The university’s Aikido club may be the oldest practicing campus martial arts club, but its legacy isn’t the only aspect that helps it stand out.
John Flowers, club president and graduate student in philosophy from Chicago, said Aikido is an authentic Japanese martial art focused on non- violence.
“I view Aikido as a non-violent way to avoid conflict,” he said.
Brian Stanfield, Aikido head instructor and graduate student in Philosophy from Indianola, Iowa, said the club started 30 years ago when the
campus experienced an increase in rape incidents.
“It started off as a way for women to protect themselves,” he said. “It serves for someone who might not be as strong or as big as their aggressor.”
Aikido also teaches self- confidence, emotional maturity and physical flexibility, according to the club’s information flier. Training involves two partners who, rather than fighting freestyle, practice pre- arranged forms where the move’s receiver initiates an attack against the thrower, who neutralizes it with an Aikido technique.
Stanfield said the club accepts both students and other Recreation Center members at any skill level.
“We don’t expect people to know what we are teaching,” Stanfield
said. “The club is a very much an instructional club.”
Aikido differs from other martial arts because it’s not competitive, he said.
“It is kind of a thinking person’s martial art form,” Stanfield said. “It’s starting and ending point is to protect yourself.”
The club is nationally affiliated, Stanfield said, and every instructor is certified.
Rob Gallegly, an Aikido instructor, said his Aikido club
goes back 16 years, and he has taught 11 years.
“When I first started, people spent a lot of time and energy on me,” Gallegly said. “This is my way of keeping it up.”
Gallegly said the Aikido club teaches fitness, self-perfection and physical limitations.
“To me, Aikido is the ultimate conflict resolution, whether that be conversational or defensive,” he said.
The focus on attack neutralization rather than being the aggressor
sets Aikido apart from every other martial art, Flowers said.
“Aikido translates harmonious energy from the attacker to the suppressor,” he said.
Aikido gives Flowers a less aggressive way to fight and is different than other martial art forms he has practiced.
“I genuinely enjoy martial arts, and I want to expose everyone I can to Aikido’s philosophy,” he said. “It gives them a way to resolve conflict in daily life.”
Aikido gives people peace of mind, as well as a different way to look at conflict, he said. Aikido also applies to all types of people, regardless of body type or personality.
“People often think they cannot do martial arts because they are not strong or fast enough, but with Aikido it’s about applying technique,” Flowers said.