October 11, 2006
The following letter is an act of bravery. When asked to write something describing his experiences as a schizophrenic training aikido, Justin readily agreed. When we offered to edit the letter so as to hide his identity, he declined, saying, “No, use my name. Maybe it’ll help someone.” Here is the letter written by Justin, who has been training in AKI PA since the late ’90’s.
“Dear fellow aikidoists and friends,
Hello. I am Justin, an aikidoist who was once diagnosed as having acute schizophrenia. I’d like to thank Steve Trinkle Sensei for giving me this opportunity to write a little about this. I feel it my joy to tell you of this, Aikido, and what it perpetuates, seemingly forgotten by many and yet to be found and remembered by some again.
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, now within me or without before, but that which was before and now not again.
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. This is a vital part of that. I have found Mind may be forgotten or lost by some, like myself, but will again be remembered in the end. Now I can say, as you also may find, I have the courage to choose this again. And that which this is, was that in all. That when I decide to move forward I have found where I must remain. And this, among many other teachings, are the hard lessons I am learning from this method.
I feel unable to speak of the joy and wonder I can achieve, together with the support of my fellows. I mean it feels so much to say just that. And because of changing only that part of that reality, that reality is starting to change for me, all together without much saying or doing in excess. Now my future ahead at least, looks promising, yet I now know this success is not at all self inclusive. I still wonder what it must have been like for me to have not known that my self was a larger Self. And now I have only to remember that this Self was not lost, but only forgotten. And I now say to my mind, “Mind, feel more and think less and better on you go.”, for it was not my loss of thought but my gain of a new mind, the Mind, of feeling. So now, I leave you to find it to be so for you, by finding that your Self was just forgotten and all you must do is remember it again. And that it is larger and much more beautiful than you have imagined it to be, so small and alone as you might once have been.
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.
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.
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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