Aikido For Veterans Seminar
Lia Suzuki with Hiroshi Ikeda, Tom Osborn, Bruce Heckathorn, Mark Williams and others.
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”). PTSD is a psycho-somatic disease affecting the body and mind of soldiers in harmful ways and AFV is at the forefront of demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of Aikido practice for veterans suffering from PTSD.
The seminar successfully introduced veterans to breathing and mindfulness techniques taught by veteran-instructor Major Mark Williams and Aikido techniques focused especially on centering and balance while moving. The seminar was hosted by Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan, 7th dan, of Boulder Aikikai and featured guest instructors Tom Osborn (Massachusetts) and Bruce Heckathorn (Denver), both military veterans who discovered Aikido after military service and teach other servicemen and women the benefits of practice.
Suzuki Sensei also serves as an active Advisor to AFV and is helping the group coordinate additional seminars for veterans in the future.”
Taking Aikido "Off the Mat"
Peaceful Resolution of Conflict
Humanitarian & Philanthropic Projects
"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."
"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.
"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."
"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."
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