I found Aikido when I thought it would be good for me to start learning some form of self-defence. I know a few girls at school who learn various different martial arts and they all speak very highly of it and so I thought it would be a good thing to look into further. As someone who is intrigued by Japanese culture I thought Aikido would be an interesting place to start. But I didn’t really know much else about it and so when I went to my first session I really didn’t know what to expect. I think it’s safe to say that from the beginning I was hooked. It was better than I could have hoped, and I knew that it was something that I would want to continue with long into the future.

One of the many things that made me stick with it, is the fact that I can get away and take a break from some of the stressful things going on. While I’m there I don’t have to worry about my mountain of school work and passing my exams. I can’t think about all that as I need to focus on getting my technique and my movement’s right. It’s a way for me to take a step back and focus on something else.

Something I didn’t expect was how quickly I would progress. It’s only been a few months, but I’ve already learnt so much, and I know there’s more to come. I can still remember learning how to do a forward ukemi (falling) and how nerve wracking it was doing something that went completely against my instincts. But now not only can I do them, I can also use them confidently when being thrown. And while I know they’re not perfect and I can still improve, it’s amazing to see how far I’ve come in so little time.

Starting something new has always been difficult for me, I’m a very self-conscious person and I hate drawing attention to myself. Aikido has helped me to push and overcome those boundaries and has helped me become more confident in myself. This was helped by the amazing people I train with. I was nervous when I first started group classes and I was worried that I was going to be far behind. But that quickly vanished. The people there were so welcoming and always happy to help me if I made a mistake. It’s partly due to that, that I really look forward to my sessions which have honestly become the best part of my week.

by Beth Harris