“We have about 50 adults who practice Aikido here,” said Mike Goodman, chief instructor at the school. “Our children’s’ program has about 40 students who train four to five days a week and an after-school group that part of an enrichment program with about 90 kids.”
Goodman, originally from New York City, attended Emory Law School in Atlanta and decided to become a permanent resident of Georgia in 1979. He started practicing aikido in 1996 and eventually became a student at the school. “I was interested in martial arts as a teenager from watching television and entertainment,” said Goodman. “I was able to reach a point in my life later when I could dedicate myself to an art.”
Aikido is a defensive martial art that means “the way of harmonizing with energy.” The concepts of the art tie into the belief of resolving conflict without destruction of your opponent. “We have joint locks and projection throws in aikido that doesn’t require you break the limbs of your opponent but immobilize them,” said Goodman.
The school hosts classes every day of the week and has a set curriculum for students to reach achievements through kyu rank tests.
“We have six Yondan, or fourth-degree black belt instructors, in our school which provides us with a rare brain trust,” said Goodman. “We’re blessed to have so many high-ranking teachers who have their own approach to aikido techniques that the students can benefit learning from everyday.” Some of these elite instructors include Bob Hodge, Luke Maranto, Derek Duval, Lynn Seiser and Tom Wilder.
The school also offers programs in other martial and cultural arts besides aikido such as myugai ryo iaido, or sword training, judo, ju jitsu, escrima, tai chi, yoga, Japanese calligraphy, Japanese language study, traditional Japanese dance and taiko drumming.
“The students gain physical fitness training aikido because we do a lot of ukemi, which means learning how to receive technique, including falling,” said Goodman. “This is good for flexibility, aerobic coordination and strength training.”
The final result of an aikido student goes beyond physical fitness. “The philosophy of this martial art allows you to see things from another person’s perspective. We’re using the energy of the attacker to help us deal with the attack, to blend with it. You can take that lesson out of the dojo and into your relationships, learning how to dissipate conflict.”