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Women's Jail

Workshop Series

In August, 2000 in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department, a two-part workshop was given by Lia Suzuki Sensei at La Morada Women’s Correctional Facility in Santa Barbara, California. The title of the workshop was Aiki Conflict Transformation. Aiki Conflict Transformation is a system of Conflict Resolution, which using Aikido principles, strives to harness the power of conflict and transform it into positive energy, enabling personal growth and development.

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“I was an inmate in the La Morada Women’s Minimum Security Jail in the summer of 2000. During that time I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in some workshops given by Lia Suzuki. Lia Sensei was teaching something she called ACT (AiKi Conflict Transformation).”

“These classes were mandatory. Few of us wanted to attend. I remember thinking this was the last thing I wanted to do.”

“I will never forget my first impression of Sensei Lia. She was the epitome of confidence. She made eye contact with each inmate and was clearly not intimidated. I was also impressed by what awesome shape she was in, WOW!!!”

“We started off by associating our mood with a color. I was a mellow mint green as I recall. We stretched and warmed up for five to ten minutes then were placed with a partner for the next phase of class. Lia called this Verbal Conflict Resolution.”

“We were instructed to start an argument with our partner then asked to “diffuse or avoid” one. Lia pointed out the exact moments in our conversations where we could “turn the conflict around” and gave examples of how to do so. Her teaching was very clear and the examples were quite effective. I was really surprised to see women who usually handle confrontations with violence use Lia’s suggestions.”

“We then moved on to the actual physical attack avoidance demonstrations.”

“Lia demonstrated moves with her partner, (the biggest woman there) on how to prepare and/or avoid an attack from the front and behind. Lia Sensei instructed the inmate to “really attack” her, but time after time her partner was unsuccessful in presenting any physical harm. Lia’s instructions were clear and easy to follow.”

“We then practiced these moves with our partners. As somewhat of a small woman, I remember feeling more confident after only a few tries. I was really surprised at how easy it was to avoid physical cofrontation and without hurting your attacker.”

“After the session we then checked in with our “mood-color” association. I was now a revitalized red!”

“We were lucky enough to have Lia return for three more sessions, only now , everyone looked forward to her class.”

“I would also like to tell you how, on several occassions, Lia’s teachings were incorporated into situations that might have otherwise become volatile. Anger was met with kindness and even the guards commented on how well we handled our conflicts.”

“I have been a productive member of society for six years now and still incorporate Lia’s teachings, when necessary, into my life.”

Melissa

Former Inmate and Workshop Participant

Why Donate?

Scholarships

AKI USA has provided over $25,000 worth of services to those in need. Recipients have included low-income children and veterans and their families. We believe that financial strain should never be a reason to not experience the benefits of Aikido training.

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Taking Aikido "Off the Mat"

Since 1999, we’ve been involved in ongoing projects employing Aikido in work addressing substance misuse and emotional/behavioral problems. We’ve offered workshops and seminars to jail inmates, recovering addicts, mental health patients, veterans with PTSD, and other under-served populations. The dojo also has collaborated with Probation Departments, by creating Aikido programs for At-Risk youth.

Peaceful Resolution of Conflict

Aikido, “The Art of Peace”, offers tools for the peaceful resolution of conflict, helping to put an end to violence in our communities. Aikido techniques do not utilize strikes. Instead, the attacker is subdued, using deflection and timing.

Our Impact

"I want to explain a little about what training Aikido has meant to me and how it has made a positive change in my life.

I had been training with Lia Sensei for about six months. I was 15 years old and I was starting to drink and do drugs - mostly marijuana.

To make a long story short, I was eventually apprehended by the authorities and charged with possession of marijuana and mushrooms.

Lia Sensei told me I could continue to be a member of the dojo if I agreed to train every day, no exceptions - six days a week for six months. I would have to attend all special trainings, even the 6 A.M. early morning trainings. That meant waking up before 5 to get to the dojo to set up and clean the mats. I also had to agree to be there and help with the kids classes. I said I would do it.

Lia Sensei, my parents and I met with my probation officer and he recommended to the judge that our dojo agreement be one of the conditions of my probation. It was hell. Well, at first anyway.

I think the whole experience really changed me. I think I have a lot more self confidence and focus now. I know that I can get through tough challenges because I proved to myself that I can keep going when I have to.

To this day, more than five years later, I’m still realizing the benefits of Aikido and the challenge that Lia Sensei gave me."

Jack

At-Risk Youth

"Hello. I am Justin, an aikidoist who was once diagnosed as having acute schizophrenia.

Through encouragement from Aikido Kenkyukai and its Pennsylvania dojo, I have found My Aikido - training my mind and my will to move beyond hardship and toil.

From Lia Sensei's helping me start Aikido, through Kirisawa Sensei, and now with Steve Sensei, I have learned many difficult meanings lost within a sickened mind, at which there is much undoing to be done.

I feel unable to speak of the joy and wonder I can achieve, together with the support of my fellows.

Now my future ahead at least, looks promising.

Justin

Aikido practitioner diagnosed with schizophrenia

"I was an inmate in the La Morada Women's Minimum Security Jail in the summer of 2000. During that time I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in some workshops given by Lia Suzuki. Lia Sensei was teaching something she called ACT (AiKi Conflict Transformation)."

"I would like to tell you how, on several occassions, Lia's teachings were incorporated into situations that might have otherwise become volatile. Anger was met with kindness and even the guards commented on how well we handled our conflicts."

"I have been a productive member of society for six years now and still incorporate Lia's teachings, when necessary, into my life."

Melissa

Former Jail Inmate, La Morada Women's Jail

"As a founding member of the Aikido for Veterans Project ("AFV"), Lia Suzuki Sensei and Aikido Kenkyukai International USA are committed to helping military veterans returning from war ease the transition from military to civilian life through the practice of Aikido.

In August, Suzuki Sensei traveled to Boulder, Colorado to volunteer as a guest instructor at the first Aikido for Veterans Seminar targeted toward military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD").

The seminar successfully introduced veterans to breathing and mindfulness techniques and Aikido techniques focused especially on centering and balance while moving, as well as Aiki Conflict Transformation principles.

Suzuki Sensei also serves as an active Advisor to AFV and is helping the group coordinate additional seminars for veterans in the future."

Dave Drake

Executive Director, Aikido For Veterans

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Or mail your check to:

  • Aikido Kenkyukai
  • PO Box 29621
  • Los Angeles, CA 90029

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Aikido Kenkyukai International USA is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation. Donations are tax deductible.

Tax ID: 26-3847946

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