AIKIDO ("the way of blending with energy") is a defensive martial art where one uses fluid, circular movements to blend with the motion of an attack and redirect that motion into dynamic throws or immobilizing pins. In addition to martial techniques, the art utilizes deep breathing, relaxation, centering, and proper body alignment. Consistent Aikido practice improves one’s physical conditioning—strength, balance, flexibility, coordination—and one’s mental conditioning—self-confidence, concentration, perception, and concern for others.


Aikido is a thoughtful art in that it does not cultivate aggression in order to counter aggression, and it continually reveals new and interesting things to those who practice it. Aikido is also a vigorous art. It takes your body, mind, and spirit beyond their ordinary boundaries into a new level of vitality.


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A Meditation On These Difficult Times:

It is the day after our first practice together since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and I am struck with incongruous feelings. First, there is the exhilaration and joy that comes from finally practicing Aikido in the presence of a community that I greatly value (feelings so intense they kept me up a good portion of last night). But alongside such pleasant emotions are also those of grief and frustration caused by the injustice and violence coursing through this nation.


So far as I know, there is no way to reconcile these divergent emotions; their uneasy togetherness is a common mark of these all-too-fractious times. I have no recommendations to offer and occupy no righteous position from which to offer them. But I do have a deep faith that our art can somehow speak to struggles for justice, dignity, and peace.


The presupposition of any martial art is that the human species (though not all human beings) has a propensity to violence and that there can be thoughtful ways of responding to this tendency. The deeper presupposition of Aikido is that a thoughtful response is moral and mindful, not just methodical and effective.


In the face of the continuing possibility of violence, our art compels us to connect--to each other, to the world, to the dangers and injustices that face us. Such connection is neither sentimental nor easy. It requires hard attention and persistent practice. It does not bring about a world we wish for, but it can help us improve and affirm the one that we have.


In the midst of our ongoing tumult, my mind returns to the central term of Aikido. One of the many meanings of the Japanese word ki is breath. Now is certainly a time when breath cannot be taken for granted. It can too easily be taken away by a stealthy virus or callous injustice. Our art tasks us to acknowledge a breath beyond our own.

Heath Atchley

June 2, 2020

The Core Values

of our Children's Class:




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Aikido of Amherst is an open and affirming community.  We welcome students of any national origin, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or preference. 

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