Miina McCown/The Broadside
Self-improving and staying sane during a worldwide pandemic may not be easy. But what if there was a martial art that could help you do these things while also improving your abilities in being mindful, calm and caring for others?
Shin Shin Touitsu Aikido, or shortened as Ki Aikido is a Japanese martial art derived from aikido, and started recently in the early 1970s by Koichi Tohei Sensei, who founded the Ki Society. While the Ki Society has spread throughout the world, there is an Oregon Ki Society.
Contrastingly from other martial arts, Ki-Aikido is a form of self-defense through nonviolent principles, exercises and arts as well as the coordination of mind and body that can be practiced by any age. The martial art involves breathing exercises, throwing arts and principles with a focus on non-aggression, self-awareness and learning and improvement with practices that can be applied to situations and experiences in everyday life.
In addition to the Bend location, the Oregon Ki Society Bend dojo offers classes at Central Oregon Community College. Students can find it in the course catalog under the name Ki Aikido (HHPA 138). The Broadside spoke with Dr. Brad Welker, chief instructor at the Bend dojo and an instructor of Ki Aikido at COCC from 2000-2019.
Welker Sensei remarked that especially during the pandemic and other times of adversity, the principles of Ki Aikido teach us self-control, calming of the mind and being natural.
“We can’t control the world around us or the actions of others, but we have a choice in regard to our reactions. Even in times of trouble, I can apply the principles of Ki Aikido, calm my mind and extend to the world around me in a positive way. We’re all applying principles to our lives every day, some negative and destructive while others are helpful and productive. It’s the application of positive principles that determines the degree of positive outcomes for ourselves and the world around us,” he stated.
Welker had been attending Oregon State University in the early 1990s and was intrigued by the thought of calming his mind, deciding to take a class through the college. He found it fun but also very challenging, and one of the reasons he was so captivated by the martial art was because there were expectations for the application of their principles to not just mentally understand them but to apply them to daily life as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that change can be a very difficult thing for all of us. It can challenge our minds in terms of staying positive and not losing sight of what really matters. Many of us have been in distress for a number of reasons.
“Ki Aikido teaches us how to act and react from a calm mind,” states Welker.
A calm mind allows one to reflect on everything clearly, which means that although you may not agree with someone else’s view, you can still listen and react without conflict. Even during times of division or struggle, one does not need to be divided and can still practice cooperation and inclusion.
For new students, the benefits of Ki Aikido begin with an understanding of the state of their mind and learning to apply Ki principles to their training and daily life. The training puts students into situations that reveal what is in the subconscious mind, which are habits and ways of thinking, positive or negative. Applying Ki principles is when someone is able to train by consciously changing what is in their subconscious mind, and ultimately how they react to external factors such as stress and others around them.
“The training is different for each person, as each person comes in with different experiences and habits. The training is not a one-size-fits-all, but rather is an active application of principles based on the individual. As a person trains, they will see their mind becoming more positive and caring about themselves and those around them,” says Welker.