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Melodie Wilmann from Friesenheim, DE, 1. Dan Tendoryu Aikido, 2007

Posted 16/2/2019

People often ask me the same questions concerning Aikido: why am I practicing Aikido and especially why have I been practicing it for such a long time? Do I feel safer on the streets as a young woman because I’m learning ‘self-defense’?

These are justified questions – also the one about ‘self-defense’. But to answer them properly I need to tell you about my experiences from the very beginning:

Me starting to practice Aikido can be equated with our dojo moving from Lahr to TV Friesenheim. At that time I started because my dad and my brother already practiced Aikido – not out of pressure, but because I really wanted to know what they were doing there. Besides it just looked cool; so easy and flowing.

Back then, I was 10 years old and – yes! – being ten means you have to be thrilled to such an extent that you keep doing it for a long time (in my case it worked really well, as you can see!). The first units mainly consisted of learning the art of falling, playing and one technique per week – and to keep us interested, our trainer held little demonstrations of Randori in order that we could see where our practicing could lead to.

In Aikido we alone are responsible for what we are doing. We cannot tell the Uke that he attacked wrong or that the Shite guided us wrongly so that we could not use our Ukemi in a right way. When you are doing techniques, you need self-confidence – I am responsible for my partner falling in a good way and my partner is it for me doing a right technique. Learning self-confidence in Aikido is really important and I was confronted with it pretty early: In the beginning I often was reprimanded because I did not attack in a right way or was not reacting appropriately or also just because I was really lacking in concentration and messing around. At that time, I thought I got a raw deal but today I do understand most of it since I’m now a trainer myself. And from time to time I need to grin because I notice that most of the children are doing the same things I did in the past. That led me to learning that not everything I had been told when I started with Aikido was wrong.

Through the years I was then allowed to train with the adults and also to go to Aikido seminars. I remember my first seminar – it was with Shimizu Sensei. There I got the opportunity to practice with Waka-Sensei Kenta Shimizu and after that I was so brimming over with enthusiasm for tossing people so easily although most of them were much older and had more experience. I think it was then that I caught the ‘Aikido Fever’.

Until now I’m fascinated by the way you can let your partner run a half-marathon without yourself moving around so much. And that is one of the reasons I think of Aikido as a good martial art for women. You do not need to be brawny or weigh a lot so that you can beat someone and protect yourself. You just need the right amount of natural movements and knowledge of how to fall and a lot of self-confidence.

I have been doing Aikido for over 10 or 11 years now and in this amount of time I’ve really learned one thing: You are allowed to make mistakes and you can doubt yourself and fall down, but you should always believe in yourself and in what you are doing – in other words: Get up on your feet again and retry! It’s just like the philosophy you need to have as Uke.

And so now, here’s my answer to the questions from the beginning: I do not feel safer because I’m practicing Aikido, but because of doing Aikido I walk the streets with more self-confidence and if I have to react, I can.

That I have been practicing Aikido for such a long time now is just because it is fun and I’m pleased about the fact that you can do the same technique with so many different people, that you can thrill children and that they keep doing it. Maybe there is no real reason why I’m doing Aikido, maybe it’s like playing football or riding a horse, but it is relaxing, it’s switching off from everyday life and it connects so many people all over the world. There’s no more reason for liking and doing Aikido.


Melodie Wilmann from Friesenheim, DE, 1. DAN Tendoryu Aikido, 2007