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Achieving Inner Harmony at Evolve Aikido and Movement Center

By Marina I. Jokic

Aikido is often translated as "the way of harmonious spirit." It's a martial art that practitioners could use not only to defend themselves, but also to avoid seriously hurting their opponent. Evolve Aikido and Movement Center in Antioch, California provides a unique experience for both adults and young kids, and seeks to cultivate courage and kindness through its teaching.

CEO Brandy Lucky says that the inspiration for opening Evolve Aikido was her fascination with the martial art itself and the myriad spiritual and physical benefits it offered. "This area is blessed with many types of martial arts training, but Aikido provides a unique experience for adults who don't want to have to fight, but want to be able to defend themselves," says Lucky. Likewise, for kids, achieving success in Aikido doesn't depend on size or strength or how hard one hits.

"My personal vision for Evolve is that it be a place to actively cultivate courage, love and kindness in our community, through all types of movement arts," states Lucky. To that end, Aikido encourages self-reflection, and respects the safety and wellbeing of the practitioner and his or her opponent.

At the same time, Aikido training is very hands-on and inspires people to learn by trial and error. "Aikido, while simple, takes a while to master, so it keeps students intrigued and engaged for the long haul," adds Lucky. One of the things Evolve Aikido stresses is focus and the ability to to leave the outside world "outside" once you are on the mat. This cultivates beginner's mind, awareness, and presence.

Aikido isn't founded on a set of scripted movements, but instead teaches students how to respond in different and dangerous situations. As Lucky remarks, movement is life and inspired movement is life-changing. Aikido movements can indeed save your life in addition to making you stronger and nimble.

"We all know we should exercise and treat our bodies well, but the dissonance between what we should do and what we actually do is sometimes vast," says Lucky. With our busy schedules, it's difficult to find time to exercise regularly. But with Aikido, your exercise will not feel like a routine, Lucky points out.

Aikido is simple to learn, but harder to master. For instance, Lucky has been doing the same techniques for decades, and yet she is still learning new things during her practice. "What I love is that I have new 'ah-ha' moments almost every time I'm on the mat training," she says. Practicing and teaching Aikido is truly humbling.

Lucky believes the most significant benefit of Aikido is training ourselves to recognize and come to terms with our "inner beast," the shadow part of our psyche. "Once we integrate our beast, then we can truly become a force for good in the world," she stresses.

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