a few testimonials in English. You can read all of them in the French version.