NEW TIMES: When did Aikido of SLO start its establishment?
TESORO: My friend Tom Elliott helped me co-found the dojo in 1987, with the support and guidance of Aikido of Monterey’s Danielle Smith Sensei. As well as Monterey, Aikido of San Luis Obispo is a member of the California Aikido Association, headed by Frank Doran Shihan, the founder and chief instructor of Aikido West. It is this affiliation that connects ASLO with Aikido World Headquarters, and makes us a legitimate school of traditional Aikido.
NEW TIMES: What is the martial art of Aikido about?
TESORO: Aikido is a three-character word in Japanese. “Ai” means to meet or to come together, “ki” refers to the life-force or spirit, and “do” means the way or teaching of something. So, loosely translated, Aikido means “A way of harmonizing with the universal spirit.” On a physical level, Aikido uses the force of gravity, weight alignment, joint manipulations, pins, and throws to neutralize attacks. Underlying each physical technique, the goal is efficiency of movement. Efficiency of movement means to get the most power out of our bodies with the least expenditure of energy.
NEW TIMES: What can you expect from a session at your dojo?
TESORO: We provide the knowledge and etiquette of treating everyone with respect. When you enter the dojo, a brief greeting with a standing bow is expected along with entering the mat, where we practice our techniques, exiting the mat, and engaging a fellow student or teacher. Depending on your skill level, age, and what knowledge you possess previously in other martial arts, different classes will entail different sessions. It’s best to come by the dojo so that we can formally meet and become better acquainted on what would be best for you and your needs so we can better accommodate you. ∆