UVM Aikido Club considers the future

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There is currently only one member of the UVM Aikido club – the president.

Senior Patrick Markley, president of the UVM Aikido club, came to UVM as a transfer student in the fall of 2012, he said.

He came from a background of competitive martial arts, but when he heard about the Aikido club, he decided he really wanted to get involved, he said.

“Except for maybe boxing and MMA, peace is the ultimate resolution for all forms of martial arts,” Markley said.

Aikido is a non-competitive form of martial arts, Markley said. There are no competitions, but there are seminars.

Using samurai battlefield techniques, Morihei Ueshiba developed Aikido in the 1920s, according to the Aikido of Champlain Valley website.

“There is no punching or kicking; the movements are very circular and it’s all about blending with your partner’s energy,” Markley said.

Markley found this to be a beautiful philosophy. George Rutherford, faculty advisor for the UVM Aikido club, agrees that it’s a unique type of martial arts.

“In Aikido, it’s just as important to protect your partner as it is to protect yourself,” Rutherford said.

There are several factors for why the club is down to only one member, Rutherford said.

“We had a lot of great kids who were really involved in it, but they all graduated,” he  said.

One of these factors is also a lack of recruitment over the last few years, he said.

“Whether it’s a club sport or varsity sport, you have to constantly be recruiting,” Rutherford said.

Another factor is the off-campus location, he said.

The Aikido club has practices once a week for an hour and 15 minutes at Aikido of Champlain Valley, which is on Pine Street downtown, Rutherford said.

“We had about 30 to 40 kids sign up at activities fair, but by the time the first email went out and people realized where we’d be practicing, only about two kids showed up,” he said.

Rutherford said he has been having conversations with Leon Lifschutz, the UVM club sports coordinator, in order to figure out the future of the club.

He’s also been having conversations with Benjamin Pincus, the sensei instructor at Aikido of Champlain Valley, where the club practices are held, Rutherford said.

“Next fall will be a make or break semester for us,” Rutherford said.

Markley agrees that the future of Aikido club is still up in the air. Markley is looking for new leadership for the club.

“We need someone who is willing to take the time and effort to handle the club,” Markley said. “The future of it is conditional on that, or else it will probably fizzle out.”

To someone who might be considering joining Aikido, Markley urges them to do their research and make sure they are willing to put the time into it.

“Aikido greatly benefits the spiritual health,” Markley said.  “It’s all about the day-to-day development of yourself.”