Athens Ki-Aikido

Local instructor Stan Haehl sensei with official photo of style founder Koichi Tohei sensei and a “Ki” character he brushed.

A unique Athens organization is having an anniversary in November, and we’d like to invite everyone to come and see – or better – experience what we offer.

Athens Ki-Aikido is celebrating two anniversaries: it is the 14th anniversary of offering Ki-Development and Ki-Aikido classes in Athens; for 4 years we offered classes through the City Parks and Recreation program in the Community Center. Then we organized and relocated: this month is our 10th anniversary as a non-profit corporation, in its own dedicated space (dojo) in the ACEnet campus at 94 Columbus Road.

Throughout that time, a dedicated core group has been the heart of the dojo, engaged in disciplined practice of the skills and principles; some members have come for a few months or years, and then moved on to other life interests; a small group has remained constant. Over the years many people (literally hundreds) have experienced Ki and Aikido practice with the Athens Ki-Aikido dojo, in classes, special workshops, or just by visiting the dojo for an introductory experience.

The COVID crisis has been a tough time, reducing us to that core membership, but we have persisted, and our practice continues. We do follow COVID/flu safety protocols in our dojo. Interested folks are welcome to come by, try it out, and join our community – a dojo is a community as well as a place.

Athens Ki-Aikido isn’t merely the only Aikido dojo (of any of the several styles) in about a 45-mile radius of Athens, but is the only dojo of the Ki Society/Ki-Aikido style in Ohio. We are the only Recognized Ki Society Branch dojo between Chicago and Philadelphia, from Ontario to South Carolina. No other group offers the combination of skills, traditions, and Mind/Body principles that Athens Ki-Aikido embodies.

What is Aikido? Aikido is a modern Defense Skill system evolved from traditional Japanese Martial Arts; using techniques found in Arts such as Judo, Jujutsu, and Ken-jujutsu, Aikido teaches practitioners both effective ways to defend themselves if physically attacked, and also skills of remaining calm and coordinated in all sorts of crisis and conditions which one might encounter in daily life. Unlike other, better known Martial Arts, Aikido is entirely defensive, non-aggressive, and even protective of the person who might have attacked us. Additionally, Aikido is non-competitive, with no sport or competition aspect – there are no tournaments or sparing.

Ki-Aikido – more formally known as Shinshin Toitsu Aikido – is a particular school or style of Aikido in which the Aikido practice is built on a unique foundation of Mind/Body Coordination called Ki Development (Shinshin Toitsu Do in Japanese; literally “Mind Body Oneness”). Ki is usually translated as energy, but really involves learning to act with Unified Mind & Body — calm, confident, centered, and coordinated in all situations. This part of the practice is a kind of dynamic Yoga with elements of meditation, breathing, and energy awareness. It is related to – but distinct from – the popular Chinese-based practice of Qigong.

Ki-Aikido Students practice together in a fun, cooperative, dynamic, sometimes vigorous, system under the close supervision of highly experienced instructors.

Athens Ki-Aikido’s Head Instructor, Stan Haehl, has been a student of Ki-Aikido since 1979, and now holds the ranks of Joden (Upper-level transmission) in Ki Development and Rokudan (6th Degree — often called “Black Belt rank”) in Aikido, as awarded by Shinshin Toitsu Aikido Kai, (the formal name of the organization commonly called Ki Society). He also has an MFA in Theatre and taught at OU for three years. He also taught Theatre classes at five other Universities.

Shinshin Toitsu Aikido Kai is an international organization, headquartered in Japan, with autonomous branches in 24 countries, and more than 50,000 individual practitioners, world-wide. Athens Ki-Aikido has recently (2019) become an official Recognized Dojo. Athens Ki-Aikido has been affiliated with Shinshin Toitsu Aikido Kai through a national Federation since we started, but this is a recognition as an independent, local “Branch”.

Local instructor Stan Haehl sensei with Ohio University CHAARG (Ohio U Changing Health Attitudes and Actions Recreate Girls) Club.

The practice of Ki-Aikido, internationally and in the Athens dojo, is open to all people regardless of language, culture, ethnicity, religious affiliation, sexual or gender identity, and even physical shape. Ki-Aikido can be safely practiced by most people of all ages, genders, conditions, who can move somewhat freely. If you can walk, we can teach you to move better, more efficiently. If you can fall down, we can teach you how to do that more safely. Our moto in Athens Ki-Aikido is “Everyone is welcome who is OK with everyone else being welcome.”

Athens Ki-Aikido is a 501(c)(3) IRS recognized not-for-profit, volunteer-staffed organization. Interested people can visit or try it out free. Beginning students pay $50 a month in tuition. When students are ready to become supporting Members of the dojo, and want to test for rank in the International Organization, the Dues are $150 a month.

Classes are offered four days a week, Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Interested persons are welcome to stop by any class to watch, or try it out. At this time, classes are open to adults and teens (13-18 with parental permission).


Community Update by Athens Ki-Aikido’s Head Instructor, Stan Haehl