Vassar College Tomiki Aikido Festival

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I felt like I learned so many things! One aspect that was particularly helpful was seeing different ways techniques could be executed, and the effects small differences could make. It was lovely to meet so many people and be taught by experienced practitioners of aikido, all of whom were so patient and enthusiastic. The event made me feel motivated to learn more and work harder at aikido; I’m excited for the future of the Vassar Aikido club as well.

– Maggie Chen –

After several years of inactivity, the new members of the Vassar Aikido Club were totally skeptical about what our Fall Aikido Festival would bring. After more than a year of practicing with only each other and our instructor, our exposure to Aikido had been limited to the focus of what we’ve had the time to study so far. For our students, the festival was a dream come true–we never imagined that we would be able to hold an event of such caliber, or see our brand of Aikido being done at such a high level. No one could have predicted that we would have more than 10 black belts fly in from all over the country, from places as far as Phoenix, Arizona, to demonstrate and help us learn.

 

The majority of our students had never even seen the first 17 kata be performed, let alone with such poise and grace. “The most impressive part of the kata demonstrations was the trust that the demonstrators held in each other. Despite being from different walks of life and places in the country, everyone was unified under the same 17 basic forms of kata and could perform them near flawlessly. To see people who are near strangers to each other be totally comfortable attacking one another with a sword or jō reinforced the calmness and composure that Aikido is representative of”, said Caroline Beech, the vice president of the Vassar Aikido Club.

Although the kata demonstrations were helpful, perhaps the most informative event for us were the randori workshops. Because of the relative newness of our members as aikidoka, many sparring techniques and rules were entirely foreign to us. Despite this, our attendees were willing to help us improve our kata and our footwork, so that we could improve in areas that we may have overlooked on our own.

“It was a surreal experience to be able to receive personal instruction from so many high level aikidoka from all over the country,”, said Maggie Chen, the treasurer of the Vassar Aikido Club. “There wasn’t a single person that wasn’t constructive and helpful with their advice. It was almost like people traveled here with teaching being their number one priority.”