Aikido is the martial art that the characters learn in Eight Times Up. It is a traditional Japanese art designed for self-defense. It uses evasion and circular movements instead of brute force. Instead of punching and kicking, aikido teaches students to overcome attackers by using their own force against them. These techniques involve joint locks, pins, and throws.
In Eight Times Up, Riley learns aikido as a way of managing his anxiety. Aikido is not a "cure" for anxiety or other mental health issues. However, it can help students to be more mindful of their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Aikido is non-competitive--there are no winners or losers--so students learn to care for their partner's well-being as much as their own.
A Typical Aikido Class
Every class begins with students kneeling together in a line. Together, they bow to their teacher and to the front of the room. It is important to show respect and gratitude for the opportunity to learn.
The class then does a series of stretches and basic movements to warm up. Doing this helps the body become relaxed and ready.
The teacher begins by demonstrating a technique for the class. Beginning students are paired up with senior students to make sure they are learning carefully and safely. Like with any new activity, it can feel overwhelming at first because there is so much new information. Aikido students make for generous teachers, however, and everyone remembers starting their aikido study in the same place and experiencing the same feelings. Everyone understands that growth takes time and patience.
After an hour or so, junior students are excused from the mats. Senior students stay to train with a greater level of complexity and intensity.
The best way to get a sense of aikido is to come watch a class!
History of Aikido