If you are self-isolating or in lockdown because of COVID-19, it's possible you may be prevented from practising aikido for weeks or even months. It's also important to keep physically active, for your physical and mental wellbeing... so what's the answer? You will have to find a regime that works for you, in your personal circumstances (how much space do you have, does anyone you live with also practise aikido, and so on).
Here are some thoughts, based on the assumption that you don't have a practice partner, don't have tatami, but do have some outdoor space and a jo and bokken.
- Keep doing the usual warm-up and stretching exercises ("undo"); you probably have room to do these indoors, but outdoors is also good. Practising them on your own is a good way to internalise the exercises, rather than being led through them at the start of a class. Take time to note which parts of the body you are working on, and be mindful of any problem areas.
- Kokyu-ho exercises, like torifune (the rowing exercise) are useful outside the normal warm-up routine, too.
- Practise basic steps and body movements (tai sabaki); changing hanmi, pivoting, turning; shuffle-step (tsugi-ashi) and alternate step (ayumi ashi). Stay stable. Practising outside, on uneven ground, is useful for this.
- Combine the basic steps and movements with bokken work; a simple shomen or kiri tsuke as you move.
- Work on the "7 movements" jo form. Once you are comfortable with it, develop by adding movement back and forth. Once you are happy with that, increase your fluidity by adding circular movement. Smibert sensei has demonstrated this at several seminars.
- Now is also a good time to re-inforce your aikido vocabulary. Write down the name of the technique, and then a sentence or two that describes it to you. This will help you when it comes to grading.
Domo arigato gozaimashita.
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In aikido, we learn both from applying the techniques and from receiving them. One cannot learn aikido by doing only one or the other. We also learn that aikido has the potential to do harm, and that we have a responsibility to understand how to practice it safely and beneficially - not selfishly or harmfully.
Thinking about the current coronavirus epidemic, one can look at it in two ways: first, what is my risk of catching the virus? Second, what is the risk of my passing it on to others?
Catching the virus is clearly bad for the individual, but passing it on to multiple other people is worse for the population as a whole. I would encourage everyone to limit their contact with others, so as to slow the rate at which the virus spreads, and help keep vulnerable people safer.
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