Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Aikido Helps the Seminarian Gain Discipline

Story by Romple Emwalu; photos by Romple Emwalu and Sister Hilda Kleiman

This fall the Aikido class, which meets three times a week and is taught by Mr. Jim Sisley, teaches the student discipline. "Aikido creates mental flexibility for me," said Mr. Gonzalo Siller, a second-year theologian at Mount Angel Seminary.

Mr. Jim Sisley, far right, leads the Aikido class in warm up exercises.

The warm up exercises included rolls and falls.

Mr. Siller is taking Aikido because he likes to exercise daily, and he has learned to protect himself without attacking his opponent.  He also finds Aikido very helpful because it gives him a calm moment and helps him to contemplate in prayer.  "The techniques of Aikido could apply to seminary life and the studies at the seminary," said Mr. Siller.

Mr. Jim Sisley, an assistant professor in English Communications, said his big challenge is to help the seminarians to understand that Aikido is not about fighting.  It is about learning how to protect yourself and your opponent and to discipline yourself to be able to defeat yourself, your anger, and your pride.  Mr. Sisley said, "It is hard to teach the class because there are only guys who are learning it.  Sometimes it would be helpful where there are girls because they could teach the guys to be gentle and not to be harmful."

Mr. Sisley said, "One great similarity between Aikido and the Catholic Church is the teaching of do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

"It is difficult to love your enemy; Aikido teaches you how to be able to love that person," said Mr. Sisley.  He sees that the philosophy behind Aikido is very hard to understand, as is the teaching of the Church.  "Aikido takes time to learn and is always welcoming of anyone to give it a try," said Mr. Sisley.

Mr. Jim Sisley and Dr. Duncan Parks offer a demonstration for the class.

Michael Sztajno and Gonzalo Siller practice the move demonstrated by Mr. Sisley and Dr. Parks.

After seeing another move demonstrated by Dr. Parks and Mr. Sisley, Michael Sztajno practices with Dr. Parks. 

Romple Emwalu practices with Dr. Parks.

Mr. Sisley and Dr. Parks demonstrate a final move for the day's class.

According to Mr. Sisley, Aikido helped him to be calm and taught him not to be egotistically involved in the conflict.  "Aikido is different from other martial arts.  Aikido's technique is more focused on the unity and harmonizing with your opponent.  You don't have to be a big or strong person, but rather use the person's energy in finding your balance to be able to control and protect the person and yourself from harm," said Mr. Sisley.  "It also teaches one to respect the opponent," said Mr. Sisley.

Mr. Sisley sees that Aikido provides a positive attitude and discipline for the seminarian's life.  Mr. Sisley first learned Taekwondo, a Korean martial art.  Mr. Sisley was looking for a martial art that would help his health mentally and physically and that would help him gain discipline.  After he started to attend the Aikido class in 1995 at Washington State University, Mr. Sisley became interested to learn more about it.

The students practice defending themselves against their opponents without causing any harm.

Mr. Sisley offers additional suggestions as the class continues practicing.

Mr. Sisley said, "Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art method that came from the way of the sword, but now it focuses on the power from within the master or person who masters it."  Mr. Sisley explained that during the 1800s when Japan was not united, there were some samurai, lords, and clans fighting each other.  Even though they had an overarching emperor, battle happened all the time.  At one point, Japan became united, and the samurai were no longer needed.

Their service was no longer necessary, so they ended up teaching what they knew.  From this time, many martial arts started to be taught.  "Aikido is one of those martial arts that was developed by Morihei Ueshiba," said Mr. Sisley.

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