Aikido: "The Art of Peace"
Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba ("O-Sensei") in the late 1920's and 1930's. The movements and techniques of Aikido are derived from the many traditional Japanese martial arts studied by O-Sensei in his long years of practice. These include Kenjutsu (Japanese sword work), Aiki-jiu-jutsu, and Judo, to name only a few. Where Karate and Tae Kwon Do are "hard" martial arts, Aikido is often considered a "soft" martial art, which focuses on using an opponent's strength and aggression against themselves.
Aikido has many expressions, ranging from slow-deliberate movements (think Tai Chi) to almost-acrobatic techniques. All these expressions derive from two main sources: the Aikido organization itself, and each instructor's interpretation.
What has always distinguished Tenshin (Tenjin) Aikido - and in particular, Taka Sensei's school of Aikido - is its efficiency and practicality. Tenshin Aikido is uniquely focused on dealing with single and multiple attackers using Aikido's minimalist technique. Where many Aikido schools view Aikido as a metaphor for life, Tenshin dojos put that metaphor into action. The only official Tenshin Aikido dojo in the midwest is Three Rivers Aikido.
Three Rivers Aikido Dojo
Three Rivers (in Japanese, "San Kawa") Dojo is a first generation dojo under the direction of Master Steven Seagal. Three Rivers Aikido has been serving Saint Louis residents of all ages - 6 years old, to our oldest member at 73 - for more than a quarter of a century. Martial arts dojos often draw from the expertise of only one instructor. One of the greatest strengths of TRA is its diversity of instructors. It has always been a tradition for Three Rivers Aikido black belts to pass on the instruction they have received.
Sensei Elliot Freeman
Sensei Freeman (6th degree black belt) is one of Taka Sensei's principal students and direct representatives - leading seminars around the world for fellow Aikidoka, military, security, and law enforcement. He has been doing Aikido for more than 40 years, and is the founder of Three Rivers Aikido. He holds a 6th degree black belt in Aikido, 4th degree black belt in Mu Duk Kwon (TKD), a 6th degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu Karate, a 2nd degree black belt in Kendo, a 2nd degree black belt in Iaido, has served as adjunct faculty for several universities in the St. Louis area, and is the Chief Instructor of Defensive Tactic Technologies, a P.O.S.T. certified law enforcement program (co-authored with Taka Sensei).
In a dojo, there is a certain air of politeness. This is a very Japanese concept, and stems from a sense of profound respect for one's teachers, training space, and training partners. An important thing to remember about training at Three Rivers Aikido is to maintain a high level of respect at all times. Use the proper polite greetings (see vocabulary list HERE), bow at appropriate times, never speak out of turn, don't use foul/vulgar language anywhere near the dojo, and so-forth.
For a complete list of dojo etiquette, click HERE.
You don't need to memorize these guidelines, and you won't be expected to know them all right away - but they're here for reference. Everyone violates a few of them on occasion, particularly when the atmosphere in the dojo is playful, rather than studious. However, always remind yourself of where you are and what you're trying to accomplish. Remember to be respectful, and the rest is easy to pick up. Whatever the rules may be, respect is the basis for them - and respect is expected. Always.