Aikido of El Paso

Aikido – the way of harmony with the force of nature

"Aikido is the principle of non-resistance. Because it is non-resistant it is victorious from the beginning.
Those with evil intentions or contentious thought are instantly vanquished.”

- Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido

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Welcome to Our Dojo

Aikido is a true budo or Martial way Developed early in the 20th century by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969).

Aikido of El Paso offers self-defense instruction using the Japanese martial art of Aikido. Since 1997, Aikido of El Paso has been teaching the dynamic techniques and weapons of Aikido, in El Paso and the Juarez communities,
following the traditional hombu aikido style.

Visitors are welcome at Aikido of El Paso. Interested individuals may observe our regularly scheduled classes. Aikido of El Paso is member of the United States Aikido Federation, under the direction of Yoshimitsu Yamada, 8th dan, Shihan, a direct student of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969).

Aikido evolved in the historic tradition of Japanese warrior arts, growing out of the “hard style” combative arts such as judo,
jujutsu and sword fighting.

In Japanese, Aikido means “the way of harmony with the force of nature.”

AI

Ki

Do

What is Aikido?

"Aikido is not for correcting others, but for correcting your own mind."

− Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido

Aikido is a true budo or Martial way, developed early in the 20th century by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969). In Japanese, Aikido means “the way of harmony with the force of nature”. Aikido evolved in the historic tradition of Japanese warrior arts, growing out of the “hard style” combative arts such as judo, jujutsu and sword fighting. Yet it offers more, studied in earnest it is a path for perfecting the spirit, a “way” to spiritual growth.

The movements of Aikido are designed to take the force directed aggressively at one by others and divert it. Often by doing this, the force of the aggressor acts as his or her own downfall. Unable to transfer their aggression to you, it overextends their motions and throws them off balance. Aikido then harmonizes with and neutralizes the aggressor’s force, the attack being redirected into a throw or joint lock.

Aikido can also be a means of getting out of the way of an attack, without escalating the fight and without “punishing” the attacker. A decent goal and a different perspective for those who often see martial arts portrayed as arts of destruction.

Training involves physical, mental, ethical disciplines. It includes empty hand techniques, sword, stick and knife defenses. Aikido techniques are not based on pitting one’s strength against another’s. Students learn to defend themselves without exhibiting violent or aggressive behavior. Self esteem, concentration, awareness and focusing power, are enhanced. Unlike Western approaches to self-control, the Eastern perception acknowledges one’s talents and weaknesses and develops them for the most harmonious individual outcome. Western approaches have developed along authoritarian lines of self-denial, self-abuse, conversion of personal freedom to subservience to human authority or the system.

Aikido has no contests. It is based on mutual respect, cooperation and friendship. It’s philosophy, ideals and ethics are inseparable from actual Aikido training. Aikido is a logical conclusion of it’s philosophy, since winning and losing are never a concern, students are free to dedicate their efforts to mutual goals. Each individual trains and progresses at his or her own pace finding harmony through personal development. After a period of time practice brings a sense of well being and self-confidence along with awareness that permeates all aspects of daily life. Training with people of different personalities, lifestyles, temperament, students learn to reconcile diverse points of view.

History of Aikido: The Founder of Aikido Morihei Ueshiba (1883 – 1969)

The roots of Aikido date back to feudal Japan. Present day Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba, called O’Sensei, great teacher.

O’Sensei’s lifetime spanned a time of profound evolution for the Japanese people, it began in the late stages of feudalism and ended in a modern technological world. O’sensei was born on December 14, 1883 in Tanabe a small fishing village near Osaka.

O’Sensei studied a variety of traditional martial arts including jujitsu, unarmed combat, kenjutsu, sword fighting and sojitsu, spear fighting. He became one of the most renowned martial artists of his day. Through his many arduous years of training in Budo, Japanese martial arts. He became very strong and was considered unbeatable.

Along with budo O’Sensei was a serious student of religion and a man of high spiritual understanding. His gift of Aikido merged these two seemingly diametrically opposed concepts into one. He came to the realization that fighting was a futile means of resolving conflicts. Even the most accomplished warriors must succumb to time and ageing, in the end defeat is inevitable. By using the principles of all religions, love and compassion, he changed what is possible when confronted with a violent attack. Instead of destroying an attacker with superior strength and skill, he taught you could transform the attacker with your energy and actions. He felt that winning at someone else’s expense was nor really winning. As long as there was a winner and a loser there was no victory, he came to realize that true victory is not winning over others, but winning over the conflict within ourselves.

In 1915 Ueshiba met Sokaku Takeda, the grandmaster of Aikijutsu, Daito Ryu they formed a close relationship traveling and teaching together. There can be no doubt that Takeda had a very strong influence on O’Sensei’s early style.

In 1920 Ueshiba met a man who helped shape his religious beliefs, Wanisburo Deguchi, a teacher and a mystic. In 1925 O’Sensei experienced a ‘satori’, enlightenment, which is considered to be one of the most important events in the birth of Aikido. It happened while walking in his garden. In O’Sensei’s words, he felt the ground shake and a golden light washed over him, at that moment he understood that the source of all budo is God’s love.

In April 1931, the original Hombu dojo was opened, known as the hell dojo because of the severe training. During 1942 he moved to Iwama where he set up a dojo and an aiki shrine. He continued to teach, but spent much of his time farming, more teaching was turned over to his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba. It was during this time period that Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, met Ueshiba and remarked after having seen Ueshiba that “this is my ideal budo”, and began sending his best students to study with O’Sensei.

In 1954 the headquarters of Aikido moved back to Tokyo and took the title Aikikai Foundation. On December 15, 1967, that dojo was replaced by a modern three story dojo that continues to be used today.

O’Sensei’s aikido was believed by many to be at its strongest in his seventies. In the years before his death O’Sensei was still reportedly able to perform amazing feats of strength and speed.

O’Sensei’s aikido went through many changes throughout his life, there being a definite change between his pre-war and post-war styles. In 1964 emperor Hirohito, recognizing his contribution to the martial arts. Morihei Ueshiba continued his practice and teaching until his death. He gave his final demonstration on January 15, 1969. He was diagnosed as having liver cancer and died on April 26, 1969, at age 86. Posthumously the Japanese government bestowed its highest honor, declaring Morihei Ueshiba to be a Sacred National Treasure of Japan.

Yamada Yoshimitsu, Shihan

Yamada Yoshimitsu was born on February 17th, 1938. In 1955 he entered the Hombu Dojo as an Uchi deshi (live-in student), receiving instruction from the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. After three years of training he became a full time instructor, teaching at American military bases and Japanese universities.

In 1964, having achieved 4th Dan he traveled to the United States. Upon arriving he gave an Aikido demonstration at the 1964 World’s Fair, scenes of which are preserved on available videos. He assumed his role as the head of the New York Aikikai, while attending New York University to study English and business management.

Now an 8th Dan, Yamada sensei, has dedicated himself to the dissemination of Aikido throughout the world. Much of Aikido’s present success is because of this Shihan, his teaching demonstrations are widely attended and enthusiastically participated in, by aikidoists.

Currently Yamada Yoshimitsu is the Chairman of the United States Aikido Federation and head of it’s Eastern Region. He is President of the Latin American Aikido Federation, with over 400 dojos in South, Central America, and the Caribbean, spread throughout Argentina. Brazil, Bolivia, Columbia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and Venezuela. He leads the technical committee for North America and is a member of the Supreme Council of the International Federation of Aikido. Yamada sensei also travels extensively throughout Europe, leading seminars in many former Soviet bloc countries.

Yamada sensei is the author of several books on Aikido, the most recent Aikido Complete. He has also made several excellent training videos, covering basics and testing for the kyu ranks.

Quotes and Thoughts:
Morihei Ueshiba (1883 – 1969)

Ki in Translation

Through budo I trained my body thoroughly and mastered its ultimate secrets, but I also realized an even greater truth. That is, when I grasped the real nature of the universe through budo, I saw clearly that human beings must unite mind and body and the ki that connects the two and then achieve harmony with the activity of all things in the universe.

By virtue of the subtle workings of ki we harmonize mind and body and the relationship between the individual and the universe. When the subtle working of ki is unhealthy, the world falls into confusion, and the universe into chaos. The harmonizing of united ki-mind-body with the activity of the universe is critical for order and peace in the world.

The subtle working of ki is the maternal source that effects delicate changes in breath. It is also the source of martial art as love. When one unifies mind and body by virtue ofki and manifests ai-ki [harmony of ki], delicate changes in breath-power occur spontaneously and waza [proper technique] flows freely.

The changing in breath, connected with the ki of the universe, interacts and interpenetrates with all life. At the same time the delicate breath-power enters into all corners of one’s body. Entering deeply, it fill one with vitality, resulting naturally in variegated, dynamic, spontaneous movements. In this way the whole body, including the internal organs, becomes united in heat, light, and power. Having accomplished unification of mind and body and being in oneness with the universe, the body moves at will offering no resistance to one’s intentions.

The delicate changes in breath cause subtle movements of ki in the void. Sometimes movements are fierce and potent, at other times slow and stolid. By such changes one can discern the degree of concentration or unification of the mind and body. When concentration permeates mind and body, breath-power becomes one with the universe, gently and naturally expanding the outer limit, but at the same time the person becomes increasingly self-contained and autonomous. In this way when breath works together with the universe, the unseen spiritual presence becomes a reality within oneself, enfolding and protecting and defending the self. This an introduction to the profound essence of ai-ki. Morihei Ueshiba quoted by Kisshomaru Ueshiba in The Spirit of Aikido, pg 30, 1984.

Non-resistance

Aikido is the way of nonresistance and is therefore undefeatable from the start. Fast and slow are of no consequence. Merely by having the intention to fight with one who embodies the universal law, they have fixed their mind on violating the harmony of nature itself. The person with evil or malicious feeling jyaki is defeated before he makes his first move. The contest has already been decided.

This being so, in what way can we rid ourselves of this jyaki and become pure of spirit and mind? We must unify our mind and feeling with the mercy and compassion of the universal spirit. With love ai, there is no competition, no enemy, no antagonism toward anyone else or anything. Those whose feeling does not coincide with this mentality can in no way come into harmony with the laws of nature. Morihei Ueshiba – from { The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido } by William Gleason 1995.

Reminders in Aikido Practice

Aikido decides life and death in a single strike, so students must carefully follow the instructor’s teaching and not compete to see who is the strongest. Aikido is the way that teaches how one can deal with several enemies. Students must train themselves to be alert not just to the front but to all sides and back. Training should always be conducted in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere. The instructor teaches only one small aspect of the art. Its versatile applications must be discovered by each student through incessant practice and training. In daily practice first begin by moving your body and then progress to more intensive practice. Never force anything unnaturally or unreasonably. If this rule is followed then even elderly people will not hurt themselves and they can train in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere. The purpose of aikido is to train mind and body and to produce sincere, earnest people. Since all techniques are to be transmitted person-to-person, do not randomly reveal them to others, for this might lead to their being used by hoodlums. Morihei Ueshiba (ca. 1935).

Our Instructors

"A psychological study found that children in martial arts have an increased sense of responsibility, a decrease in the willingness to take foolish risks, and a higher sense of self-esteem."

− NAPMA
Paul_Forhan

Head Instructor Paul Forhan

Began studying martial arts in 1965. He started his study of Aikido in 1990 at UTEP with Medina sensei. During the fall of 1990 Paul also began attending classes at the New York Aikikai, headquarters for the United States Aikido Federation, living at the dojo on a part time basis. This led to associations with numerous senior Federation instructors and a close working relationship with Yamada sensei, 8th Dan, Shihan, a direct student of the founder of aikido.

Additionally, Paul currently holds the rank of Yondan and also, Shidoin, senior instructor and examiner, from the World Aikikai Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.

Traveling around the United States and the world to attend numerous seminars with senior Shihans, Paul, continues to study and practice at the New York Aikikai, while instructing full time at Aikido of El Paso. Paul also is a member of the Board of Directors of the United States Aikido Federation.

Mario_Marquez

Instructor Mario Marquez

Mario Marquez began aikido training in 1997 at Aikido of El Paso. Mario currently holds the rank of Nidan from the World Aikikai Headquarters through the United States Aikido Federation. Mario continues his study of aikido, attending major seminars throughout the United States, taught by the leading Shihans of the USAF.

Our Programs

"I had been practicing Aikido for a short time when this incident occurred. During an apprehension the individual turned and rushed me, without thought, I moved, applied Ikkyo, and the guy was spun off his feet and to the ground onto his face with no effort ... really amazing!"

− 11 year Border Patrol Agent

We at Aikido of El Paso understand the importance of instilling the character traits of responsibility, respect, discipline, self confidence and wise choice making skills in youth. Our Youth Program teaches practical and proven self-defense methods, in addition to enforcing clear rules of good behavior to be followed in class and at home. Our highly qualified and patient instructors are trained in effective teaching strategies to reach youth of all abilities. The style of martial art we teach, Aikido, encourages cooperative behaviors in class that aid young people in dealing with daily life challenges without the use of tournaments and competitions. Competition is developed within the individual to better themselves, not directed outward to dominate others.

Youth Aikido
Ages 7 to 15

This program is for students 7 – 15 years of age. elements of this course include body movement, flexibility exercised, drills that instill coordination, while enhancing skills for focus, attention and following instructions. Not only concerned with the physical aspects, we introduce Japanese language, safety awareness and a sense of self-discipline. When students improve in these areas they again confidence, awareness and respect for others. As students progress they incrementally begin learning conflict resolution, character development and partner practice. The curriculum continues to build toward a deeper understanding of Aikido techniques and the ability to use them in expanding scenarios. Nominated teens in the program are invited to participate in the Shidousha (mentor, coaching) program. Shidousha members learn how to help junior members, receive additional leadership instruction and are entitled to additional training privileges reserved for the serious student. Each class is 45 minutes in length and a student may attend all scheduled youth classes.

Adult Aikido
Ages 16 and up

Designed for aikidoka (students of Aikido) of all ages 16 and up to enjoy the benefits of Aikido. More than just a type of self-defense Aikido training an effective way to increase flexibility, increase strength, decrease stress and weight, and exercise while learning a traditional martial art. Students are able to train at their own individual levels, in classes conducted to meet everyone’s needs. Experienced instructors are present to help you at every step. What is expected of you is a willingness to try, attend classes and enjoy the learning experience. Unlike going to a gym which one student described as being on a stair stepper to nowhere martial arts training offers life changing benefits that improve mental and physical abilities delving into the mind-body connection. Aikido of El Paso offers an extensive schedule to meet most needs, with unlimited training available. Most classes are in session for 55 minutes.

Test Requirements

View the United States Aikido Federation Test Requirements here.

Our Schedule

Adult Classes

Day Time  Level
Monday 12:00 – 1:00pm
6:30 – 7:25pm
7:30 – 8:20pm
Basic/Beginner
Basic/Beginner
Mixed
Tuesday 12:00 – 1:00pm Mixed
Wednesday 6:30 – 7:25pm

7:30 – 8:20pm

Basic/Beginner

Mixed

Thursday 12:00 – 1:00pm
6:30 – 7:25pm
7:30 – 8:20pm
Basic/Beginner
Basic/Beginner
Mixed
Friday
Saturday 10:45 – 11:40pm
11:45 – 12:40pm
12:45 – 1:20pm
Mixed
Mixed
Mixed
Sunday 12:00 – 1:00pm All Weapons

Youth Classes

Day Time  Level
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday 5:00 – 5:45pm  Basic/Beginner
Thursday 5:00 – 5:45pm  Basic/Beginner
Friday
Saturday  9:30 – 10:15am  Basic/Beginner
Sunday

Beginner Classes:

Basic and beginning classes are for everyone, senior and more advanced students are encouraged to participate. These classes will have more explanation with the practice of basic techniques and the art of falling, “ukemi”. Beginning students will become comfortable with falling and the fundamentals of footwork and body movement. Classes are taught in a traditional manner, new students are blended in with the more experienced, however additional attention is given until they are comfortable.

Youth Classes:

Children’s classes are taught in a friendly, non-competitive atmosphere. Children are taught falling and basic techniques through Aikido drills. The exercises help develop, reflexes, coordination, concentration, relaxation, while learning respect, cooperation and discipline. Children are taught self-defense without becoming overly aggressive and gain the confidence of being able to handle themselves in stressful circumstances.

General Classes:

General classes are conducted at a faster pace, with less emphasis on explanation and more on practice and experimentation, allowing students more individual practice. During general classes, the weapons of bokken, jo and tanto are introduced and used. Admission to general classes is at the discretion of the sensei teaching.

Weapons Classes:

Aikido weapons are the foundation for understanding empty hands technique. Bokken (wooden sword) and Jo (staff), are the traditional aikido weapons. Students learn katas, partnered practice, and weapons taking. The class is open to all students.

Instructor: Paul Forhan

Test Requirements

View the United States Aikido Federation Test Requirements here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is aikido realistic for self-defense?

Yes, aikido is a very effective form of self-defense, however being defensive does not mean being passive, aikido techniques require an active attack. Find a martial art that fits your personality and philosophy, that you can stay with for many years. It can take considerable time and effort to gain street effectiveness in aikido or any other martial art.

Does it take longer to learn aikido, than other martial arts?

The short answer is yes. How long it takes, like many skills, depends on individual dedication and commitment. How long would it take for you to master a musical instrument? If you react to a dangerous situation with disproportionate tension, fear or anger, no amount of training will help you. Aikido teaches a relaxed awareness and emphasizes blending with, rather than blocking and stopping an attack, making it ideal for defending against more powerful or multiple aggressors.

Is aikido better than other martial arts?

There is no answer for this question. Kung Fu, Karate, Tae Kwon do, all emphasize powerful strikes and competitions as a training method. Aikido uses strikes to distract and/or impact sensitive nerves. Judo and Ju Jitsu often involve more grappling than Aikido in a one on one situations. Aikido emphasizes multiple attacks, not getting bogged down with one attacker. As for effectiveness that depends upon a person’s disposition. If you are best suited for Judo for example than that art will be the most effective for you. Aikido, while characterized as defensive in some circles, can be quite offensive and deadly. However these aspects are not emphasized.

There is a lot of bowing, is this a martial art or a religion?

This is a Japanese martial art and is taught in a traditional manner, bowing is part of the proper etiquette. The rituals are a way of expressing respect towards aikido, your partners, your teacher and yourself. There is no religion involved, just as a cast bowing to an audience at the end of a performance has no religious connotations.

Aikido looks choreographed, why doesn’t the attacker fight more?

As aikido students progress and both nage, the thrower and uke, the one being thrown, learn to protect themselves. With experience, the attacks become faster and the resistance greater, creating a realistic scenario. Many of the techniques are dangerous if someone resists. If uke does not fight the movement nage is able to put considerable power into the technique without fear of injuring uke. To reach this level of proficiency takes time, in the mean time, partners cooperate with each other as they practice towards that goal.

Are there competitions in aikido?

O Sensei felt that competition was incompatible with the principals of Aikido, therefore the majority of Aikido schools do not have competitions or tournaments. Aikido does not use competitions for a few primary reasons. Competitions require rules, which are not present in actual self-defense conditions. Competition also tends to encourage a desire to win, to defeat, to dominate, destroy or overpower another human being. All being directly opposed to the underlying principles of Aikido, as it relates to the elimination of the selfish ego. A mutual relationship of partners not opponents is necessary to minimize the chance of injury while practicing potentially dangerous techniques.

How do you attain rank in aikido, how long does it take to become a black belt?

By testing according to United States Aikido Federation guidelines, these are published and readily available for viewing. There are two belts in aikido, white and black. Students progress through the white belt kyu ranks 5th thru 1st, then the black belt dan ranks. Aikido is a challenging martial art and someone should expect to train for 5 to 7 years to achieve black belt rank. Shodan the 1st back belt, literally means, “beginning”, not that aikido has been mastered. Aikido involves more than techniques, it can become a way of life, a method of personal transformation.

I am interested, can I try a class?

An introductory course is available to give a brief Aikido experience. Aikido requires patience to learn and a commitment to the process. Realistically a minimum of two months or about twelve classes, will normally allow you to decide if aikido is right for you.

Why does he fall down for her?

An aikido throw can look so improbably smooth and effortless that it is easy to believe it is faked. It isn’t – it’s physics. The laws of physics are as strictly enforced at aikido schools as they are at ski slopes. If you have ever been a beginning skier, you know from painful experience just how devastating those forces can be. Saying the attacker fell down “for” the aikidoist is like saying that the beginning skier fell down “for” the mountain. The advanced skier has learned to use these forces; a small shift in weight or position determines whether the skier crashes into a tree or swooshes effortlessly through a turn and down the slope. An accomplished skier flying across the snow is as improbable to the frustrated beginner as an accomplished aikidoist flying across the mat – but neither one is faking. courtesy Carol M. Shifflett 17 May 1997

I want to join, what do I have to do?

When you have decided that you would like to begin learning aikido, you should call to arrange a suitable time to come by the dojo, programs will be explained, and questions answered. Although not a requirement to start, it is recommended that you purchase a white gi, karate or judo.

How physically demanding are the classes?

Because of the nature of aikido students from their teens to seventies can practice together. While watching a class you will see a full spectrum of older to newer students. Students practicing slowly, to very energetic workouts by cooperative pairs, going full-out. Aikido is an excellent activity to give you a full body workout. There is room in the dojo for the whole spectrum and you are invited to find your place, your pace and your own reasons for practicing aikido.

Contact Aikido of El Paso

The way of harmony with the force of nature.

Aikido of El Paso • 808 Montana Ave, El Paso, TX 79902, United States • 915-525-4879

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