Upcoming Seminars at Nashville Aikikai

Nashville Aikikai announces 3 upcoming seminars:

Our very own Mary McIntire Sensei (5th dan and Ueshiba Juku instructor) will be teaching a seminar on the two sword techniques of Mitsugi Saotome Sensei on April 13 and 14, 2019.  Participants should have a basic understanding of aiki sword as taught by Saotome Sensei.  Keiko will be Saturday at 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM and Sunday at 10:00 AM.  Cost is $100 or $35 per class.

Nashville Aikikai is pleased to welcome Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei, 7th dan, of Boulder Aikikai for his annual spring seminar on May 17-19, 2019.  We always look forward to his explorations of internal power in Aikido.  Keiko will be Friday at 6:30 PM, Saturday at 10:00 am and 3:00 PM and Sunday at 10:00 AM.  Cost is $150 or $45 per class.

Finally, Nashville Aikikai is honored to host our annual fall seminar with Tres Hofmeister Sensei, 7th dan, of Boulder Aikikai on October 4-6, 2018.  Hofmeister Sensei has a unique understanding of movement which he applies to his Aikido technique and teaching.  Keiko will be Friday at 6:30 PM, Saturday at 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM, and Sunday at 10:00 AM.  Cost is $130 or $40 per class.

Seminar flyers can be found on the Upcoming Seminars Page.

Why Study Aikido

We live in difficult times.  There is a general lack of respect for and civility towards one another.  Almost daily there is another mass shooting.  Intolerance and hate are on the rise, whether it is directed toward women, African Americans, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, or anyone else who is perceived as “the other.”  How do we move from a culture of violence to one of peace?  I would propose that we do this as we do everything else – one step at a time, one person at a time.  One means to pursue this goal of personal change and growth is the practice of Aikido.


To study a martial art to achieve peace seems an oxymoron.  We might choose martial arts classes for our children to promote self-discipline, self-confidence, and physical fitness.  However, the popular culture view of martial arts practice as two individuals engaged in combat to the death, or at least to the tap out, likely does not appeal to those individuals who are seeking a more peaceful and harmonious approach to life.


Make no mistake, Aikido is a martial art.  It is also “The Art of Peace.”  Morihei Ueshiba (known as 0’Sensei, or Great Teacher) developed the art from a deep understanding of both martial and spiritual principles.  There is a clear moral underpinning to the practice of Aikido.  If a person does harm to another, that person stains his own spirit.  If I, as a practitioner of Aikido, understand this, then I have a responsibility to protect that person from staining his spirit.  Thus, if you attack me, I have a duty to neutralize your attack in a way that prevents you from harming me and in a way that does not harm you.  To do this, I have to have a clear understanding of martial principle, and then choose to use only that force necessary to keep us both safe.  Or, as I like to say, if you attack me and I don’t kill you because I don’t know how to do so, that is incompetence.  If I know how to kill and choose not to, that is a moral decision.


Is Aikido technique effective to neutralize an attacker with an assault rifle?  Absolutely not.  Unfortunately, that typically requires another person with an assault rifle.  And then, where does it end?  One act of violence begetting another and another.  Instead, Aikido offers us a different way to think about conflict and its resolution.  In Aikido, we do not spar.  There are not winners or losers.  We engage in paired, cooperative practice so that each person can learn and grow.  We do not conflict with our partner’s movements, we blend with them, reaching a harmonious conclusion to the “attack.”  When we train, we respect our partner for who they are in that moment, whatever that person brings to the mat.  Our growth as individuals carries the whole group forward.


Aikido is a physical manifestation of the business philosophy of win-win.  In our daily life, the practice of aikido can help us to deal with interpersonal conflict in a more productive way.  Instead of meeting anger with anger, or shying away from conflict, we learn to accept each individual for who and where they are and to harmonize with them to craft a mutually agreeable outcome.  This is the practice of Aikido in our daily life.  If each of us carries forward that spirit of mutual respect and of a shared decision making process whose goal is for each party emerges better off, then one person at a time, one encounter at time, the world becomes a better place.


Perhaps Aikido interests you?  If so, drop by for one of our Saturday morning introductory sessions to see how it is we train our minds and bodies in The Art of Peace.  We hope to see you on the mat.





Kagami Biraki – January 18th


Kagami Biraki are celebrations that mark significant events, the most common being the celebration of the New Year.  Its origins can be traced to the 4th Tokogawa Shogun, who opened a sake barrel as an offering on the eve of war.  Since the war was won, opening a sake barrel prior to an auspicious event has become common practice.  For us, Kagami Biraki is a time when we rededicate ourselves to our Aikido practice.  Instead of a second Friday class in January, we will be having a Kagami Biraki Celebration on the 3rd Friday, January 18th.  We would like as many dojo members as possible to join us for this very special day in the life of the dojo.  There will be class at 6:30, followed by dinner.  I look forward to seeing everyone at the dojo.


Holiday Charity

Again this year, Nashville Aikikai will be raising money to support the Shade Tree Clinic.  The Shade Tree Clinic is a free clinic run by Vanderbilt Medical Students to provide high quality primary care to the underinsured in Davidson County.  The Shade Tree Clinic forms interdisciplinary teams of medical, nursing, pharmacy, and law students who are supervised by professionals in these fields to provide healthcare and social services free-of-charge to this community. The clinic welcomes all patients, regardless of their race, residency, gender, socioeconomic status, or religious affiliation.  Since opening, the clinic has provided services to over 4,000 patients.  For more information, please see the Shade Tree clinic 2016-2017 Annual Report: https://shadetreeclinic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/2016-2017-Shade-Tree-Annual-Report.pdf.

Last year, Nashville Aikikai donated $750 to the clinic.  Any donation which dojo member can make is appreciated.  We will collect until the first of the year.  Many thanks to all the support that Nashville Aikikai has given to this important organization over the years.  We know that lack of access to quality primary care is a significant contributor to disparities in health outcomes and to overall healthcare costs.



Most of the holiday schedule

Please be aware of the following holiday schedule:

Wednesday, November 21 – AM class – No decision yet

Wednesday, November 21 – PM class – cancelled

Thursday, November 22 (Thanksgiving) – AM class at 06:30 -WILL BE HELD

Thursday, November 22 (Thanksgiving) – PM class – cancelled

Monday, December 24 (Christmas Eve) and Tuesday, December 25 (Christmas Day) – cancelled.

Monday, December 31 (New Years Eve) – PM class – cancelled

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday season.



Saotome Sensei and Mary Sensei

Welcome back to Mary Sensei, who spent last weekend in Florida training with Saotome Sensei at the Ranch.  Below, please see Mary Sensei’s recent email regarding the importance of attending seminars.

“I’d like to stress the importance of seminars.

In addition to regular training at the dojo, attending seminars is the way to improve your Aikido.

Different instructors explain things in different ways, emphasize different points, and even do techniques in different ways.  These differences can be very helpful to your understanding of the art.  They’ll give you ideas that you can continue to work on in the dojo.  If you don’t have opportunities during class to work on things you pick up at seminars, you can grab a partner and work on those things before or after class.

Additionally, training with people from other dojos is often eye-opening.  You get used to the way people attack and take ukemi in your home dojo.  People from other dojos will be slightly different.  Adjusting to those differences is great training — Aikido is all about adjusting so that you can deal with life and those around you.