I have been going to Still Mind for Tai Chi and Yoga instruction for more than a year.
The Tai Chi classes help with balance, coordination, and perseverance. Steve, who teaches Tai Chi, also has extensive experience in the martial arts. He adds additional insights to Tai Chi by relating the movements to their martial arts origins. The Tai Chi is further enhanced by occasional field trips to meet others studying the Master Yu Tai Chi tradition. Steve is a patient and dedicated instructor.
I also attend the Hatha Yoga classes at Still Minds conducted by Matt. These Yoga classes are physically invigorating and are certain to lift your spirits. Matt tunes each of his classes to match, with just the right amount of stretch, the capabilities of the students. Matt can provide insights into the philosophical background of the Yoga practice. He is also a licensed massage therapist. After just a few sessions he significantly increased the mobility and reduced pain in my neck and shoulders! Matt’s Yoga and massage sessions are always calming and professionally done - highly recommended!
Still Mind is a great place to be challenged and enlightened in a fun and welcoming environment.
What I found doing aikido and tai chi for over two years now was the perfect balance of working out the body and mind. I feel stronger, healthier, and more confident. Starting anything can be very intimidating, especially a martial art. I had never done a martial art before but I realized it's more than just a fitness class. This martial art teaches you situational awareness. It shows you no matter how long you practice you are still learning. It teaches you respect for other people because you learn to blend with them and eventually anticipate their next move or possibly learn their intentions. The cross training of tai chi and aikido has helped me strengthen my body and root myself to the ground. Although we do not compete, we test our balance, we push each other, we throw each other, we pin each other, etc. On top of all of that, I have aikido "family" all over the world. Stories and lessons learned passed on at Seminars that I will keep with me as I train. Best decision I have made in my life thus far!
I studied martial arts, primarily aikido and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, for over 8 years in California and then took a long break until I restarted 3.5 years ago when we moved to New York and looked for a dojo for our children to study aikido. We where initially attracted to Scarsdale Aikido because of the Sensei’s philosophy of aikido and life. We were also attracted here because of the number of children’s classes (5 days out of the week) as well as the number of adult classes which are offered every day and some days even 3-4 classes per day.
As time went on, my understanding of Sensei Steve Kanney and his understanding of life deepened. I am an osteopathic physician with a holistic traditional osteopath practice in which I have been practicing and deepening my understanding of osteopathy at many levels for almost 2 decades. In this realm, I treat patients at many different levels which may include at a boney level, muscle level, fascial level, fluid level, energetic level, spiritual level or more. Many times in our aikido practice, I have mentioned to Sensei, that he is talking and living osteopathy…of life. You see, it seems to understand aikido or osteopathy, we should be living life and understanding life's preciousness and value.
Another amazing instructor is Sensei Nathalis Wamba whom with his global experience, kindness and compassion have made this dojo and even greater prize. Other instructors such as Kim Gold or Masato Tani are also wonderful to work with and learn from. In fact, all the seniors students are great to work with primarily because there is no ego. I think each of us has learned that lesson from our teacher as we are part of the Iwama lineage up to the founder of Aikido.
Because of Steve Sensei’s reputation in the aikido community, we have top instructors visit our dojo over the years. Sensei Mark Larson comes once a year to teach us. Sensei Kim Peuser and Sensei Hoa Newens and others have come to share their wisdom. Sensei Alessandro Tittarelli came back repeatedly and spent months coming to our dojo before he passed. Many of our members have travels to Tahoe, Colorado, Minnesota, Virginia and even Canada to study with various top instructors who know our dojo including Sensei Hans Goto.
My two children have now studied aikido 3.5 years as well. Their growth has been tremendous in life and aikido. Their confidence has blossomed. Steve Sensei teaches them philosophy as well even though some of the students are as young as 4 or 6 years old. They hear it over and over and at some level it is getting into their persona. I also like that they cannot obtain a black belt as a child. They must put in their time and be able to test at a true black belt level when they are ready. This means that they will not become black belts until they are 16 years old or even older. I respect this strategy and feel it is a nice change of pace from the fast pace that most children, adolescents and even young adults live life.
We need to be aware of our surroundings and our environment in life, to slow down our pace. I feel Scarsdale Aikido has offered this to our family.
On every email the instructor sends to us there are those sentences that make reflect why I started Aikido. (If you want to know why you are where you are right now, look at what you have done in the past. If you want to know where you will be in the future, look at what you are doing right now.) Starting my 29th year in my law enforcement career I can say that it has helped me to deal with some of the stress associated with this type work. Dealing with the public and department brass is stressful. I have learned that Aikido is not only for self-defense in the physical environment but also offense when dealing with different co-workers, bosses, who sometimes create stress onto others. While I practice peace, I am training to deal with the chaos in a more controlled manner. I have also learned that I still have a lot training ahead of me to accomplish, to achieve budo. Peace within oneself is a profound place, but in between that you have take paths. I am hoping that I have started in the right one.
The benefits of training in Aikido go far beyond being able to defend yourself. It is an ideal martial art if you're looking for individual improvement and a sense of internal and external balance. One of the great aspects of Still Mind Aikido is the collaborative spirit, and the incredible support given while learning the techniques from Sensei and fellow students in the dojo. I’m in my eighth year of training, as is my son...and my daughter is going on her fifth year. We have all grown immeasurably from our practice of Aikido at Still Mind. I have made life long friends, here and abroad, have travelled the country training in other dojo’s and experiencing other teachers, and have learned more about myself and about how to manage the difficult situations of life. Aikido has practical applications in my regular work day, in raising my children, and even in being a volunteer firefighter. Its principles can be applied to all of life, aikido is not simply relegated to being a means of self defense. It is a true Budo. It has been an incredible journey thus far, and behind it all has been my Sensei, Steve Kanney and my family at Still Mind Aikido. I could only wish that everyone could have the experience I have had at the Still Mind dojo.
I started Aikido as a temporary diversion and stress reliever while in between jobs. Temporary has turned into four years. The diversion has now become something I do three, four, if possible five nights a week. Aikido, particularly Aikido as taught at this Scarsdale dojo, is addictive. If you want to learn a system of self defense that helps the student to be dynamic, strong yet compassionate, Aikido is worth checking out. It instills a sense of calm and confidence students bring to all areas of life. The practice of Aikido is not just about the physical moves- you learn to read the intent of other people. It shows you how to take negative, even violent situations and redirect things in a positive way. I've found many of these principles work just as well in the corporate world and within personal relationships. The teaching style and classroom attitude are very important to me. I was severely asthmatic as a kid which rendered practically all sports and physical activity dangerous. Though my asthma is largely under control those old memories of being carried from a field or collapsing in a gym corner never fully fade. Couple that with hearing loss and you have an adult very wary about joining in any type of exercise. At Scarsdale Aikido, I found compassionate instruction that brought me through those initial rough spots. Chief Instructor Steve Kanney was very attuned to my personal obstacles as well as my goals. The wonderful thing about Aikido is that it is non-competitive, you are seeking mastery of yourself, not another person. This philosophy, the instruction, and comraderie of both advanced and mid-level students, proved to be a key element in me finally doing and staying with something physically demanding for the first time in my life. Dues are reasonable. Every summer Scarsdale Aikido practices with tradition weapons (wooden sword and staff) at local parks. Hours are good and you can squeeze in practice even with a busy schedule. Oh - one more thing. The first six months - ten pounds melted off -- and have stayed off for four years. Aikido is a fantastic exercise for calorie burning.
Great place for kids to learn Aikido – This dojo is the best Westchester center for Aikido for both kids and adults. My son started practicing there when he was 8, which was 2 years ago. We were looking for a martial arts program that is more about avoiding conflict than overpowering your opponent, as well as the program that would help him have more focus mentally and more control of his body. The sensei at this dojo was very sensitive to our needs from the very beginning. He is able to establish rapport with the kids and teach them without being strict or overpowering or condescending. My son loves the program and now my daughter who is 6 also started to come to the class. We usually go twice a week.
My 7 yr old son has taken classes here for two years, so I have a good idea of what they do here (haven't just watched one class). After observing two other martial arts schools and getting pressured into contracts before taking one class, we came here. I liked the aikido philosophy of non-violence, and using your opponent's energy against himself that I read about on the website, but I wanted to watch a class to see how it got put into practice.
I appreciated the class right away because as an educator I could see the sensei clearly had an understanding of children and their development. (Trying to fit youngsters into an adult model of "discipline" is just counderproductive, BTW! If you don't have developmentally appropriate learning you don't have anything.). My son on the other hand just felt relaxed and comfortable right away, and wanted to jump into the class. Two years later the class still stimulates and challenges him in a relaxed and supportive environment.
There is exercise before and after the class to warm up and focus energy. Fun games are used to train the children to be alert in all directions, to stop suddenly, to lower their center of gravity for stability, to develop strength and fitness, to cultivate spatial orientation, and so on, before and after class. The classes are small and the teacher and assistants work one-on-one with children to teach them the "moves." A lot of verbal direction is lost on under 8's, and the teacher's recognize this and teach more by example to the younger ones. However I've seen the teachers work well with children of all ages and levels, and are super encouraging, but not in a fake way. Children learn best when they are engaged and having fun. The focus is really on improvement and each child doing their best, not on achieving stripes or belts or certificates.
I have occasionally seen one or two fried older kids come into class at the end of the day and act out a little, but I've always been impressed with the Sensei's handling of the situation and the problem was soon resolved.
I highly recommend this dojo if you want high-quality, developmentally appropriate martial arts training for your child.
Benefits for Daily Life
Human beings are social animals by nature. We have relationships with friends, family, workplace, etc. When we have relationships with others, we invariably run into conflicts...usually more often than we would like.
If you think about martial arts training, it is not about dealing with someone who enjoys the feeling of their fist pounding another's body. No one enjoys that. It is about dealing with conflicts, and resolving them peacefully.
In martial arts, you learn to be peaceful in the midst of strife, and communicate that peace to an attacker. The attacker then finds their own balance and their peace is restored. Applied to daily life, your relationships with everyone can be improved.
Traditional martial arts teach relaxation and peace in the midst of violence. Self defense classes or MMA that only focus on technique may not provide this benefit.