Lincoln is comparatively a safe community, yet a number of reasons still exist that a woman — trail user, college student, late-night grocery shopper or movie-goer, etc. — should have basic self-defense knowledge.
Actual statements made by members of the Lincoln community:
“I unknowingly encountered a man on one of our more beautiful, but wooded trails. This guy popped onto the trail from “nowhere” and his odd behavior caused a pit-in-my-stomach reaction. A week later, I learned that very man, who was a repeat sex offender, was arrested for an attack on the trail. It still makes my arm hairs stand up.”
”I told police the man grabbed my neck and tore my shirt. It was around 1:30 in the afternoon. I was just walking on the path. I was so scared. The man ran away after I kneed him in the groin and stabbed at him with a stick.”
“Police are looking for a man they say broke into a home, then attacked the woman who lives there after she discovered him standing over her.”
“I intend to participate in this class and just recently started thinking about self-defense in a new way. From now on, I’ll regard it as CPR. I hope I never, ever need the skill, but if I do, I’ll have the background to put the lessons to good use.”
I recently attended an Aikido seminar, where the Shihan (Master Instructor) who was teaching relayed a maxim that he was taught, which goes “Cry in the Dojo, Laugh in the Real World”. That statement struck me as it applies to Martial Arts training. I often tell the students at Aikido of Nebraska that if they really care about their training partner, they must try to “kill” them. Really. No Aikido student wants to train only to find out that his/her techniques don’t really work because they never got real attacks when they were in the dojo. Thus, in the dojo, the student must focus on delivering accurate and true attacks to his/her partner, so that they may respond appropriately. The student is not truly doing technique if they never got attacked “for real”.
In the modern world, with ever-increasing demands placed on us from work, kids, commuting, spouse, etc. it is a true gift to come into the dojo and do nothing but work on yourself. It is a true maxim that what you put into your training is what you will get out. The real trick is to make training more and more difficult for yourself. You need to get more precise with your footwork, connect better with your partner, shift your balance more precisely, control your emotions better, and have your partner deliver increasingly difficult attacks. In this fashion, as you are able to handle the increasingly difficult training, an attack on the street will seem easy by comparison. And guess what? Your real-life stresses will seem easy by comparison as well.
Now, this strategy requires some common-sense as well. You need to increase your difficulty along with your ability to do the technique. A beginning student cannot expect to take a real attack from day-one, and expecting too much of your performance will only get you frazzled and burned-out. However, over time, “Cry in the Dojo, Laugh in the Real World” is an excellent strategy to become more successful in and outside of the dojo.
The students at Aikido of Nebraska celebrated New Years Eve with excellent training sessions in the Martial Arts. What better way to start the New Year? The dojo is now 4 months old and doing very well. Membership is continuing to increase, and students (and Instructor) look forward to the simple daily act of training.
Its New Years Resolution-time! C’mon, You have been thinking about finding some stress relief, getting in better shape, and starting something thast could change you life. So, if you have been on the fence about training at Aikido of Nebraska, but haven’t done it yet, do so now. There are no high-pressure tactics; we want happy students. Come down and see a class, and talk with the other students to see what the “buzz” is about. When people see the benefits firsthand, they don’t have to be “sold”, they join.
As the weather gets colder and more harsh, we often start the cold and flu season. Some of us always seem to catch the virus that is “going around”. However, we don’t often realize that from a balance perspective, that we cause ourselves to be sick. As a physician, I often see a “wave” of illness due to viruses that go through the community. As a Martial Arts Instructor, however, I see a different perspective on illness. Illness is really a wake-up call, a warning that your life is out of balance.
Human beings must constantly balance everything in their lives. They must neither eat too little or too much, they must neither sleep too little or too much. They require stimulation to keep from being bored, but too much will leave them stressed and neurotic. They must balance work, family, kids, and special events. They must balance their “mental” life with their physical one. They must get enough excercise. You can start to see that life is really a complex juggling act of multiple factors in order to have a healthy mind-body-soul. Any deviation from that balance will cause disharmony, and invite illness to invade, be it viruses, cancer, or arthritis.
I often hear from a student or a friend that they “caught a virus” at the holiday party they attended. They often fail to recall, however, that they ate too much, drank too much, smoked too much, and stayed up all night while at the party. What do you think might happen if this person eats too much, smokes too much, and gets too little sleep over years, or a lifetime?
How then can I use this information to my advantage? Simple. When you get an illness, use it as a wake-up call this something is wrong in your life; you are out of balance. Identify that disharmony, and fix it. It may be something simple (I haven’t slept enough lately), or it may be complex (I worry too much and have anxiety). You must work on fixing it, or it will only cause you more problems later on. And once it is fixed, you must work on keeping that balance. Eat too much? Eat small amounts the next day. Too sedentary? Get on the treadmill. If you can keep that balance, you will be surprised on how infrequently you get sick. It’s really about balance.
In the quest to better ourselves, Aikido students at Aikido of Nebraska work diligently on the concept of control. The student very quickly realizes that the more they can control their own actions, footwork, balance, and responses, the better they will be able to control others (i.e. the attacker). Learning this aspect of precise control is quite difficult, and require years of training to achieve. The student comes to learn that, if the technique doesn’t work, it is because he/she failed the technique, not the other way around. In this regard, the student takes responsibility for themselves, and recognizes they must acquire new levels of control in order to perform the technique correctly. Like most of the lessons in the Martial Arts, this lesson applies to life as well as training.
In our current society, we often get caught up in trying to get out of taking responsibility. Oddly enough, it is this failure to take responsibility that leaves many of us feeling depressed and out of control. The more we avoid responsibility, the more we feel like “life is out to get us”, or “I can’t ever seem to catch a break”. Taking on that responsibility allows us to remain in control, because it now becomes our choice. Yes, more responsibility involves more work, but doesn’t feel better when you beat yourself up instead of letting someone else do it? Either way you will get beaten up, but at least one is your choice, and therefore under a certain amount of your control.
Therefore, make a goal of taking responsibility for every aspect of your personal life. Therefore, when something goes wrong, it is not the fault of your accountant, financial advisor, doctor, or mother, it is yours, because you are the final authority over your own life. But you know what? Ultimately, it feels better to take back that control. And, like training, the better you can control those aspects of your own life, you will find that life seems to be more fair, and you will have more influence (and control) on the world around you.
When a Japanese sword begins its journey to becoming a sword, it starts out as a lump of steel. The steel is hammered out flat, folded and hammered out again countless times. The steel is then hammered out, flattened, and cut into the basic shape, and clay is added to all but the edge of the steel. The sword is fired again to temper the steel, giving the sword its’ legendary cutting edge. The sword is then polished with stone to give it its brilliance. As you cam imagine, this process takes a long time, and is performed by experts. When the sword is finished, it is transformed into an instrument that is simultaneously a deadly weapon and a work of art. There are no short-cuts to this process; if one step comes out badly, the sword is scrapped, and the process starts over again. It is possible to obtain imitations, and they may be deadly, or they may be beautiful, but they are rarely if ever both. To most people, there is no substitute for the real thing.
At Aikido of Nebraska, when I ask the students why we do Aikido, the running answer is “to polish the sword”. I believe most students would agree that self-defense is not the primary benefit when learning a Budo (Martial Way) such as Aikido. Learning self-defense techniques against real attacks must remain a priority when training, or else there is a risk of the art becoming “fake” or just a complicated and ugly dance. But the real benefit is that training allows us to forge ourselves, face and push through our physical and mental limitations, become more aware of who we truly are, and reinforce the good habits and courtesy amongst our fellow man.
Make no mistake; there are days when your training becomes very frustrating. Hitting up against your personal limitations is a sobering experience, and no one like to be reminded of what they “can’t do”. However, with the right school and the right instructor, training is fun, and when something is fun, you don’t realize how much work you are putting in it. Also, one learns to not take themselves so seriously, and so learns to deal with training, and life, better.
Are you taking time out of your day to “Polish the Sword”? If not, come see us at Aikido of Nebraska, we’ll make sure that you are having so much fun during your training, that you don’t even realize that you are becoming a better person.
In the Martial Arts Training Hall, there is often a period of silence before starting class. If there isn’t, and the students are still talking, the instructor may say “Mokuso!” which in Japanese means “To Silence”, or “Contemplate!” However, a better way to think of this, as in Dave Lowrey’s book In the Dojo, where he defines “Mokuso” as a transitional period. Many think of the Dojo (training hall) as a place of refuge from the stresses of the modern world. In reality, the Dojo is a place where one learns to better confront and deal with the stresses of the modern world.
In the dojo, the student learns more about the world by learning more about his/her self, and so, the Dojo becomes a world-in-miniature, to the world outside. Mokuso allows the student to put the cares, stresses, aggravations of the outside world aside for a moment, in order to prepare himself to train. When his training is finished for the evening, he or she again returns to Mokuso so that he/she can transition back to life outside the dojo.
So what is the trick to “Mokuso”? You must quiet yourself, and let the constant stream of concerns, fears, thoughts, and wishes not get your attention. Easier said than done, right? It is not really meditataion, however. You are only allowing yourself a moment to prepare for the next phase. This transitional period can be used to reflect on how to use the coming moments most effectively. Have you always made the most of whatever you have spent your time on? Try Mokuso, so you can quiet yourself and focus on how to get the most out of your time.
The Dojo at Aikido of Nebraska is progressing along nicely. New students are starting all the time, and the mat is getting that “lived in” look finally! We have expanded our website even further, with a student section, and an online store. Students can now look up their profiles online, sign up for classes and lessons, take care of membership dues all online! All of this is designed to do one thing; make it easy to get in and train, without any other distractions!
We are continuing to provide Self Defense for Women Workshops on Monday nights at LifePointe Wellness Center, and the students there are learning the awareness and street tactics of self defense in the real world.
So, If you have been on the edge, thinking about coming in to Aikido of Nebraska, but haven’t done it yet, do so now. There are no high-pressure tactics; we want happy students. Come down and see a class, and talk with the other students to see what the “new buzz” is about.
I consider myself lucky, because I live in one of the last worlds where manners are allowed to be taught – the Martial Arts school. Name me another place where manners and courtesy are allowed to be taught.
School? No way! “You are not going to impose your values on my kid!”
Work? Puleeze! Most corporate handbooks read like Kindergarten rules (no hair pulling, keep your hands to yourself, try to keep your pants on, etc)
Church? Maybe. But most of the time even in church, you learn WHAT to do, not HOW to do it.
In ancient times, samurai were trained killers. It would make sense that when these people came together to train, they would not want to accidently challenge or offend their training partners. Etiquette and manners were (and are) an important part of the training process in the Martial Arts.
So, at the Martial Arts school, we always say “hello”, “goodbye”, “please” and “you’re welcome”, we wait for someone to finish before we speak to them, etc. Oh, and “thank you”. We say (and mean) “thank you” a lot. And you know what? Before you know it, it becomes part of your lifestyle. You start to find that the “little pleasantries” in life mean more than you thought they did. You become more pleasant, and everyone around you becomes more pleasant as a result.
But here is the kicker; people are so programmed nowadays to expect you to bicker, complain and whine, that they are stunned when you present proper manners. And, the next time they need or want something, who will they choose? The guy who treated them like crap? No, the one who sticks out in their memory as being pleasant/mannered. I attribute my manners to my success in life as much as my college education (one cannot replace the other, however). Its that important.
There are some important points to remember, however. 1) You must be sincere. People have an uncanny ability to detect a fraud. 2) Don’t expect an immediate return on your investment (“if I am well-mannered in the interview, they are sure to hire me!”). Over the course of months and years, good manners will get you more in life that poor manners. 3) Dont expect people to understand you when you show exceptional manners; they will look at you like you have a fungus. It will take 2 or 3 times before they “get it”.
So would you like to increase the results of whatever you do in life? Great, just keep doing it, and add exceptional manners. It costs very little, but it will get you to stand out in the crowd. And if you don’t know how to have exceptional manners? Come visit us at Aikido of Nebraska, we can help.
Aikido of Nebraska was featured in the October Edition of the Star City Sports, a local newspaper/magazine fearturing recreation and sporting activities in the Lincoln area. The article is reprinted in its entirety below.
When you’re an emergency-room doctor who wants to open a martial arts school, it’s probably wise to avoid aggressive martial-arts styles that are deemed more likely to send participants to your emergency room.
Sensei Todd Roberts now has the best of both worlds. The emergency-medicine specialist enjoys his work as a doctor in the BryanLGH Medical Center Emergency Department. After hours, he now owns and operates Aikido of Nebraska, a new martial arts school at 4209 S. 33rd St., just north of Braeda Fresh Express Café at South 33rd and Pioneers Blvd. “I wanted to learn a form of martial arts since I was a kid,” said Roberts, “but with my line of work, I thought it might be wise to pursue a non-aggressive style,” he mused. Roberts graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1988, from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1993, and from his residency at Penn State in 1996.
For the past 14 years, he and his wife worked in New Jersey. The Roberts family chose the Garden State to train with instructors, R. Crane and K. Crane at Aikido Agatsu Dojos in Stratford, N.J. A professional opportunity presented itself earlier this year and the Roberts family moved back to Lincoln. In addition to working in the BryanLGH Emergency Department, Roberts has teamed up with LifePointe, 7501 S. 27th St., to teach workshops on self-defense for women.
Roberts teaches adult Aikido classes, offering group classes and private lessons from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Especially popular with women and adults of all ages, Aikido is considered to be a non-aggressive style. The basic principle of Aikido is “do not fight force with force.” It uses very few punches and kicks. Instead, the attacker’s force is redirected into throws, locks and restraining techniques. The techniques of Aikido are such that they can be applied to larger, stronger opponents with great effectiveness.
Aikido was founded by O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, who died in 1969 at the age of 86. “I like the fact that Aikido is graceful, flowing, sophisticated art,” Roberts observed. “O’Sensei believed that Aikido was not just a way to control violent encounters, but a path to one’s human potential,” Roberts added. “Regular training enhances your self-confidence, your discipline, and your interactions with others, and these are the true benefits of studying a martial way such as Aikido.”
For more information about Lincoln’s newest martial arts school, call (402) 261-6655.
The Gambatte Dojo at Aikido of Nebraska is now in its third week of classes. Without any advertising, we managed to bring in some quality students for our first weeks of class. All of us have had to do some figuring-out of expectations, but it has been a fun 3 weeks for all, and we are getting into the enjoyable routine of challenging and beneficial training.
The difficult task before us now is; how do we get the word out? The students know we have a valuable service to the community, and that many would benefit from this type of training, whether you are looking for fitness, mind-body connection, self-defense, or just to get away from the rest of life for 2 hours. When people see the benefits firsthand, they don’t have to be “sold”, they join. So, how do we let people know there is a valuable service in their community that they would want to participate in?
Of course there is the standard types of advertising; direct marketing, print media, radio, TV, and the internet. The trouble with these avenues is people are so inundated with “commercials” that they tend to tune them out, beneficial or not. At Aikido of Nebraska, we want to rely on the best type of advertising; word-of-mouth. So, we leave it to you – get the word out! Let your friends and family know about something they might be interested in. Let your co-workers know – you might even develop a better relationship with them. Help us get the word out. It would be a crime to have a service that someone wanted/needed, and they never knew it was just around the corner.