Tag Archives: Dojo

Of villages, gyms and dojos

Of villages, boxing gyms and dojos

My daughter successfully tested for her next level in Aikido yesterday wowing us all with her prowess, strength, sweet laughter and compassion.

Compassion is perhaps a strange way of describing acts of tossing her “Ukais” from one side of the dojo to the other — but was just that as she worried her way through this person’s hurt back and that person’s smaller stature all while performing the complicated forms she has come to master with such grace.

It got me to thinking that my daughter’s art — as it has become since she donned her first Gi at the age of 5 turning 6 — is so many parts herself, but also many parts her Aikido teachers who have patiently, and sometimes not so patiently, taught her the large and small points of placing her body in this or that posture.

The more important lessons though have had to do with taking responsibility for herself and for how she comports herself through the rituals of the culture of Aikido.  Along the way she is finding moments of body-mind union — where she loses her self-consciousness to act in a kind of unison. This last is the hardest, and yet as I watched her yesterday, I knew that she was well on her way.

It got me to thinking that her dojo has become her village filled with all the nuances of a community each playing a part in helping her to grow into a young woman.  It also got me to thinking that boxing gyms seem to have that same effect on young people. They learn an art — essentially an art of violence, and yet what they learn is not violent at all. What one sees is an inculcation of gentleness, sure not all the time, but the intimacy of learning those arts does give rise to the village life for those kids — seen scampering around, their heads jostled as they imbibe the skills of honing the body and the mind into a kind of harmony.

And its not just kids.  Adults can find that subtle part of village life too.  A community within a community where you work your butt off  — and afterwards just hang around for a while to chit-chat with your friends and cheer on others as they put in the work too.

A mom’s delight

A mom’s delight.

Okay, I admit it, I am officially kvelling!  My daughter has been invited to test for her brown belt in Aikido today!

We are all enormously proud of her achievement — not the least of which is because she has done so much of this on her own through a combination of hard work and true passion.

As with any martial discipline, it a lot takes courage to stand out on a mat and get pounded. In her case, she flies through the air, does break falls any WWF wrestler could be proud of, and can toss a grown person twice her size with ease.  She’s also learned a thing or two about self-discipline, mental focus, and what happens when her “monkey mind” gets in the way.

What’s most impressive is she understands that in testing for her belt today, she’s not only taking a moment to acknowledge her efforts, but committing herself to further studies and the responsibilities that come with her new rank.

To all the parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or fabulous honorary aunties and uncs, do consider guiding the child in your care to studying a physical discipline such as boxing, aikido, or judo or any of the other recognized martial arts.  Having watched my daughter and her friends over the past years has given me an appreciation for how much these kids gain from this sort of practice.   It’s something I know I’ve written about before, but having observed the confidence and maturity these kids exhibit I can attest to the fact that these sorts of disciplines add an extra dimension to their growth and development that should serve them over the course of their lives.

So, congratulations to our fabulous girl and all her friends who are testing today — all of you deserve rounds of applause and a minimum of two scoops of your favorite ice cream a piece!


Women’s boxing seminar

Women’s boxing seminar.

USANA Pink Gloves Boxing Seminar 2010

My daughter turned 11 yesterday.  Her very excellent day included the evening session of a three-day Aikido seminar sponsored by a local Brooklyn Dojo.

It got me to thinking about how supportive these types of events are.  In the Aikido world, master teachers train participants in new techniques, general practice concepts and offer opportunities for augmenting learning, including special sessions for kids.

A women’s boxing seminar might work equally as well, perhaps beginning with a half-day event.  I know that there are fantasy camps around, but in the seminar concept, a gym facility could be borrowed on a Sunday and trainers as well as experienced boxers could lead participants in a variety of drills, boxing techniques, boxing exercises and sparring.

An hour or two could also be devoted to kids and/or invite girls of 11 or 12 on up to participate in the day’s  activities.

The seminar would have to be self-funded in order to pay for facilities and trainers, but with enough interest and a reasonable fee it might well work out.  It’s also an especially nice way for women boxers both novice and experienced to feel as if they are part of a larger community.

I know that in boxing in particular, training is often one-on-one and the relationship between the boxer and her trainer is sacrosanct. The seminar or clinic concept can augment that relationship by teaching new ways of thinking about the sport and providing a supportive atmosphere for trying out new techniques, not to mention  the chance to meet up with old friends and a place to make new ones.

Please contact me if there is any interest out there in planning and/or sponsoring such an event.  With the Olympics looming on the horizon in 2012, now might be a great time to start thinking about these kinds of sports clinics if nothing else than to build momentum and a fan base.


***P. S.  How’s this for timing!  It seems that Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, NY will be sponsoring an All Female Boxing Clinic and Show on April 21, 22 and 23, 2011!