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February 23, 2010

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Keen for aikido martial art

AIKIDO, a gentle Japanese art of self-defense, stresses focus and balance, minimum effort for maximum effect. It's catching on with young women who want to stay fit, as well as guys. Chen Ye reports.

A Japanese martial art of self-defense, aikido, is gaining followers in the fast-paced city. Exercise to de-stress as well as stay fit is becoming popular. This includes tai chi and other Chinese martial arts, as well as yoga, taekwondo and various kinds of boxing.

Aikido was founded and developed in Japan by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), also known as O'Sensei,

"I want thoughtful people to listen to the voice of aikido. It is not for correcting others; it is for correcting your own mind," Ueshiba once said.

Aikido is essentially non-combative and non-competitive; it uses minimum force to achieve maximum effect and emphasizes focus and balance. The practitioner blends with the motion of the attacker and redirects the force back to the attack - rather than using a violent counterattack.

"I love doing exercise, but as a young woman I don't want muscular arms and legs," says a French woman with level-four aikido who has been learning for two years in Shanghai who only identifies herself as Didi.

"But aikido lets me throw a heavy person far away without a lot of muscle training - you learn to seize the proper moment to move with ingenious aikido skills," she says.

"The first time I saw Steven Seagal practicing aikido in a movie, I fell for the martial art," says Lisa Chen, manager of Aiki Club on 696 Weihai Road. "I like reading Japanese comics and the characters in aikido costume make me fall in love with the martial art all over again."

She just loves the simple black trousers and white wraparound jacket that makes her look like a character from a Japanese comic. It was the clothes that hooked her.

"But after three lessons, I felt that I was genuinely committed to the martial art and its traditional ethical, moral and spiritual values," says Chen.

Another young woman, who declines to give her name, says she used to be sad and insecure, always ignored at sports events because of her poor sense of balance and coordination.

"Through aikido, I got my confidence back by remembering the main principle: don't force yourself to be somebody else, just improve yourself with practice."

James, an aikido instructor with 17 years' experience, says the martial art has given him inspiration in his work as a creative director and helped him avoid taking unnecessary risks.

James, who declines to give his full name, says the spiritual aspects of aikido have penetrated into all aspects of his life.

Some venues offering aikido classes:

Aiki Club

Address: Rm 403, Bldg 11, 696 Weihai Rd

Hours: 7-8pm, 8:15-9:15pm, Tuesday and Thursday; 10:30-11:30am, 1:30-2:30pm, 2:45-3:45pm, Sunday

Cost: 10 classes 500 yuan; 30 classes 900 yuan, half year 1,600 yuan, one year 3,000 yuan

Tel: 150-0188-6899, 150-0188-6822

Yangpu Stadium

Address: 640 Longchang Rd

Hours: 7pm, Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Cost: 180 yuan for two months

Tel: 6591-5930

Nanjing Road W. Aiki Club

Address: No.2, Lane 591 Nanjing Rd W.

Hours: 7pm, Thursday; 1pm, Saturday

Cost: 10 yuan a class

Tel: 6258-0973

Shanghai Wushu Center

Address: 595 Nanjing Rd W.

Hours: 7pm, Tuesday and Thursday

Cost: 25 yuan a class

Tel: 6215-3599

Xujiahui Aiki Club

Address: 64 Wulumuqi Rd S.

Hours: 7pm, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

Cost: 300 yuan for two months

Tel: 6437-6660


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