Students explore Aikido as non-violent martial art

By Megan Good

Savanah Hofstetter tucks her shoulder in and rolls across the floor of Ropp Pit. Two other students mirror her actions. Hofstetter recovers and backs up to try the roll again. The students are practicing Aikido in the Pit as part of the 3000:12 challenge.

The challenge, which began mid-January and ended mid-February, offered students the chance to do 3000 things such as pushups, sit ups or squats while trying to memorize Romans Chapter 12. Those who took up the challenge had a month to memorize the chapter and complete 3000 of something. Hofstetter and a few other students decided to practice 3000 minutes of Aikido, an oriental fighting style.Martial Arts 2 Megan

“Aikido is one of the most nonviolent martial art styles,” Hofstetter said. “It focuses on deescalating violence by using your body to dodge and redirect blows.”

The Aikido group is not an official club at Bluffton University and they never intended to be seen that way. The people involved came together to tackle a challenge. However, if someone were to start a club that focuses on the art, Hofstetter said she would join it.

The group decided to focus on doing Aikido because it would be easier for them to switch up their routine if they became tired. Other students who had settled on doing one task, such as pushups, would get sore from doing the same exercise each day. By choosing to do Aikido, the group was able to switch things up when they wanted to.

“We had a lot of YouTube senseis,” Hofstetter said. “I like to think we’re officially Youtube yellow belts.”

The group would look up videos on YouTube to help them practice. Hofstetter said they frequently had to look up terms on the internet as there were a lot of words they did not understand when they began. One night during their practice they had a certified instructor come and teach them in Ropp Pit.

“Aikido is very open and flowy with how you block,” Hofstetter said. “It made me more comfortable and more confident in my ability to get out of a bad situation.”

Although they had their YouTube teachers, Hofstetter said it was easier for them to learn the martial art by teaching other people.

“People would see us and ask what we were doing so we would invite them to join us,” she said. “We learned better by teaching other people.”

The month was long and hard, but the group managed to memorize Romans Chapter 12 and learned a thing or two about Aikido while they were at it. Hofstetter said the activity was a good community builder and she hopes to continue practicing the martial art once spring break ends.

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