“My Early Days in Aikido,” by Stanley Pranin

“All the teenagers present, myself included, were captivated by the marvelous display of dynamic techniques replete with joint-locks and spectacular falls the likes of which they had never before witnessed. Since I regarded myself as rather weak physically, this strange oriental fighting art instantly captivated my imagination and visions of an all-powerful warrior (me!) repelling multiple attackers with the mere flick of a wrist lept tantalizingly into my mind. More than just casually interested in this mysterious art, several days later I went with a few equally curious schoolmates to the nearby dojo where aikido was practiced for a first-hand look.”

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  1. …and i just wandered into the old College Ave Aikido Institute the month that Bruce took over from Alan Gros, because neighborhood teenagers induced me to refresh and refine my fighting skills…

  2. I enjoyed reading your brief memoir, Mr. Pranin. I notice some similarities to my thoughts during my early days with no prior martial arts background whatsoever. My first day, I sat to watch. The sensei invited me to join, but I wanted to get some idea what I might be getting myself into through mitori-geiko (not that I even remotely knew a Japanese word at the time). I joined the following class, and having no clue about how to attack or fall was – although humbling – surprisingly not embarrassing. I got hooked pretty much right away. I can still remember how frightening “simple” mae ukemi were, but I asked more seasoned students how to accomplish these rolls along with ushiro, and slowly, with their help, I figured them out. I still feel like I do my own version of them which is incorrect, but what a relief it is to be able to do them at all! I suspect some other martial arts are incredible too, but the three sensei at my dojo, along with some generous, benevolent senpai, had a similar knack for unearthing the buried courage inside me. I believe I am a much more healthily secure person because of my years of training with positive peers and instructors.

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