Aikido Might Look Zen But It’s Hardcore AF

Gigi Hadid swears by kickboxing and so do your other favorite Victoria’s Secret models. While kickboxing can be fun, doesn’t it get a little boring when you try to keep up with a routine after being KO’d every single day?

As someone who has taken martial arts classes in high school, I honestly never got that serious about it until I moved to NYC. Like any other Singapore parent, my mom freaked out by catching up with the weirdest news stories that involved loonies going out and about in the city. Knowing that it’s so important to keep up with my surroundings, she told me to try aikido.

Founded by Morihei Ueshiba, this Japanese style of martial arts doesn’t swear by pure aggression. Instead, it focuses on the energy of opponent. In that sense, the entire objective is to throw him off-balance while preserving the peace.

In the city, there are so many aikido schools, but the one I decided to try out is at the local dojo (training place) in my ‘hood. Set in an apartment-like space, mats filled out the entire floor just like your yoga class at Equinox. Instead of being dressed in your favorite Lululemons, everyone is dressed in a white sushi chef-esque uniform. Not a single face had Huda Kattan contouring or painted-on lips (except for myself). (NOTE: you will be told to remove your makeup, which happened to me!)

Like a temple, the dojo had a portrait of the master hung on the wall. As an expression of courtesy to the master, the instructor bows down. Then, everyone — myself included — bows in front of the portrait. Before we learn a move, two senior students (one of them being the main instructor) demonstrate how to fall. Once it was time for us to learn the moves, I felt so awkward as I was falling back like Humpty Dumpty. But, it wasn’t the only move that I mastered to fail.

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The most difficult move in aikido is to get your opponent to fall down and roll on his side. In order to achieve that, I have to twist my abs and move my feet to change positions. Frankly, this was harder than kickboxing as I had to remain steady on my feet without falling down so easily. Learning moves like these was completely new for me as I was so used to the fast-paced Body by Simone workouts I watched on YouTube.

All in all, aikido doesn’t involve a lot of cardio, but it enhances my self-defense instincts. If you are used to the fast-paced classes, this is not a class for you. But if you are in need of some zen like myself, it never hurts to try it.

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