Kansas City Ki Aikido

Register for classes at Merriam Community Center

We meet for class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at:

Merriam Comminity Center
6040 Slater St.
Merriam, Kansas.

Please contact us at: KC KI Aikido

Kansas City Ki-Aikido

New Student Info

As you start in Ki Society Aikido classes, the main things you need to bring to class are your focused attention and the right approach.

We are happy to work with people who have disabilities. If you have a disability, health issues or injuries, let us know and we'll adjust to accommodate you.

You don't need to buy a uniform (called a gi) to start your practice. Sweat pants and a tee shirt will work just fine. You need pants that are long enough to cover your knees to protect them from mat burn. If you decide to buy a gi, we recommend a white, single weave judo gi because they are reinforced for throwing. Karate gi will tear easily.

We never wear shoes on the mat but you can choose to wear socks if you prefer. However, they can be slippery.

For safety, no jewelry except wedding rings is allowed. If you can easily take your ring off, I recommend doing that because the ring can cause severe pinching at times.

Trim finger and toenails short to avoid cutting your classmates.

Please don't wear heavy perfumes or colognes but do use a deodorant.

No food, drink or chewing gum to prevent choking hazards.

You learn best when you are in a calm, alert and fully focused on the class. We teach the physical practice of calmness even when in the most difficult circumstances and when in violent motion. Our practice includes meditation, breathing exercises and exercises that help you build calm, centered motion.

One big hurdle for new students is the awkwardness and frustration you will feel. That is not only normal, it's really a requirement as you learn new skills.

Absolutely everyone who learns a new skill makes a lot of mistakes. We will encourage you to fail often and learn from the failures. Fail again and again until you start to succeed.

We keep you in the zone between being bored because a skill is too easy and being frustrated because it's beyond your current capability. That's the way to learn fastest.

Our Approach

Ki Society Aikido is both a mental and physical discipline. We work to coordinate your mind and body.

"Thoughts become words. Words become actions. Actions become habits. Habits become our character. Character becomes destiny." - Anonymous

Mind leads body. Before you make any movement, your mind must tell your body to make the movement. This is true for every voluntary movement and also true for involuntary things like heartbeat, breathing and so on. Much of what we do is based on the decisions made at the subconscious level. We practice putting only positive things into our subconscious to build the actions that created practiced skill.

Since Aikido's aim is to improve our lives, we must start at the beginning and work with our thoughts. It is a given that your mind leads your body. We're not equipped to read minds but we can see what your body is doing. We can tell if your posture is centered and balanced. It's obvious if you're trying too hard and not relaxed.

The mind and the body are one thing. This is literally true. We are used to thinking of them as separate but your nervous system includes the brain, spinal cord and all of the peripheral nerves. Your limbic system, which controls how you 'feel' about everything is situated physically in your brain and gut. Your proprioception (sense of where you are in space) and balance depend on your peripheral nerves and your inner ear. In Shin shin toitsu Aikido, we work to fully coordinate your mind and body. Our discipline works with both.

Although it is a traditional Japanese martial art, we use our most current understanding of science and teaching, along with proven traditional methods to help you learn. Along the way you should improve balance, flexibility, stamina and coordination as well as better focus, calmness, self-control and awareness.

Your Role

Come to class prepared and ready to learn.

Be present, attentive and focused during class.

When you learn something, prepare yourself as if to teach it to someone else.

We focus on proper falling techniques. This is for your own safety and it is a great way to get a "feel" of a technique. Paying close attention while you are being thrown helps you to understand how the technique should feel when you apply it to someone else.

Immediately after each class, either mentally or in notes / journal form, review what you learned in that class.

Get enough rest. Get proper nutrition and otherwise take care of yourself.

Learning to move your body is very different from classroom learning. We'll be doing movements that feel very awkward at first. We focus very hard on getting the basic building blocks into your long-term memory. Expect to feel awkward and clumsy. We all do that for every new technique. That is the feeling of your brain rewiring itself.

You will get frustrated with yourself since we try hard to keep each student in the zone between "this is too easy and it's boring" and "This is impossible for a human being to do. Especially me." The reason we do that is to constantly challenge you at the limit of your current ability.

Being challenged also means you'll fail a lot. That's perfectly okay, try to learn a little bit each time something fails and you'll soon be able to move on to something more challenging.

How to Learn

You are the most effective teacher in the world. In fact, no one can teach you anything unless you help in the process. We will spend some effort on making certain that you learn how to learn most effectively and making sure we know what type of learning works best for you. We can then combine your efforts to learn with our efforts to teach in the most effective way.

Things you need to know about learning:
Learning new skills is NOT entirely a matter of genetics or inborn "talent". Your basic ability to understand something can be improved, along with the brain structures that support the learning. Everyone learns at their own rate. Some things come easier and some come harder but they all can be learned.

Learning effectively is possible at any age. Neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to form new connections and create memories) is stronger in younger people but is still present throughout life.

Everyone has a limited attention span. With training, the attention span can be increased. We do focus on mental training a lot. When the attention span is exceeded, we stop learning. We frequently change topics and switch between mental and physical activity in class. The breaks allow us to consolidate memories and when we interleave topics properly, help you to recall the lessons.

It is best to get an overall understanding of something before focusing on particular parts. For example, we'll demonstrate the whole technique several times so you can get a clear overall understanding before we focus on details like hand movement, posture, breathing, etc. This gives you a sort of "backbone" to build on. We understand thing best when we can also relate them to other things we already know. When you move into a new city, you start to memorize the routes to certain places. If someone takes you to a new place, you don't necessarily connect that route in your mental map but when you start to make the connection with areas you already know, you'll be able to remember it.

Deliberate, focused practice means practicing with a clear awareness of the specific components of a skill we want to improve and exactly how to improve them. Unlike regular practice where we drill a technique until it becomes almost mindless, deliberate practice is laser-focused. Regular practice is helpful to gain strength and flexibility but deliberate practice improves the skill. "Practice makes perfect" is absolutely wrong. Unthinking practice can make bad habits permanent. "Perfect practice makes performance".

Compounding improvement is the result of continued deliberate practice.
"The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest." - Albert Einstein
Einstein was referring to a positive feedback loop. Small incremental gains will compound over time. Even a 1% improvement per day means that you will be at least 365% better after a year. No matter where you start, if you are going in the right direction and don't allow your learning to degrade, you will be able to learn.

Learning best practices:

  1. First get an overall understanding of the thing you're trying to learn. This gives you a sort of backbone to tie the details together conceptually.
  2. Our attention span is limited to about 20 -30 minutes so break up the practice session in chunks. We also find it easier to tie concepts together if we learn them in "chunks". For example, we might spend a session working on the footwork for a technique and then practice that part for a while, then do the body movement and hands before finally putting the whole technique together.
  3. You remember things best when you have to struggle to fully recall them. The harder you have to work, the longer you retain the information. We often start a practice in one area, do something totally unrelated for a while and then return to the original theme, forcing you to recall what was discussed.
  4. Spaced repetition, repeating the information in different contexts and over increasing intervals, helps build long term skills. For example learn something on day 1, repeat it on day 3, again on day 7, two weeks later and so on.
  5. Testing yourself or being tested helps build skills. Pro tip: When you are reviewing a subject or making notes about it, make up some test questions or problems and put them on a flash card or onto a program such as Anki (Anki is an app that lets you make flashcards and then test yourself using spaced repetition.)
  6. Pay close attention during class and then immediately after class, review the material in your mind to help consolidate the memory. We also typically review the subjects we covered from the previous class each time we meet. Summarize the key points in your notes. The work of recalling the lesson and summarizing it as if you were going to explain it to someone else helps fix the memory.
  7. We must sleep in order to consolidate long term memory. Without enough sleep, you simply can't learn. Just as your muscles need sleep to repair, your brain needs sleep to build the myelin sheaths between your neurons that form long term memories. Pro tip: Mentally review whatever you're trying to learn just before bed and then meditate for a while to calm down. You'll both remember better and you'll sleep better.
  8. Your mind uses two modes during thinking, focused and diffuse. You need both types to allow memories to form most effectively. During focused mode, you filter out everything except the subject at hand. During diffused mode, your brain integrates the new information with the existing.
  9. Teach someone else. As you get an understanding of a new skill, teach it to another student and demonstrate it just as you'd do if you were teaching. This helps firmly set the skill in memory and also helps you when your student has unexpected difficulty.
  10. Debug yourself. If something didn't work quite as expected, take this as your queue to try and figure out why.
    • Were all the necessary prerequisites in place?
    • What happened just before the point when you realized something wasn't working properly??
    • Calm and centered with proper balance and distance?