Martial arts sensei celebrates 35th anniversary

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<p>The Japanese martial art known as Aikido is distinct from many other fighting styles. As Derm McDonald, the sensei (meaning &ldquo;teacher&rdquo;), at the Aikido Institute of Newfoundland (his dojo) explains, Aikidoka are not training to injure anyone, to win, or to bolster ego.</p>
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<p><span style="color: black;">&ldquo;We train to strengthen our bodies and&nbsp;minds; to find peaceful resolutions to conflicts; to&nbsp;heighten awareness; to deal with multiple attackers; to be calm under pressure; to be&nbsp;sincere and honest in practice, and to apply good, effective technique in a controlled fashion.&nbsp;This is the essence of training – training your Self.&rdquo;</span></p>
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<p><span style="color: black;">As a member of Aikiweb.com illustrates, no one ever has to walk away injured.</span></p>
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<p><span style="color: black;">&ldquo;[When I was young], </span><span>I happened across a friend begin and end a fight immediately with the Aikido technique &ldquo;waki gatame&rdquo;. Aside from maybe pride, no one was hurt. I asked him what exactly he had just done, and he told me about Aikido. [Soon after] I began training. The rest is history.&rdquo;</span></p>
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<p><span style="color: black;">And speaking of history, the Institute has produced more than 25 black belts since its beginning. Normally<strong><span style="font-weight: normal;">it takes five years&nbsp;or more to get to this level.</span></strong></span></p>
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<p><span style="color: black;">&ldquo;It is quite an accomplishment for students,&rdquo; says McDonald. &ldquo;I’ve had school administrators tell me getting their black belt was much more rewarding and meaningful than getting their Master’s degree.&rdquo;</span></p>
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<p><span style="color: black;">T</span>his year marks McDonald&rsquo;s 35<sup>th</sup> anniversary with the art. Believe it or not, he&rsquo;s 60 years old. You certainly wouldn&rsquo;t guess it by looking at him &ndash; he looks younger than some 40 year-olds! He testifies to the benefits Aikido has provided him with.</p>
<p>&ldquo;<span style="color: black;">I’m grateful for Aikido:&nbsp;for&nbsp;the good health I enjoy. Physically for flexibility, cardio and overall well-being;&nbsp;mentally, it was a form of therapy for me and the benefits are certainly many. It&nbsp;has been is my time, my little vacations during the week.&rdquo;</span></p>
<p><span style="color: black;">Without hesitation, he recommends it to anybody as a form of maintaining good health.&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span style="color: black;">&ldquo;With its strong philosophical foundation, physical workout, efficient martial technique and non-competitive approach to practice, it&rsquo;s simply good for you!&rdquo;</span></p>
<p><span style="color: black;">A strong premise within Aikido is how it is so intertwined with daily life. Paul Glavine, a senior student at the dojo (and instructor at another), explains to me he has taken a lot from the practice to his own life.</span></p>
<p><span style="color: black;">&ldquo;<span>Generally, I try to treat others the way I like to be treated. Like everyday life, you should always try to respect other people and never take advantage of their weaknesses for your own gain.&rdquo;</span></span></p>
<p><span style="color: black;">Fortunately, he says, he&rsquo;s never had to use his skill in a dangerous situation.</span></p>
<p><span style="color: black;">&ldquo;<span>It gives you an increased level of awareness. For that reason, my training in Aikido has helped to keep me out of dangerous situations.&rdquo;</span></span></p>
<p><span><span style="color: black;">One of the few criticisms Aikido receives from people is that it would not be effective in a &ldquo;real fight&rdquo;. </span></span></p>
<p><span style="color: black;">&ldquo;</span><span style="color: black;">These are, I suggest, people who have never practiced Aikido and who do not understand, that’s all,&rdquo; addresses McDonald. &ldquo;Given the way the world is, some people can’t see beyond competition, superiority, winning and losing. That’s what we learn, but that’s not what Aikido is all about. Simple.&rdquo;</span></p>
<p><span style="color: black;">&ldquo;I think if it had more exposure, if more people saw a practice, or just joined for a little while, they would learn and appreciate what&nbsp;Aikido is,&nbsp;and would be quite surprised at the intricacy of the movements and their power and effectiveness.&rdquo;</span></p>
<p><span>Those interested in learning more about Aikido or signing up should visit <a href="http://aikidonl.com">AikidoNL.com</a>.</span></p>
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