Saturday June 30th was not only my first day interning at AKSB but also an all ages class and the kid’s belt ceremony. It was even more exciting because I was able to get close to all the action (but not too close) and take photos. As a martial artist myself, I’ve been wanting to photograph what goes on in classes and I’m glad that I was able to have this opportunity.
The all ages class was indeed just that as the age range was from 3 years old to adult. Before class even started, the teens knew what was expected of them. After dressing, they cleaned both the dojo and the office area. I noticed that many of the youngest kids knew to respect their elders and asked them if there was any cleaning that needed to be done. Clean first and play after seemed to be agreed among all.
Class started with traditional bowing in and then stretching. I was surprised and thoroughly impressed that even the 3 year old was not shy and boldly counted out the numbers one through five correctly in Japanese. Through everything that Lia Sensei and Matt Sensei instructed the students to do, the energy level never lowered and continued until the end of class.
I’ve caught glimpses of Aikido before but never sat through an entire class. I was most amazed with the ukemi (rolling/art of falling), specifically when the teens leaped over seven or eight other students crouched on the ground. It was also new to me that the students kept count of how many ukemi they had mastered by the end of class. This class’ top score was forty ukemi. Since rolling is one of my favorite aspects of martial arts, the class was definitely luring me in with how much fun they were having. At the end, it looked like everyone had enjoyed themselves.
This class concluded with the kid’s belt ceremony. Those who tested were awarded with stripes to add to their belts. This ceremony wasn’t only just for testing but to congratulate Chris on finishing his first year as Leadership Advisor and to also renew his contract for another year. When the ceremony was over, I thought it was also really neat that all the students were eager to express how they felt the class went and also what they learned.
What ceremony isn’t complete without an after party of food, drink and toasting to congratulate everyone? It was heart warming to see that everyone was comfortable with each other even when they weren’t on the dojo. Rank and age didn’t matter after class as all got together to celebrate. I had a great time being able to watch and take photos at my first day interning. Just by being here for a few hours, I could already tell that AKSB is a welcoming community, open to all.