Tanren Juku Aikido Club of Calgary
Tanren Juku Aikido Club of Calgary, founded in 2000, is a nonprofit organization affiliated to the CAF (Canadian Aikido Federation) under technical direction from Yukio Kawahara Shihan (8th dan). The name Tanren Juku translates as "Spirit Forging Academy"
Tanren: "Spirit Forging"
The kanji for Spirit Forging has similarities with the kanji that is used in relation to sword forging. The Japanese sword has a long history in the martial arts and the process of forging a sword is an art of its own.
A sword starts as a block of metal which is hard to visualize as becoming a sword. The initial process of making the sword consists of hammering the block of metal into a shape that loosely resembles the finished weapon. This rough shape may resemble the sword but it lacks the strength and integrity to be a durable weapon. This is the initial process that a new Aikido student goes through. At the beginning, practice time is spent learning basic stances, body movements and ukemi skills. The student starts to feel confident and is able to perform basic techniques.
As with the art of making a sword, the making of a strong aikido student comes from the next stage. This is the stage in sword-making where the metal is forged over and over and over, sometimes thousands of times, to strengthen the inner molecules of the metal. To the uneducated, the sword may look finished after it is forged a few times, but the knowledgeable person knows it is only finished in appearance. This is a very hard stage of aikido practice. The basic look and feel of the techniques does not change much but the inner power and strength improve if the student keeps their focus and determination to make their techniques better. This stage of practice can take a student well into the yudansha ranks.
The last part of the process of making a sword is when it is polished. The sword has been formed and the metal is strong. The polishing process gives the blade its superior sharpness over other lesser blades. Sometimes, after a sword has been in use for awhile, it has to be polished again. For the Aikido student, this is the part of the student’s career when the techniques are very strong and powerful but they continue to practice to make them even subtly smoother and more refined. A student who strives for mastery in aikido or any other endeavor never stops practicing and learning.
The word 'juku' was chosen over 'dojo' because academy implies a place where students learn more than martial arts. Students in the children’s class, for example, have the opportunity to become involved in the Character Development Program wherein they develop from participants in the Home, School, and Community to leaders who develop programs for others to participate in.
Becoming partners in the community in activities such as graffiti removal helps students take their training beyond techniques.