Traditional Japanese Martial Arts for Adults
Turning Weaknesses Into Strengths
In Aikido, I can move people much bigger than me. I can throw a bigger person across the mat with relative ease. I can control person much taller than me and pin them to the mat without exerting much energy at all. In fact, it is easier for me to perform Aikido techniques because, due to my height, I have a lower center of gravity than most others on the mat. A lower center of gravity gives me better balance than my peers and therefore, superior leverage. There is another advantage of being just under five feet tall: I have to learn proper Aikido technique, rather than just rely on my mass and strength to off-balance my opponent. Also, I've noticed taking falls (ukemi) is much easier for me than for larger people, since I am closer to the ground than they are.
One of my Aikido instructors in Japan, Iio Sensei (pronounced ‘ee’- ‘yo’) also taught me about physical alchemy. Physical alchemy is the ability to change one substance into another. In my case, I had to transform being short from that of a perceived liability to that of a powerful asset. Iio Sensei showed me how to embrace my height by modifying some Aikido techniques in such a way that Aikido students and peers now often say to me, “Wait a second! How did you just do that?”
My height also gives me a stronger bond to the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. Many new Aikido students are surprised to discover that Morihei (Osensei or “great teacher” as we refer to him) was not much taller than five feet himself! Yet, he is known by millions of people around the world as one of the greatest martial artist who ever lived. I never knew Osensei. He died several years before I was born. Nonetheless, because of my height I feel a kinship with him that perhaps many others do not.
Through Aikido I have learned to appreciate and value my stature. The art – the discipline – of Aikido has greatly contributed to my sense of self, my confidence and has taught me how to reevaluate perceptions and beliefs I have about others and myself. I have learned that nothing is one sided. There are benefits and drawbacks to everything. Aikido has even shown me how to recognize the balance, paradox and humor in the Universe. Today, I am thankful and grateful for the wondrous gift of being short. And, if you are shorter than you’d like to be, I, too, hope that you will one-day embrace your gift as I have mine.
Discover a physical path to self-mastery by visiting our Aikido school in Douglas County, Colorado. Castle Rock AIKIDO is only 20 minutes south of the Denver Metro area and just 30 minutes north of Colorado Springs. Come find out why so many Aikido students are willing to drive to Castle Rock from Denver and Colorado Springs to train at Castle Rock AIKIDO. Call 720-221-3665.
Everyone has something they don't like about their body. Some people wish they had different hair. Others wish they had different color eyes. Some people aren’t happy with their skin tone or quality and many people aren’t happy with their height. I was one of those people. Growing up in Japan, I didn't like the fact that I was short – even for a Japanese girl. When I was in a middle school, I eagerly joined the basketball club because I thought perhaps it might help me to grow taller (since almost everybody plays basketball is tall). I know it seems silly now, but trust me, for a 12 year-old, this was sound logic! I wanted to do anything I could to make myself taller. It turns out, I didn't have much luck growing taller, but then several years later, my future husband, introduced me to the martial art of Aikido – an art that would dramatically effect my self-image and self-esteem for the better. In retrospect, I find it kind of ironic that it was my American, Caucasian husband who introduced me to the native Japanese martial art of Aikido. “Why would I want to practice Aikido?” I said to him. “Aikido isn’t going to help me grow!” But Aikido did help me grow. Not taller, as I had hoped. Instead, Aikido helped me grow personally, psychologically and even spiritually. Training Aikido for the past ten years has helped me to embrace my height as an asset instead of an assumed liability. I used to think that my being 4 feet 11 inches tall was a negative quality (at least how I saw it). However, when I am practicing Aikido, I don't feel short.