aikigraphic010814.jpg (62764 bytes)Martial Arts I & II - Aikido

JSR Fall 2015 Syllabus Supplement, August 24, 2015, through December 19, 2015

 PED 137-82PR (60172) Martial Arts I TuTh 5:30PM - 6:20PM Rm 105, PRC-Georgiadis Hall Aug 24, 2015-Dec 19, 2015 PED 138-82PR (60410) Martial Art II TuTh 5:30PM - 6:20PM Rm 105, PRC-Georgiadis Hall Aug 24, 2015-Dec 19, 2015

Instructor: Tim Sheldon, Fifth-Degree Black Belt, Aikido of San Francisco, Iwama Dojo, Japan, Bryan Park Aikido, Richmond, Va. BA, MFA, University of Virginia.

Text: Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere: An Illustrated Introduction Paperback, by Adele Westbrook and Oscar Ratti.

Supplies: A white practice uniform will be required. It's a white judo or karate gi and can be purchased from any martial arts supply outlet o from the instructor for $40.00 (exact amount in cash, please).

Training requirement: Students are not allowed to practice if they do not arrive on time or are not wearing the required training uniform.

Course Objectives:

* To gain an understanding of the fundamental principles of Aikido

* To include discussion of how Aikido can be used in our daily communication to resolve conflicts in a non-combative way.

* To study the specific Aikido techniques leading to promotion to Sixth Kyu, the first level of rank.

* To study the general principles of self-defense.


Based on attendance and class participation.

School Guidelines on Attendance:

In accordance with the general guidelines of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, students are expected to attend all classes and to notify the instructor when absences are necessary. Students are expected to arrive at class on time. When a student is, or expects to be, absent from a class, he or she should contact the instructor immediately.

Call Tim Sheldon at 804-477-4533 or email him at If you want to be on the email list for Aikido updates, just send me an email request and I'll add you to the list. I've sent you an email to your address, which you might want to check. It includes a link to the syllabus.

Two phrases you'll hear a lot:

"Onigai shimasu" - pronounced O-ni-gai-shi-MAS ... Means "If you please." Is said when bowing in at the beginning of practice and bowing to a another student during practice.

"Domo arigato gozai mashita" -  pronounced Do-mo a-ri-GA-to Go-zai ma-shi-ta. Means "Thank you very much." Is said when bowing out at the end of practice.

What Is Aikido?

Aikido is a martial art which emphasizes a way of harmonizing with the energy of the Universe. It was founded by the Japanese martial arts master, Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) and is a gift from the Founder to us. An Aikidoist moves in harmony with the movement of an opponent rather than in conflict with it. Ideally, the structure of conflict is changed to a structure of harmony, and the conflict can be resolved without anyone getting hurt.

There are two components to the structure of an attack: you and the attacker. If you realign your position in relation to the attacker, the structure of the attack will collapse and the attacker will fall. You cause the attack to change structure by co-operating with the attacker, but that does not mean acquiescing or giving up. You are moving in unison with the movement of the attacker and control the center. Co-operation in this sense means to move in unison with the attacker and command the center.

"Ai" means harmony. "Ki" means energy of the universe. "Do" means way or path.

Harmonizing with the Energy of the Universe can be a complicated subject, or it can be as basic as keeping your mental and physical balance. The key is to be aware of the fundamentals and practice constantly. You can follow the path of Aikido to attain this harmony or some other discipline such as Karate, Tai Chi, Yoga or Gardening. There are many paths, and martial arts is one of them. Among the martial arts, Aikido is an excellent path. Choose the way that suits your personality and interests.

Aikido is a very good system of self defense for smaller persons, because it relies more on foot work and technique than on physical strength. "Small" is a relative term, and in a given situation each of us will experience being small. Aikido is useful in daily life, as well, because the same principles can be used in verbal and nonverbal communication. In Aikido, you convert a pattern of conflict into a pattern of harmony.

The Proper Attitude

We follow certain ground rules during practice in order to benefit from and enjoy training, create an atmosphere of mutual respect, and maintain safety.

  • The fundamental basis of Aikido practice is respect for yourself and others. Practice with your partner in a friendly, cooperative manner. Aikido practice is not competitive; it is cooperative. When grounded properly in the basic fundamentals and correct spirit of intent, Aikido practice should have a light feeling to it.
  • It is prohibited to use strength to stop the completion of a technique during practice. Put good energy into your attack, but move with the application of technique by your partner. This is the best way to learn Aikido. Use of strength to completely stop a technique can lead to injury and slows down the learning process.
  • Do not bring children to class. It disrupts the concentration of both teacher and students and creates a risk of injury.
  • Do not chew gum or have anything in your mouth. It could lead to serious injury.
  • Do not wear jewelry of any kind.
  • The content of this 15-session class represents only a fraction of what you can eventually learn. This course will provide you with a good general understanding of Aikido, but the development of a higher skill level will depend on your own motivation and continued practice.
  • Be careful about trying to learn too many techniques too soon. It's better to know a few simple techniques well rather than to half-way know a larger number of techniques.
  • Bow to each partner before and after you train. It shows respect and helps maintain mental focus.
  • Make sure your apparel is clean and keep your toenails and fingernails trimmed.
  • Do not leave the mat during class. It is considered bad etiquette to leave the mat except for injuries. (If you have to go to the restroom, that's certainly okay).
  • Treat your partner with the utmost respect. Your partner is entrusting his or her personal safety to you, and we must handle that trust with the greatest care.
  • Do not demonstrate or practice another martial art while in the Aikido class. Lots of people have practiced a variety of martial arts, and it's considered disrespectful to show them when practicing another martial art.

Recommended Reading

  • Aikido in Everyday Life: Giving In To Get Your Way, Terry Dobson and Victor Miller, North Atlantic Books, P.O. Box 12327, Berkeley, Calif., 94701.
  • Aikido, The Way of Harmony, John Stevens under the direction of Shirata Rinjiro, Shambhala Publications Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, Mass., 02115.
  • Budo, Teachings of the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, Kodansha America Inc., 114 Fifth Ave., New York, NY, 10011.
  • Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere, An Illustrated Introduction, A. Westbrook and O. Ratti, Illustrations by O. Ratti. Charles E. Tuttle Company, Suido 1-chome, 2-6, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. U.S. offices in Rutland, Vermont.
  • Book of Ki: Coordinating Mind and Body in Daily Life, Koichi Tohei, Japan Publications Inc., distributed by Japan Publications Trading Company, P.O. Box 5030, Tokyo International, Tokyo 101-31, Japan.
  • The Essence of Aikido, Spiritual teachings of Morihei Ueshiba, compiled by John Stevens, Kodansha International, Tokyo, distributed by Kodansha America Inc., 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011.
  • The Secrets of Aikido, John Stevens, Shambhala Publications Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, Mass., 02115.

About the Instructor:

Tim Sheldon has bachelor's and master's degrees in English from the University of Virginia. His martial arts career dates back to 1970 when he began studying Goju Ryu Karate while in a graduate writing program at San Francisco State University. He was promoted to black belt in 1974 and began studying Aikido in San Francisco in 1977. He was promoted to black belt in 1984. He now holds the rank of godan, or fifth-degree black belt, and holds a senior instructor’s certificate from the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. He also has studied at the Iwama dojo in Japan. He has been instructing Aikido at J.S. Reynolds for the past 14 years and has taught Aikido at Randolph-Macon College for nine years. He maintains an Aikido web site at

Summary of Aiki Communications Theory

Aikido is an excellent means of self-defense, but it is equally effective in daily communications. You may use Aikido in a physical confrontation, but the chances of that happening are minimal. You can, however, use the principles of Aikido in daily communications on a constant basis. The Founder, Morihei Ueshiba, had this in mind when he developed Aikido.

The fundamental energy patterns of Aikido are represented by the triangle, circle and square. When you are using one of these energy patterns, it is important to operate from your center; otherwise, you will be off balance, both physically and mentally.

The triangle represents moving forward, entering into the space of an attacker. A person who becomes a centered triangle is direct and candid, takes the initiative and seizes the moment. An uncentered triangle, however, can be obnoxious, jarring, encroaching, bullying and arrogant. Use the triangle mode to assert yourself effectively, when you are in a situation where you have to take the initiative and express your concerns.

The circle represents turning and blending with an attacker. The centered circle is able to move with a force without being overwhelmed by it, to turn and see the other person's point of view. The centered circle is flexible, can accept force, sees all sides, is fair, surprising, humane, reasonable and accepting. The uncentered circle, however, is flighty, duplicitous, can be rolled, is impressionable, a pushover, tricky and cowardly. The person who keeps his or her center while being circular can move more easily with any force, can see anything from all sides. You can perceive anything coming at you from any of 360 directions and still blend. You can be a centered circle, for instance, when diffusing criticism.

The square represents stability. It plays from strength, is solid, grounded, stable, dependable and takes a stand. The uncentered square, on the other hand, is stodgy, stuck, boring, unable to move and numbskulled. The centered square is calm, and it is your stability as a centered square that allows the other person to be calm and at ease. It fact, a centered square may enable an entire group to remain relaxed and at ease. A centered square listens and does not commit unnecessarily.

Rules of Self-Defense

  1. Be aware of what's going on around you.
  2. If a risk exists in your general area and it’s perceivable, then you should perceive it.
  3. Understand the levels of risk of anything you're preparing to do.
  4. Understand the safety rules for any activity that contains risk.
  5. Know who you are, where you're going, what you're doing and why.
  6. Look ahead. Anticipate conflicts in advance and plan ways to work them out peacefully.
  7. Use your verbal communications skills to resolve a conflict.
  8. Send a nonverbal message, with good balance, posture and focus, that you're not a person who can be intimidated physically.
  9. Avoid looking at things negatively or melodramatically. Allow yourself to see the humor that often exists in situations.
  10. Maintain the principle of correct distance between yourself and others.
  11. Treat others with reasonable respect.
  12. Be benevolent, but don't be "nice". In other words, treat others with respect, but do not put yourself at unnecessary risk or allow yourself to be taken advantage of when dealing with others.
  13. Never play the role of victim in any way.
  14. Use the energy principles of the centered triangle, circle and square in your daily communication.
  15. The centered triangle asserts itself, moves forward and takes the initiative when necessary.
  16. The centered circle turns and blends when necessary.
  17. The centered square is immovable, quiet and noncommittal when necessary.
  18. Diligently practice a martial art, such as Aikido, that will allow you to protect yourself from a physical attack with minimum injury to anyone involved.

Points Covered in Class:

Third Point - The attacker may be strong in a limited direction between two points, but you can take his balance by moving him to the third point, where he has no stability.

Blending - When the attacker enters, you can turn off the line of attack and see the attacker's point of view. Then you can control the center and move the attacker in the direction you choose. In daily communications, you can blend with a verbal attack by paraphrasing what is said and then moving the attacker to an appropriate solution.

Centering - Our physical center is located two inches below our navel. It is our physical center of gravity. If we initiate action from this center, it also gives us mental balance. Physical and mental balance emanating from this center results in mind-body harmony.

Use of Space - Respect is spatial, as well as mental. Our distancing from others is always significant, and if used properly it will result in harmony with others. Improper use of space can result in mental or physical conflict. Arm's length is a good distance for basic communication. If we're careful with our use of space, we'll avoid conflict.

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