Aikido means the way of coordinating or harmonizing mind and body, and is often referred to as "the art of peace" because it promotes non-violent conflict resolution. Aikido is a self-defense martial art which uses circular blending movements, joint-locks, strikes, throws, and pins. It is known for graceful, yet dynamic self-defense movements, the inner peace and self-discipline students develop, and their respect for life and diversity. It is not a competitive sport, students don't spar and there are no tournaments. Aikido is a life changing and life affirming art that teaches students how to be in harmony with themselves and the people they meet.
The goal of a Pathway to Harmony Aikido student is to work on enhancing his/her quality of life everyday, minimize chaos or stress in their daily life, and resolving every conflict in the most harmonious, peaceful way. In the Pathway to Harmony Aikido Program, students progress at their own pace working with each other to develop skills that will increase their awareness, mind and body coordination, balance, patience, and ability to stay focused in the midst of chaos.
While working to achieve their next belt rank, students have fun learning how to effectively neutralize and control an aggressive attack (psychological, verbal, or physical) without becoming the aggressor. As a result, students develop strong interpersonal skills that reflect their respect for themselves and others. Aikido techniques and principles are taught using a variety of methods which include lectures, group discussion, light to moderate group exercise or warm-up, demonstrations, individual and group practice. Emphasis is placed on teaching students how to relax and stay focused in their daily life, especially in school and the work place where they will benefit from their ability to exercise self control, and their ability to stay focused on tasks assigned.
Aikido techniques and principles are used as the basis of discussion for age appropriate topics related to:
- Stress Management,
- Non-violent Conflict Resolution,
- Handling Peer Pressure,
- Positive Mental Attitude,
- Developing Verbal and Non-verbal Communication Skills,
- Financial Planning,
- Goal Setting,
- Time Management,
- Commitment and Responsibility,
- Love, Respect, Honor, Trust,
- Building Healthy Relationships,
- Japanese Language, and many others.
The exercise portion of each class is designed to help students relax, loosen muscles, enhance coordination and balance, develop good posture, breathe, correctly and wake up the energy centers of the body. All exercise is done in moderation, with a majority of them being low impact. Aikido exercises are safe and should not prove to be a problem for most students.
- Non-Aggressive Self-Defense
- Increased Focus and Awareness
- Reduce/Manage Stress
- Builds Self-Discipline
- Develop Coordination
- Builds Self-Esteem
- Build Self-Confidence
- Develop A Positive Mental Attitude
- Build Interpersonal Skills
- Build Conflict Resolution Skills
The Pathway to Harmony Aikido Program has benefited youths and adults from numerous agencies and organizations, including the Dept. of Children and Family Services, Southwest Youth Collaborative, Olive-Harvey College's Continuing Education and Summer Learning Camp, National Youth Sports Program, Charles Hayes Family Investment Center's Teen Reach, Metropolitan Family Service, Inc., Methodist Youth Services, Inc., Chicago Public Schools, South Side Help Center, Mayor's Youth Net, Chicago. Park District, West Communities - YMCA, church groups, and the general public.
Sensei Leilyn “Rick” Butler developed the Pathway to Harmony Aikido Program. The genesis of the program flows from his mission to help people enhance their quality of life. His faith in God, over thirty years of study and training in the Japanese style martial art, aikido, over forty years of training in other martial arts, and over thirty years working in corporate America, are the foundation of the program.