I?ve been with Aikido of Maine for a solid eight years now. I?m in college now but I started when I was ten years old. Wow that was a long time ago. I remember distinctly why I signed up too. My mother was trying to get me into some sort of sport and Aikido was recommended to her by one of her friends. Having recently seen ?The Matrix? I readily agreed to start, anything to learn to do those crazy backflips and fly through the air. I did not find what you see in The Matrix at Aikido of Maine, I found something even better.

At first I was just goofing around. I liked learning the techniques but being a child I was not really interested in focusing long enough to figure out the intricacies of the movement. I was happy enough to run around with great people and play games and learn the basics in a fun, safe place. As I got older that started to change. I noticed how good some people were getting and, motivated by a bit of jealousy; I finally committed myself to improving and not just having a good time. And man did things take of from there. I started to improve rapidly under Gary Sensei?s teaching and slowly worked my way up through the belts. At age 13 I started to go to adult classes as well. At 14 I left the youth program and started only doing Adult classes, coming back to help assist Gary Sensei in youth classes every once and awhile. I started to learn Aikido in a much deeper way. Every night I was learning more and more, whether it was the fast paced, sweat inducing, Physically intensive stream of movement that Ania Sensei brings to her classes, or the subtle, technical, energy (with a bit of physically intense movements worked in) that Gary Sensei teaches, I was slowly refining my movements.

My technical skill wasn?t the only thing that they were teaching me. I was learning respect, resilience, and developing my sense of self. This was very important to me as I was bullied as a child. Aikido not only gave me a safe haven to go to when sad or depressed but also helped me realize who I am and feel comfortable with that. Even now I remember the first time the concept of Shugyo was explained to me. ?The refinement of the body and spirit. Like a sword maker strikes the impurities out of his sword?s metal you must use mental focus and physical training to refine yourself.? I still use this concept to better myself often.

Now I am in college. I can?t go to the Aikido of Maine anymore but I still practice Aikido at a local dojo. It has become something I love and want to take with me through me entire life. If you are thinking of joining or thinking of having a son or daughter join let me say this: You are making a good choice. The dojo is a place where you will build positive relationships and make friends while training your body and mind. It is a safe place where everyone is kind and helpful and you are always welcome.

If you decide that Aikido is not for you then that is fine. If you decide to give it a shot then welcome to the family! With time and patience Aikido really can change your life. Hey, it did for me.

Nicholas Perron, Aikido of Maine member since 2003