Special 1-Day Seminar with Wendy Whited Sensei

Chicago Aikikai's photo.
Chicago Aikikai will be hosting a special one-day seminar with Wendy Whited Sensei (7th dan, Inaka Dojo) on Saturday, September 9, 2017.
Class times are 10:00 am – 12:00 pm and 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm. The afternoon class will be followed with dan (black belt) testing and a party from 5:30 pm.

Fee is $25.00 for the day. Aikidoka of all affiliations and levels are welcome.

Registration is via the Aikikai webpage here. You may also download the seminar flyer or visit the Facebook event page.
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Swords, Bridesmaids and Heavy Metal (No, seriously)

as reported by Dwight Sora


Something out of the ordinary about this picture

Several months ago, Chicago Aikido Club received a rather unusual request.

The maid of honor for an upcoming wedding was looking to do something different for the bachelorette party weekend. Something off the beaten track from the usual drinks and clubbing (though presumably there’d be plenty of that) or staid activities like pottery making or a group yoga session.

The maid, Lilly, had hit upon a novel idea. She had come across some Airbnb listings in Japan offering unique “experiences” with samurai themes, one titled “Samurai Sword Artist” and another labeled “Samurai Swordplay.” In each, participants paid for one or several training sessions in Japanese swordwork with a professional instructor.  It would all be for fun (and education) with no expectation of grading or continued study.

Lilly apparently hunted all over Chicago searching for a place that might offer a similar experience, eventually leading her to the front desk of the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC), where our club is based, who in turn directed her to us (and me, who took the call).

I must admit, I was taken off guard by the request. Other than general inquiries about membership or Aikido itself, the calls I receive at the dojo are for demos, kids classes (which we don’t have) or self-defense workshops. Technically, this was for a combination demo and workshop, but for a different sort of audience than we’d had before (school Japan day events, guest appearances at meditation centers, Chicago Asian American Heritage month, among others).

I was also concerned about the propriety of such an event; whether we might be violating some precepts about the sanctity of Aikido or the dojo space. I had a hard time imagining some of my elder instructors sanctioning it (I’m pretty sure a few older ones from Japan might have slammed the phone down in response). I also wondered if I would even be able to get anyone to assist. This concern became particularly acute when I checked and found that our regular training space (borrowed from Tohkon Judo Academy within JASC) would be unavailable on the scheduled date, and decided to try and call our friends at Chicago Aikikai and see if they would be interested in hosting.

Much to my surprise, Marsha Turner, the head instructor of Chicago Aikikai, gave me a thumbs up to go ahead. And even better, a bunch of Aikikai students expressed an interest in helping out.

This bolstered my confidence, and I went ahead and made the arrangements with Lilly. My hesitancy notwithstanding, I sincerely believe that for arts like Aikido to survive, there needs to be some serious out-of-the-box thinking in terms of public relations and advertising. And although I take my own training seriously, and respect the admonishments of shihan (master instructors) and others to not consider Aikido merely a form of recreation or a sport, I feel that we must also remember that in the contemporary United States, whether good or bad, what first draws many people to anything is an element of fun. And I was going to make sure that Lilly and her friends would have a fun time.

The date and time was set for 3:00 pm on Saturday, June 10. It would be a single 90-minute session. We would have nine participants (including one woman deep into pregnancy), and five Chicago Aikido Club and Chicago Aikikai volunteers teaching and assisting. Per Lilly’s request, there would be an emphasis on swordwork (inspired by the Airbnb listing), but we would also incorporate empty-hand techniques and expose the group to the fundamentals of Aikido (relaxing, breathing, moving in harmony with the attacker, etc.).

Dwight and Andy

Demonstrating for the bachelorettes

The session ultimately breezed by smoothly and effortlessly. Helped in no small part by the positive attitude and skills of the experienced Aikidoka, the attendees were given a chance to handle bokken, run through some basic drills, and try a handful of basic techniques. And much to my surprise, there was a high degree of probing questions from the gathered guests (honestly, I’ve been to plenty of regular intro classes with blank faces at the end).

As Lilly and her crew gathered to depart (and give their thanks and compliments), we all posed together for some snapshots. Made all the more memorable by the heavy metal-themed attire they had donned for the remainder of their bachelorette night.

babes with swords








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Saturday Summer Slam!

「Kay Sandacz Aikido images」の画像検索結果

The newly opened Milwaukee Shobukan dojo will be hosting its 1st annual Summer Slam with Kay Sandacz Sensei (5th Dan, Inaka Dojo). The event will include four hours of training divided into morning and afternoon sessions starting at 10:00 am and ending at 4:30 pm on Saturday, July 8.

Fee for the event is $25.00 for the entire day or $15.00 per session.  Attendees can download a waiver by going here and checking the guest box.


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Happy 50th Milwaukee Aikido Club!

Norio “Mike” Mamura, Dojo Founder

This weekend, our old friends the Milwaukee Aikido Club celebrate 50 years of dedicated training with a special anniversary seminar. The dojo was founded in 1967 by  Norio “Mike” Mamura Sensei (1918-2000), who was originally from Koolau on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, and began studying Aikido by traveling from Milwaukee to the old Illinois Aikido Club in Chicago.

The instructor lineup for the seminar includes guest Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan (7th dan, Boulder Aikikai), Debra Mamura Belter Sensei (3rd dan, Mamura Sensei’s daughter and current Chief Instructor of Milwaukee Aikido Club), and Chicago Aikido Club‘s own Joe Takehara Sensei (6th dan).

The seminar is being held at the Milwaukee School of Engineering Kern Center. Full details are available at the dojo website.

「Joe Takehara Aikido 6th dan」の画像検索結果

Joe Takehara Sensei and Debra Mamura Belter Sensei at Milwaukee Aikido Club






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VoyageChicago Profile

Chicago Aikido Club just received notification from the magazine VoyageChicago that their recent interview with club member Dwight Sora has been posted.

The interview is a brief introduction to Aikido and Chicago Aikido Club, and may be viewed at the VoyageChicago website here.

Photo: Jim Moy

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2017 Asian American Heritage Month Festival Aikido Demonstration

Dwight Sora2017 AAHM demo 7

Left to Right: Luke Sims, Joe Grospe, Ed Reiff, Dwight Sora

The combined ASU dojo Aikido demo made a successful return appearance to the Asian American Coalition Annual Festival (in celebration of Asian American Heritage Month) at Richard J. Daley Plaza on Tuesday, May 23. This year’s participants represented three different dojo: Joe Grospe (Lake County Aikikai), Ed Reiff (Chicago Aikikai), Luke Sims (Chicago Aikikai), and Dwight Sora (Chicago Aikido Club).

2017 AAHM demo 4

This year’s audience, keeping dry from the rain outside.

A rainstorm meant that all performances were moved inside the Daley Center, on a stage smaller than last year’s and without mats. Despite that and slight half hour delay to allow students from St. Therese Chinese Catholic School in Chinatown to perform their dance routine first and get back to school, the Aikido demonstration went off without a hitch and was well-received by those in the audience.

Left: The demo team at Daley Center (Joe Grospe, Dwight Sora, Luke Sims, Ed Reiff;
Right: Selfie with 2017 Festival Performance Chair Arshia Hussain

After being introduced by Festival Performance Chair Arshia Hussain, Dwight Sora introduced the demo team, provided a brief explanation of Aikido and its traditions, and narrated as the different team members rotated performing various exercises and techniques illustrating the concepts of Aikido.

Introducing the audience to the basics

The demo concluded with a variety of different freestyle techniques. At the end, the participants had an opportunity to take a photo with the organizers and certificates of appreciation were presented to the dojo.

Aikido in action

2017 AAHM demo 14

With representatives of this year’s sponsors, the Pakistani community


Thanks from the organizers.
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Upcoming Aikido Demo at Daly Plaza


Members of the Chicago Aikido Club and Chicago Aikikai will again be performing an Aikido demo for the 2017 Asian American Coalition of Chicago Annual Festival at Richard J. Daley Center (50 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602) on Tuesday, May 23. This will be the second time the organizations have demonstrated at the event, the first being last year. The demo will start around 1:15 pm on the outdoor event stage.

The festival is sponsored  by the Asian American Coalition of Chicago (AACC), an organization founded in 1983 representing over 16 Asian communities in the Chicago Area





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Abiding Spirit Aikikai Chop ‘Til You Drop Fundraiser (Saturday, May 20)

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Inaka Dojo 25th Anniversary Seminar

Inaka Dojo in Beecher, Illinois will celebrate its 25th anniversary this weekend with a special training seminar on May 5 – 7, 2017. Special guest instructors will be Chuck Weber Sensei (7th dan) and Charlie Page Sensei (7th dan) of Baltimore Aikido.



Chuck Weber Sensei and Charlie Page Sensei

Classes are scheduled for 6:30 pm Friday, 10:00 am and 2:30 pm Saturday, and 10:00 am Sunday.

Seminar fees are $150 for the full seminar and $45 per class.
Per class $45

Inaka Dojo is located at 704 Dixie Highway in Beecher. For full information, visit the seminar event page.



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The Health Benefits of Internal Martial Arts (speech by Grandmaster Wai Lun Choi)

Grandmaster Wai Lun Choi

At this year’s Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame Banquet (where Chicago Aikido Club senior instructor Joe Takehara was a recipient this year), the event opened with a speech by Grandmaster Wai Lun Choi, an expert in Liu Ho Ba Fa and 2016 Hall of Fame inductee.

Grandmaster Choi’s speech covered his thoughts on the internal martial arts. The complete text has been provided here courtesy of Hall of Fame organizer Pete Hoffman.



Presented at the Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame Banquet on April 1st, 2017


Martial arts practice is not just for self-defense.  It also has great value in promoting and maintaining our health as we grow older.


It is well known that from birth until about age 30, the body is generally strong and vibrant.  After 30 years of age the body naturally starts to slow down. After 30 one’s overall energy starts to go down and many people easily become tired from vigorous physical activities. While this natural change with aging affects many people, some individuals are able to avoid these negative affects.  One of the reasons many people have low energy as they age is that when doing physical activities they only use hand power, and do not use whole body mechanics.  The old masters identified that using only hand or muscle power in this manner, in martial arts training, is described as external style martial arts.


In 1971 at the age of 31, I challenged myself in order to test my courage, and signed up to compete in the all Southeast Asian hand to hand tournament.  After this tournament, as I began getting older, I started to feel my energy and endurance begin to lessen.  It was at this time that I began to analyze and study the internal style training principles and methods in more detail.  In studying the classic writings of the old masters I noticed that the founders of the internal martial arts were also interested in understanding this problem of decreasing energy that occurs as we age.  The masters figured out that by using whole body mechanics, leverage, comfortable breathing and gravity they were able to prevent the fatigue, low energy, and weakness often associated with aging.


The masters of the internal martial arts realized that the first thing one has to learn is to completely relax the whole body.  They also understood that one has to learn how to get the whole body united as “one piece”.  A united body structure and proper body mechanics allows you to move as a single unit.  This principle was later described by Newton in his second law of motion, which states that “force equals weight times speed”.  Based on this law of physics, when one moves with the whole body connected as one piece, greater amounts of force can be generated.  An example of this type of whole body power is illustrated in the power generated by a battering ram used to break through a strong door.  The internal methods that the old masters developed and practiced involve using mind and whole body mechanics, not using muscle power alone.  If you only use muscle power, you just use your hand and muscles, and do not use your whole body weight.  The masters of old also understood that in addition to getting the body structure to be united as one piece, it is also important to develop harmony of motion.  When we talk about harmony of motion we are referring to the coordinated opening and closing of the nine main joints in the body.

Returning to the topic of whole body relaxation, the reason why it is so important to relax completely is that when you’re relaxed, your breathing will be natural and comfortable.  We all know that we breathe in order to get oxygen into our bodies, and to circulate the oxygen through the body, so we can have the energy we need to move.  When one is not relaxed one’s breathing is shortened and delivers less oxygen into the body.  This will cause fatigue to occur.  Not being able to relax can create other problems as well.  First there is the problem of mental pressure, which will create tension in the body and affect one’s energy and speed.  In addition, if you are tense in the body for too long, this depletes the oxygen in your body quickly, and you become tired and thus slower in movement.  Excessive mental and physical tenseness can also lead to damage of one’s nervous system, musculoskeletal system, circulatory system, and can potentially cause damage to the heart as well.  When we understand the effects of this type of tenseness, it should motivate us to practice relaxation exercises in order to prevent these negative health effects.  One of the most effective ways to develop whole body relaxation is through standing meditation practice.  This kind of meditative relaxation exercise can be called a “natural medicine”.  Relaxation practice of this type has many health benefits and costs no money at all.  Standing meditation relaxation practice can help reduce and prevent much of the illness, sickness and suffering that frequently occurs as people age.  However, we should also remind ourselves that proper nutrition, healthy eating as well as regular aerobic exercise are important for maintaining good health as we age.  In addition, regular check ups with one’s health care provider is recommended for the overall prevention of illness and medical problems associated with aging. 


In closing, let me say that although we know that one day we will all have to leave this world, it’s very important for us to do what we can to maintain our health and energy as well as to limit our sickness and suffering as we age.  When eventually it is our time to pass on, the best we can hope for is to leave this world naturally and peacefully, and if possible, with a minimum of sickness, illness and suffering.







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