Avoiding confict at heart of Aspen Aikido classes
December 31, 2013
During the holiday season, the themes of peace and goodwill are supposed to be paramount within all people. But tempers aren't always cooperative and conflicts can arise at any time.
That's where the art of Aikido can come in handy. Aikido offers people a set of tools that are applicable to most physical and non-physical conflicts that people encounter in their daily lives. The element that separates Aikido from most martial arts is its intention to do no harm to one's opponent.
Aikido classes have been offered locally for more than 10 years at the Aikido Aspen dojo through Colorado Mountain College. The next session of classes begins Jan. 5.
"Dojo" is a term that refers to a formal Japanese martial arts training area.
Brad Manosevitz, 47, currently holds the rank of third-degree black belt and is the chief instructor at Aikido Aspen. He's studied and practiced Aikido for 23 years. Manosevitz came to the Roaring Fork Valley in 2001 and began offering Aikido classes through CMC at the Aspen campus starting in 2002.
"In general, most of us aren't getting physically attacked in this valley," Manosevitz said. "But most of us come into contact with conflict, often on a daily basis. You can apply the principles of Aikido to almost any type of dispute."
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Aikido seeks to resolve conflict so that all parties walk away unharmed and mutually satisfied with the outcome.
While an Aikido technique can be an effective response to a physical attack, fighting isn't the focus of Aikido.
"Aikido is very much in line with the Aspen mantra of 'mind, body and spirit,'" Manosevitz said. "Aikido is about harmonizing with energy. That energy can take the form of a physical attack, like a strike, a punch or grab. Physically, you learn to blend with that attack. You learn to move with it, continuing the energy, even encourage it. You also learn to move your body out of the path of that energy, so when the attack reaches its destination, you've already moved to neutralize the attack. That's what happens physically."
It's what happens on a spiritual level that many have a hard time understanding. Manosevitz explained that a key ingredient to Aikido is learning gratitude and love toward the person who's attacking.
"Love is what makes Aikido what it is," he said. "It's also one of the hardest things to understand about the art when somebody is attacking you, either physically or mentally. The art of Aikido is more than just solving the conflict at hand, but to help sustain a lasting peace, rather than escalate the conflict."
Mark Goodman, 55, came to the valley 11 years ago and is the co-instructor at Aikido Aspen. Goodman calls Aikido moving meditation, a gentle, loving art where the mental mindset is key.
"Aikido isn't just physical training," Goodman said. "It's just as much mental training. If you see an attack coming, either physical or mental, you can basically disappear without hurting anybody. You learn to blend with the attack and use your attacker's energy with the least possible force. When Aikido is applied correctly, it can diffuse just about any situation."
Manosevitz said Aikido is both a fun and intelligent workout. In many ways, it's like moving meditation as the mind clears and focuses solely on the movements being taught or practiced. Aikido is also a conflict resolution for someone who doesn't want to fight.
People interested in taking Aikido classes at the Aspen dojo can sign up through CMC at coloradomtn.edu.
Classes are offered at both the Aspen and Glenwood Springs satellite campuses. The Aikido classes at the Glenwood Springs campus aren't run by Aikido Aspen, but the two dojos enjoy a healthy relationship and sometimes train together.
Manosevitz said he also offers an unofficial scholarship that isn't related to CMC.
"If someone wants to practice Aikido but doesn't have the funds, we have some money available through our dojo," he said.
Goodman added that anyone who wants to try a class without committing could do so for free.