Murray State is home to several unique clubs and organizations. Among those clubs is the Murray State Aikido Club.
Aikido is a form of martial art founded in 1925 by Morihei Ueshiba. His goal was to create a form of martial art that could be used for self defense, but also protected the attacker from injury as well.
“The techniques we use (at Murray State) are non-percussive,” said Jim Barnett, faculty member and leader of the Aikido Club. “It is unlike karate or taekwondo because it is not kicks and punches. We use blending movements with the attack to control the outcome. We don’t seek to harm other people in self defense, but come to a peaceful outcome.”
He said Aikido is a blend of most martial arts. It consists of using the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force rather than combating it head-on. This requires very little physical strength, since it uses the attacker’s momentum for protection.
“I always thought that Aikido was neat because it didn’t take much strength,” Barnett said. “It does, however, take great skill,” Barnett said.
Aikido means “way of combining forces.” The Murray State Aikido Club trains both mentally and physically as a way of combining forces, according to Barnett.
“Some moves appear very easy, but you get out there on the mat and try to put these things together and it can be very complicated,” he said.
The physical parts of training can include general fitness and conditioning as well as the techniques of martial arts. The group practices these physical aspects over and over in a general session.
The mental aspect of Aikido trains the person to relax the mind and body under stress and dangerous situations. Fighting the attacker works best when the person is calm, confident and direct.
Barnett also said he believes there are challenges when it comes to learning Aikido.
“It’s not an easy art to learn, because there is a lot of complex movement and a lot of timing involved,” Barnett said. “It’s challenging because you have to move in a precise way.”
Above the complex moves arises the greatest difficulty, according to Barnett.
“I believe persisting and sticking with it is what is most difficult,” Barnett said. “You hit these sticking points, and you just don’t feel like you are getting any better.”
Above all, however, Barnett said he enjoys the people he trains with and learning new things from each other.
The Aikido Club meets from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Carr Health Center Room 23.
The club has between six and nine regular members, with others who join when their schedule is convenient, Barnett said.
Each session begins with warm-ups, then three to four techniques that will be covered and practiced during that evening. After that, the club devoted time to weapon training.
Today, Aikido is found all over the world. Like any martial art, it has it’s own style and broad ranges of interpretation. Murray State has continued the practice.
Story by Hunter Harrell, Staff writer.
Photos by Lori Allen, Photography Editor.