Next Steps on our Aiki Path

Greetings to our Two Cranes Family and Friends,

We hope you are well and safe.  We would like to offer an update and a potential plan for continuing our Aikido training over the next three months as Washington moves through its phased approach to easing social restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
 
The dojo has always been a place where, with many treasured friends, we have swept and fallen and sweated and celebrated and ached and bowed and laughed and struggled and succeeded. It is a space dedicated to our shared growth. For the last 2 months we have all been been searching to adapt to a world where practicing Aikido with each other in the dojo is not appropriate. To be deprived of in-person training is an elemental loss. We feel it every day.
 
But this is also an opportunity. It is the kind of opportunity that may only arise when everything that appears to be true and immutable is suddenly and drastically disrupted. There is an opening to transform our practice as we find a way to respond to this new challenge. As with any attack, we can run away, freeze or move forward.
 
We can move forward if we are willing to scrutinize the traditions of Aikido in order to identify how they promote our development as human beings. We can move forward if we craft new approaches that do not rely on touch but retain as much of the essence of traditional training as possible. We can celebrate the power of our traditions by translating them into methods and settings that best fit the current reality. We will have succeeded if we are able to retain the transformative nature of our practice.
 
Throughout this time, we have been guided by the best medical and public health information available as well as State restrictions. Our next steps will be based on those as well. The phases of civic reopening and the accompanying precautions will determine how and where we practice.

Specifically, we will continue to train via Zoom classes through all Phases of the Washington Phased Approach
(WA State Phased Reopening Chart).
 
Phase 2, which could begin as early as June 1st, will allow us to train in outdoor spaces, with appropriate social distancing, in groups of up to 5 people. We are excited about gathering at Mapleleaf Park for some weapons practice while we also continue zoom classes for those that can't get to the park.
 
Phase 2 will also allow us to train at the dojo in small groups of no more than 5 people but this will require significant adaptations to our indoor practice. Social distancing (no touch training in marked off spaces!), wearing masks, frequent surface disinfection, contact tracing and procedures for self quarantine in the event of infection within our group will be the norm. We will continue training outdoors while we prepare for this kind of return to the dojo space.
 
Phase 3, which could begin as early as July, would enable us to train in outdoor spaces, with appropriate social distancing, in groups of up to 50 people. We will plan an all youth program training as well as an all adult program training at the park for sometime in July. Though Phase 3 allows for indoor gatherings at 50% or less capacity, the dojo space is not large enough to safely allow for this many people. However, with protocols in place, we will plan for small classes and continue to zoom those classes for people that are unable to be at the dojo.
 
Phase 4 would allow gatherings, with social distancing, of groups larger than 50 people. We envision an all dojo training at the park in August!

The poet Basho said “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of others. Seek what they sought.” In this spirit, we must examine the very nature of those footsteps so we can stay true to our direction. 
 
In spirit,
Kimberly Richardson
Dave Hurley
Greg Mock
Sara Gerhart Snell

Jen Stoakes Singh
Kimberly Richardson