I’ve always been fascinated with martial arts even from a young age. As a little girl my favorite show was Kung Fu, and watching Kwai Chang Caine use his staff effortlessly to protect himself always fascinated me. Learning to use this simple weapon, has always been at the back of my mind as something I wanted to learn, but never had the opportunity. I thought that I had to acquire black belt status before weapons training could begin; as I never achieved that goal, I felt I couldn’t learn the skills necessary to use this weapon. It wasn’t until I was volunteering with Regina Outdoor Education that everything changed. One of the parents on a field trip was an Aikido professional with his Dan Level 2. He told me about his studio and invited me to try out classes. This is where my Aikido journey began.
But first, this is how my Learning Journey began.
As I’ve studied various different martial arts, I’ve always enjoyed the physical challenges, the spiritual aspect, and comradery martial arts brings. I wanted all of those aspects back in my life and saw learning the staff as my way of finding this from an online perspective. I planned on watching YouTube video’s, reading articles, using Twitter, and to see if there were classes in Regina I could join.
This week was very frustrating as I had modem issues and my computer was offline for days. I realized I needed to learn how to download YouTube video’s, then I’d have them on my computer. If I’d had the video’s downloaded, studying offline would have been easy. I had to learn how to make a video of myself, edit it, and upload the finished product to YouTube, which had its moments of frustration and anxiety, but I figured it out in the end.
I realized this week that I was learning a martial art, and thoroughly enjoyed the physical aspect of practicing kicks, learning different grips on the staff, and working on my footwork. There’s lots to remember all at the same time, which is overwhelming but also fun. Feedly didn’t have any articles on bow staff training which was frustrating, and Twitter only had articles on martial arts. I realized that my chosen topic is a specialized field and it will be difficult to find information about it. But, the highlight of the week was learning how to download YouTube videos and I used Screencastify to do this.
This week I studied a learning Kata and was quite confused at the beginning of the week. I lack coordination, and this Kata made me focus and try really hard. I made two videos of myself to see if there was any improvement as the week progressed.
It was during this week I met an Aikido instructor on a school field trip while volunteering with Regina Outdoor Education. He invited me to join his class, and I found a focus for my staff training. I really enjoyed how using the Jo (staff) in his class made me feel; I felt as if all my previous martial arts backgrounds came together and I had found harmony.
With a shift in Jo (staff) styles, I found new videos to watch in YouTube. Finding a teacher, I liked was more difficult than anticipated as most Aikido videos demonstrate rather than teach weapons skills. But, I did manage to find a whole new Aikido community which was exciting. I found an online Aikido Journal, which had articles ranging back to 2002. Aiki Message Board: The Source for Aikido Information Is an Aikido forum that has over 22,000 practitioners who contribute to the site. After hunting through Twitter, I found several Aikido sites, but my favorite was one dedicated to women, #aikidowomen. Plus, I went to class.
This week I researched the philosophy of Aikido, as the spiritual aspect of a martial art is equally if not more important than the physical. I found many articles on the subject and was gladdened to learn that my philosophy matches with Aikido. “O’Sensei’s Lectures On the Philosophy of Aikido” “Aikido is the realization of love”. Not only is this a beautiful sentiment, it lines with my personal view of the world.
I also learned how to slow down Aikido videos so I can truly see how the Master moves his body and made a screencastify video to demonstrate this.
This has been an extraordinary adventure.
I’ve learned many new technological skills, that have helped me learn, express myself, and teach others.
Learning to use the Jo (staff) has always been a dream, somewhat whimsical, but now it’s a reality. I’m not alone on this journey as the internet is full of like minded people. There is a community I can reach out and talk with. I can discuss and share my frustrations and triumphs which is comforting. I’ve already had someone reach out to me, through Twitter and the martial arts community, and comment about my techniques which completely surprised me.
My EDTEC 300 class has also been a supportive community, where fellow students have commented on my blog posts giving me support and encouragement.
I now have also joined the Aikido community here in Regina.
Three different communities all providing compassion and support; how wonderful! I never realized that this kind of support on so many different levels was possible until now. This learning journey has taught me the comradery, compassion, and caring of people on the internet and how it can enrich lives.