Archive for the ‘Dojo News’ Category

USAF Aikido News: The Vocabulary of Conflict

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

Posted on USAF Aikido News: 10 Apr 2018 03:22 AM PDT,

There was a time, during my youth and early adulthood, that I had only a one-word response to any conflict, a loud and forceful “NO.” In a lot of situations, there’s nothing wrong with a strong “NO!” as a means of stopping aggression. It’s a word whose delivery everyone should practice. But while that word had been useful in my formative years, as a boy and young man facing larger bullies, as a response to conflict in other situations, it lacked a certain capacity for nuance.

After all, it’s not only bullies looking to humiliate you that result in conflict; you can get into arguments with bosses, significant others, family members and friends, and for many of these situations, a loud, aggressive “no” is not the appropriate response. “No” stops things. “No” puts the brakes on processes that often need to occur in conflict, processes that lead to outcomes which could be desirable for both participants.

But as a young man, I didn’t know that. I knew that “no” kept me safe and out of trouble, and that was really the only response I had in a conflict. As a result, girlfriends tended to find me “hardheaded.” Work relationships could become fraught as well. In those days, I worked in a high-conflict profession. Because I had to frequently swallow my “no” to ensure I had a job the next day, long-held frustrations would eventually boil over.

It wasn’t until I was well into my study of aikido that I realized what I was learning at the dojo was not just an assemblage of techniques for responding to physical attacks. I was learning an entire philosophy and vocabulary of conflict. I was learning other words in addition to “no” that I could use in disagreements, physical, verbal or emotional.

I was also learning — and this is equally important — a certain selflessness in conflict. And by selflessness, I don’t mean it in the giving, loving, kind sense. I mean it in the direct sense of a lack of self, a no-self that allows you to focus in an objective, unemotional way on whatever you feel is attacking you.

When I began training in aikido, I would keep my awareness focused intently on the hand, stick, or sword that was trying to strike me. As I began to master the techniques of coping with the attack, my attention shifted to a slightly broader focus, to that of the attacker’s body. By placing my attention there, I became able to incorporate information about my attacker’s line of force, speed and direction into my calculations, allowing me to begin blending with the attack in a way I could not before. Most recently, my focus has shifted again — or, more accurately, diffused. I now “see” the attack as I look beyond the attacker with an unfocused gaze, my mind captured by nothing and taking in everything. Now, at last, I have the capacity to meet my attacker on his grounds with my intent.

This corresponded to an increasing range of physical responses. At first, I had “no.” Then I added “left, right or down.” Now, I have “I’m sorry, but nobody is here right now,” along with a host of adverbs and adjectives, modifiers that amend my response, tailoring it to an exact fit for the situation.

Outside of the training space of the dojo or the unlikely occurrence of a street brawl, the importance of what I’ve learned physically is how that has morphed into a more comprehensive emotional response as well. Spousal disputes — and when two people who are warriors at heart marry, you’re going to have them — become less emotionally destructive when both of us engage in creative conflict. As do conflicts with business associates, employees and others.

Worst-case scenario

In a worst-case scenario, when a strike reaches its intended target, I can choose to simply not be there. Sometimes being non-reactive to a verbal or emotional attack is the best response, allowing the attacker to expend their energy fruitlessly, and then, the smoke having lifted from the battlefield, negotiations can begin.

Sometimes, however, non-engagement only serves to increase the attacker’s ferocity, in which case other tactics are in order. A counter-attack, however, is not one of them. That’s part of the beauty of aikido, as it has no counter-strikes, no offensive moves. Yes, a punch or a kick may be administered as part of a defensive action, but that is only as a protective measure; and again, techniques may be done with or without such amenities, allowing you to control the level of the conflagration, even in the middle of a firefight.

So you redirect the aggression. Turn it toward the door, or the window, or redirect it back at them, allowing the attacker to experience the noxiousness of their own energy. Help them to leave (literal defenestration is not required) by the exit closest to the aim of their attack, giving them a chance to think things over before resuming hostilities. Often, this will turn down the heat enough that the conflict can then be resolved.

Martial arts alchemy

How do you learn these emotional techniques from training physical techniques in the dojo? Even having experienced the process, I can describe it no better than being some form of alchemy, where the physical activity rewires the circuits of your brain.

Certainly part of it is just being swung at. If you figure that on a typical night in the dojo I’m dealing with anywhere from 50 to 100 shots to the head, at some point being swung at loses its emotional gravity, and it’s just another fist in the air.

Another part is a sense of competence. If you feel competent in an activity, your fear of participating will decrease and your need to “prove yourself” will evaporate. This is important, as conflict makes up a small part of most people’s lives but can consume vast amounts of emotional resources.

The last part comes not simply from training in conflict, but specifically in the martial art of aikido. Aikido opens your mind to a third path of conflict; one where there is no winner, and no loser either. When you throw someone on the mat, you aren’t beating him; you aren’t somehow superior to her; you are simply taking their balance, which they offered to you in the attack, and moving it a few inches north, south, left or right. And you will have your turn to be thrown as well, a time in which you realize that to roll in response to your partner’s throw is protecting your own integrity, ensuring your safety for yourself. Self-care in the midst of an attack on someone? Well, that’s a novel thought. And there it goes, from your muscles, joints and sinews to the synapses of your brain.

These days, in this world, it is increasingly hard to avoid conflict. Hard not to provoke others or be provoked by them, while we’re all involved in a game of high stakes poker that determines the fate of ourselves and the larger world. We cannot end conflict, nor can we avoid it; in truth, conflict is a necessary tool for advancement, but only works if wielded wisely.


For more essays on aikido, follow Dr. Avery Jenkins at

by Avery Jenkins

Litchfield Hills Aikikai

Ch,ch,ch, CHANGES!

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

After about 6 years of great hosting by EC Athletics, we have changed locations. We wish Lee Ward great success in his future endeavors. Thanks for all you have done for us, Lee.

So this weekend, we had our last classes at the “old” dojo, then moved our practice floor and the rest of the dojo to our new location at Texas Champion Gymnastics.

Our last adult Class at EC Athletics.

Our last adult Class at EC Athletics.









Last kids class at EC Athletics.

Last kids class at EC Athletics.







2016-04-30 17.09.13

Last kids class at EC Athletics.







Rebuilding our practice floor.

Rebuilding our practice floor.













New 5th Kyu Students

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

While testing is not the main focus of our dojo, or Aikido, it is always nice when people pass their rank tests. It’s a nice time from students to see where they are on their Aikido journey, and usually the preparation for the exam improves their practice a lot.

In March 2013 we had three students take and pass their 5th kyu test, which is great! So congratulations to Robert, Minh, and Abu.

Also, in April, Damon passed his 4th kyu test. We are very proud of him!

Everyone just keep practicing. It’s all about the practice.

New Dojo Management Software

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

We are now using Zen Planner to track class attendance, process your payments, maintain membership records, etc.

This system is intended to make it easy for you, our members, to keep your membership information up to date.

The system DOES use the secure HTTPS protocol. It appears here on our website via “iFrame” — which causes the Zen Planner site to appear in a virtual window here on our site. You can also log in directly at .

You also have the ability to pay your monthly dues using this system.

You can “reserve” your spot in class 48 hours ahead of time. Reserving your spot insures that your attendance is counted, as Sensei will later log in and record everyone who was in class.

It is your responsibility to check your account, again by logging in here on this website, to make sure your attendance is correct. I suggest you check it on a weekly basis. If it is not correct you may contact Shiba Sensei via email to correct your record. But the idea is to put this mostly in the hands of our members.

Once you have logged in, your profile will appear appear here on our website. The system is very, very simple to use. Click the various tabs and explore. It’s really very cool. It will tell you have many classes you’ve had since your last test, etc. We are working to get all of this information from the last year into the system. Really a great tool for tracking your progress and planning for the future.

Bob Loftin
Web Monkey.

New Membership Special

Monday, February 6th, 2012

We are currently running a new adult member special.

$150 for first three-months, including your gi (practice uniform — normally $50).

Included in this is a free Plano Aikido Center tshirt, while supplies last.

Come practice with us!

Our contact information is here.

February 2012 Kyu Testing

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

The next adult and kids Kyu test will be on Saturday Feb 25.

For those that are planning to test, it gives you almost two months to prepare for it. Check to see if you have the practice hours needed for testing, and if you have questions please consult Shiba Sensei.

In order to test, you need to get a brown belt or black belt to sponsor you and help you review. You can ask Sensei or any senior Aikidoist to help you in reviewing the techniques required for your level, but you need to do it well before testing time.

The list of techniques required for each level is available in our Member Handbook. If you don’t have one, speak to Shiba Sensei

2011 Holiday Season Party

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

On Dec. 10, 2011, we had our holiday season party, and took the opportunity to get some group photos. It is hard to get every together during the holidays, and the pics are missing over half our adult members, but most of the kids are there. I guess we need to take group shots at different times during the year to get the full dojo represented.

Anyway, it was a fun party. Everyone brought their families and lots of food. Yum!

Click for full-sized images.

Our kids class, their instructors, Â and their parents at our 2011 Holiday Season Party.


Aikidoists at our 2011 Holiday Season Party

A long hot summer…

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Well fellow aikidoists, it’s been a long, hot summer, and it looks like we have a few more weeks to go. Luckily the dojo has AC and of course some big fans, so we’ve had some great practices.

Over the last few month’s Plano Aikido Center has gained quite a few new students, which is great. The Saturday kids class is going well, with all the students progressing nicely.

Let’s keep up the great momentum. If you haven’t been to practice for a while c’mon back and get thrown around!

Finally, congratulations of David Rush, who passed his 2nd kyu  test today, and Pawel Kijowski, who passed his 3rd kyu test. We have a lot of brown belts now, with more on the way.

As always, thanks to Shiba Sensei, Shawn, and Mark, for the excellent and patient instruction.

Holiday Schedule

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

The holiday season is again upon us. It has been a pleasure to practice with you all. Many of you will have new resolutions for 2011 and hope Aikido will continue to be one of them.

Note that Plano Aikido class schedule will adapt to the season spirit.

There will be no class on Fri/Sat Dec 24-25 as well as Fri/Sat Dec 31/Jan 1.

If I don’t see you before I wish you all a Happy Holidays and if you are going out of town just travel safe.



Kagami Biraki — 2011

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

The annual Kagami Biraki spring seminar for 2011 will take place Jan. 14-16 at Aikido of Dallas.

Plano Aikido Center will therefore not have adult classes on Friday or Saturday, January 14 or 15 so that we may attend the seminar. Shiba Sensei strongly encourage you to attend — it is a fun and energizing experience, and will improve your aikido.

This is an excellent time to practice with members of many other dojos, experience the teaching of different Senseis, and be taught directly by Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei. An entire weekend to immerse yourself in Aikido. Your understanding will increase and technique will improve.

Class Schedule.  (all at Aikido of Dallas dojo)

Friday PM:          6:30 – 8:00
Saturday  AM:  10:00 – 11:00      11:15 – 12:15
Saturday  PM:    2:00 – 3:15       3:30 – 4:40
Sunday AM:      10:00 – 11:00    11:15 – 12:15
Saturday evening:  7:30 pot luck dinner at the dojo.

Yamada Sensei will be staying at the Holiday Inn Select (972) 243-3363.  Ask for Aikido group rate — $65 and 10% discount on breakfast buffet.