Progressive and positive martial art for everyone

| 04 Feb 2014 | 05:32

Aikido is a martial art that teaches dedication, perseverance, respect and hard work. Studies have shown that children leave Aikido classes more focused and determined when they arrived — tools which will ultimately help them succeed both in and out of the classroom.

Aikido isn't about competition, trophies, loud uniforms, logos or patches. It's about keeping to the martial art's traditional roots.

One year anniversary
The Sparta Aikido dojo (school),located at 38 Station Rd., Sparta at the Sparta P.A.L. Center offers classes for the entire family, including law enforcement professionals. The dojo opened last January at its new location in Sparta and is now celebrating its one year anniversary at this location.

There are seven locations throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"We were in Newton for many years before landlords changed hands," said Greg O'Connor, Chief Instructor, Founder and author — talking about the Sussex County location.

The dojo was then invited by the Sparta PAL building to move its home to the fitness complex in Station Park in Sparta.

Self defense is one of the big reasons parents introduce their children to martial arts. In Aikido, effective self defense techniques are taught starting with skills aimed towards avoiding an altercation all together.

"Aikido teaches avoidance and evasion as well as how to neutralize which make it very different from many other forms of training," O'Connor said.

Aikido is characterized by spinning and flowing spiral moments and dynamic interaction. A skilled practitioner is always on the edge of the power of an attack, joining seamlessly with it and then leading it, never fighting or resisting.

"The attacker is always right meaning you don't resist or fight. You fully accept what is happening so you can join and neutralize it," O'Connor said.

In contrast to most other martial arts schools, Aikido Centers of New Jersey and Pennsylvania isn't about contracts and Aikido itself isn't about competitions and trophies.

"A lot of [martial arts] places stay open because they get people wrapped into a contract. We want people to stay because they get quality and their children enjoy what we are teaching," O'Connor said.

Most of the people who come to Aikido have already tried other forms of martial arts.

"Karate, Mixed Martial Arts and Jujitsu are all competition based so you're training against one other person because you will be in competition," O'Connor said. "When you have that competition base, there are rules. People aren't going to bite or pull a knife out. Aikido prepares you for real world defense and teaches how to resolve conflict."

For everyone
Aikido is available for the entire family as students range from the very young all the way up to people in their 70s and 80s. Students also include those in law enforcement, and O'Connor has taught everyone from patrol officers to corrections officers to diplomatic security and secret service officials.

"Aikido is a tool they can use to handle someone quickly and efficiently," he said.

Children's classes are for ages 6 to 12.

"They all work together which helps with their socialization. The kids learn how to interact and work things out. The older ones mentor the younger ones and the younger ones learn from the older ones," O'Connor said.

Once the children get to age 13 they have the option of going into an adult class.

During classes, students take turns being the attacker and the defender. They learn how to redirect it into a throw or a pin.

"We also teach how to deal with an attack if it's a life-threatening situation, and how to, say, instead of breaking an elbow, you can bend it in a particular way and gain control of the situation," O'Connor said.

O'Connor is the chief instructor, and staff instructors include Ton Vu, Vivian Rioux, Ginny Fanning, Richard Turi and Jason Nisler. Turi is the head of the children's program with Rioux and Vu also instructing.

More information
The Sparta dojo of Aikido of New Jersey is located at 38 Station Road in the Station Road Park Fitness Complex. For further information and to join a class visit or call 973-726-4500. There is also a video demonstrating Aikido at the web site.