By Shelley Topp
The focus is not on winning at the Rangiora Aikido Dojo, it is on using the Japanese martial arts system to develop personal harmony and spiritual growth.
“Aikido is a non-competitive martial art so the emphasis is not on winning but learning how to apply the techniques effectively, and how to survive being on the receiving end,” dojo head Chris Clarke says.
“At a basic level you learn to fall (and roll) safely, which is a skill that everyone should learn, while obtaining improved physical fitness, and increased self-confidence.
“As the techniques become more familiar to students the focus shifts from inflicting technique on their partner to investigating the attacker-thrower relationship.
“As a result, the student develops the ability to stay mentally present when faced with a stressful situation. This provides the ability to respond appropriately rather than reactively under pressure,” Chris says.
This personal development can then be applied to all areas of life.
The Rangiora dojo – a place where you embark on the journey to self discovery – was established in 1998 by Australian Kevin Allen who has now returned to Australia.
Chris became the Rangiora Aikido “dojo head” in April last year.
Classes are also taught by John Wilson (first degree black belt) and Justin Galbraith (second degree black belt).
The Rangiora dojo (www.rangioradojo.nz) is part of Aikido Shinryukan, under the technical direction of Nobuo Takase Shihan who is the New Zealand representative of the World Aikido Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.
It is a small dojo making great progress.
“On October 28 we will have our twice yearly adult grading test with Takase Sensei. This will see seven members testing, including three for their first adult grade and one student testing for his nidan (second degree black belt),” Chris says.
“At present we have mostly male members but aikido is suitable for men and women so we would like a greater representation of women.
“Women often learn quicker than men as they don’t resort to strength to make a technique work, which is definitely a more intelligent way of training so more women would be great for the dojo.”
Children’s classes are particularly popular at the dojo, with 11 new juniors expected to start in term four.
“We take children from seven years of age. When juniors turn 13 they begin grading as an adult, so we have a number of young adults (13 -16 year olds) training,” Chris says.
Parents are looking for after-school activities to help with fitness and self-confidence.
Amberley’s Michael Cameron and his two children, Corbin, aged nine, and Lucy, aged seven, are members of the Rangiora dojo.
He says aikido training is teaching his children self defence in a non-confrontational way, helping them focus better and they are making new friends too.
“They are loving it.” Michael, who has a white belt-ranking, assists during the children’s training sessions which other parents attend as spectators.
Chris, who is a director of Christchurch civil and environmental consulting company Clarke Goldie and Partners, says he began aikido training in Christchurch during 1990 but later moved to Auckland to study and began training under Takase Sensei.
Before returning to Christchurch, he lived in Tokyo for two years, training at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo (World Aikido Headquarters).