Aileen Bailey USA
Aikido of Champlain Valley Official Facebook Website
I had no idea Aikido was even a martial art till The Walking Dead episode where Morgan finds his humanity again. Even then, it sounded so counter-intuitive that I thought the copy of The Art of Peace that was tossed into Morgan's lap might have been a prop made just for the show. A martial art about being peaceful and protective of even your enemies? That hardly makes sense, does it? That episode of The Walking Dead aired when I was in a bad spot in life. The stress from my job, from family members who seemed to constantly rail against each other, from my own mind dwelling on 'failure' was keeping me balanced on the edge of a hysterical break-down. I was floating through life feeling like I was about to collapse at any second. In a lot of ways, I could relate to the character that was running around the deadened fantasy world destroying everything he touched.
A quick google search will show you some fancy Youtube videos and mention Steven Seagal as a famous person who practices the art. I did a lot of research on different martial arts that night, and I kept being drawn right back to Aikido. The idea of finding peace in chaos was a real draw for me. The idea of being the protective spirit spoke to me. I'd like to get into law enforcement soon, and being able to maim and break another person with my bare hands doesn't appeal to me, and it won't help me when I do get my dream job.
Aikido of Champlain Valley was the first Dojo I visited on my list, and it was the last. The people I train with are friendly, inclusive, and patient with a newbie like myself. If I express a concern, it is addressed. The sensei is intense, but encouraging. When he's teaching a class, and I watch him perform a technique that is so complex, fluid, and graceful that it's shocking... I don't get intimidated. I find myself realizing that I can get there someday, and it's because of the inclusive nature of the Dojo. I have never found myself saying 'I can't do that,' because the other students won't allow me the chance!
The Dojo itself is a beautiful space. It's always clean, and it's always calming to walk into. There are small things like having bagels on Sunday after class and seeing the schedule of events like potlucks that make it feel more like a group of friends I never knew I had. This isn't a place you just show up to for an hour and leave. The people suck you in, and it's great.
Now, I know a lot of this review is very personal to me. I figured out Aikido was a thing via a T.V. show, but I had no idea what an effect it would have on me. I was an angry, frustrated person when I first walked into the Dojo on a cold November day last year. I was afraid of the future and I was afraid of conflict. Well, I'm not anymore. I don't know at what point Aikido began to permeate through my life, but it has. I'm not afraid of conflict, both physical and verbal. I'm not angry all the time anymore. That never would have happened without the community of ACV.
And as an aside: I lost 25lbs because of Aikido practice. Just saying.
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