the Impossible Dojo
Human dynamics laboratory for the study of self-defense and social change
A dojo -- a Japanese word meaning "place for studying the way or path" -- can be a school, like the Academy of the Impossible, or, as it is more often used in the West, a place for studying those arts which combine bodies of knowledge with physical skills: kinaesthetics. Traditionally, this has mainly consisted of the martial arts. The dojo form of the Academy will incorporate up to 430 sq. ft. of mats with spectator and multi-media presentation areas, suitable for martial arts training, improv theatre, dance, role-playing, CPR training, and other activities.
This program will create space for the study of those skills which:
- Are empowering, building confidence by providing skills and knowledge for dealing with life's most difficult circumstances;
- Are health-promoting, creating an environment for fun and the sharing of physical & mental activities that promote an active and healthy life;
- Are community-building, through supporting group study of human dynamics (e.g. using each other to learn and teach self-defensive systems, emergency medical skills, conflict resolution, and other such knowledge).
Initial projects will consist of the following:
Self-Defense Study: Aikido & other martial arts
Every Saturday 10:30am-12:30pm
Teaching the principles, techniques and philosophies of Yoshinkan-style Aikido (a peace-oriented martial art), along with a complementary mix of self-defense skills (e.g. defensive Brazilian JiuJitsu) and will include additional guest martial-arts workshops (e.g. Kung fu, Capoeira, etc..).
Classes will consist of warm-ups, calisthenics and strength-building exercises, followed by basic forms and movements, exploring simple techniques and building towards the study of a particular technique or group of techniques that will be given focused study. Movements and techniques are studied in a gentle and cooperative format, with care for our partners' safety being of the utmost priority.
The Academy of the Impossible facilities include 430 square feet of professional mixed-martial arts training mats. Classes are coordinated by Josh Hehner, a registered instructor with the International Yoshinkan Aikido Federation, with 16 years experience studying and teaching martial arts.
Participation in the dojo is free for members of the Academy of the Impossible as well as instructor-approved guest participants. Classes are open to members of the public, and all are welcome to join, though students with the means to do so are encouraged to give a pay-what-you-can donation if they enjoyed the class (suggested donation $5 per class).
Young people are welcome to join as well, though students under the age of 13 may find the focus and technical complexity of Aikido a challenge, and are encouraged to seek parental and instructor approval before taking part.
Participants have several ways of taking part:
a) Those who wish to study any of the physical forms of self-defense should come dressed in comfortable work-out clothing, or, if possible, a piece of martial-arts clothing called a "dogi". Warmup will typically take place for the first half-hour of a scheduled class, followed by basic forms and positions, breakfalling and finally focused study of a given technique or set of techniques.
b) Those who wish to learn about Aikido, who may want to see a class or two before participating on the mats, or perhaps who are interested in the ideas and philosophy in these martial systems but don't feel able to participate physically, are invited to attend as spectators. Classes will have a comfortable viewing area set up, and will include visual demonstrations, performances of techniques in both slow-motion/broken-down form, as well as in "real-world" scenarios. Instructors will also endeavour to incorporate multi-media supporting materials, and if there is interest, host special-topic forums, guest talks and movie nights to follow the Wednesday evening class.
c) The dojo is particularly interested in having members participate not just as students, but as educators themselves, by helping to spread this knowledge. This program, as it operates within the wider Academy of the Impossible, will endeavour to gather the knowledge created within it, and adopt an open-source methodology to its shaping and sharing. To this end, we invite participants to engage as documentarians, to use writing, drawing, photography, videography, webcrafting and other skills to assist in the production of an open-source textbook for use in the dojo and for sharing with like-minded clubs and individuals.
Interested participants should show up during class times, or can write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Forthcoming Program: Emergency Medicine and Street Medic Practice
This forthcoming program will host twice-weekly skills-sharing fora, with the Toronto Street Medics. Content will include CPR and First Aid classes, as well skills-sharing workshops (e.g. kit building, wound care, pepper-spray decontamination).