What is Aikido?

Aikido loosely translates to ‘ai’ harmony, ‘ki’ spirit and ‘do’ the way. Harmony means to use an attacker’s force against them by blending with their body movement, manipulating their balance and direction. Spirit is strength of mind and heart, and is a place to draw power. The Way refers to doing - that our actions speak louder than words!

Aikido is often referred to as the ‘peaceful’ martial art, because it teaches techniques of self defence applied with minimal force, rather than resorting to aggression or brute strength. The ‘kamae’ stance in Aikido is the foundation of all technique; providing a strong base of support for all movement. Aikido not only teaches good body movement and coordination, but is great for general fitness and confidence. Students also learn ‘ukemi’, how to fall safely and then get back up again quickly.

Aibility students practising kamae

Aibility students practising kamae

We believe Aikido is about being adaptable and clever rather than just big and strong. Whatever your ability, Aikido focuses on what you CAN do, not what you can’t. This is the philosophy behind Aibility classes, that everyone has the ability to learn, no matter what challenges they face.

What can I expect from an Aibility class?

Aibility classes are run by Paul van Stratum, Sensei (3rd Dan, Aikido) at DCF Studios in Thornbury. The studios are managed by his wife Cassie Dart (2nd Dan, Aikido), who also sometimes participates in the classes. The studio offers 100 square metres of jiqsaw mat flooring, as well as changing room, toilets and kitchen facilities. Students participate in paired or group activities. Sometimes classes incorporate fitness equipment and practice weapons as well.

Class size is kept small to ensure students are given extra attention and guidance, generally ranging between 2 - 5 students. Friends, family and carers of students are also welcome to watch and participate in the class.

Sensei Paul teaching students wrist lock techniques

Sensei Paul teaching students wrist lock techniques

Paul van Stratum Sensei

Paul begun his training at Aikido Shudokan in 2011 under head instructor Joe Thambu, Shihan (8th Dan, Aikido). Paul was instantly taken with aikido and devoted himself to his training, earning his first black belt two years later. Since, Paul has been an active part of the aikido community, participating in seminars in Australia, Japan, England, Malaysia and Poland. Paul has been also awarded by Aikido Shudokan International for his participation in demonstrations and competitions. In 2018, he was awarded the title of 3rd Dan by Joe Thambu Shihan.

Inspired by both his passion for aikido and his work as a disability carer, Paul combined the two; creating a unique class open to people with disabilities. Encouraged by colleagues working in the disability and mental health sector, he set out to create a safe training environment that paid tribute to traditional martial arts, but was also flexible enough to benefit those needing something tailored to their ability. Paul taught private lessons for a number of years before formally opening Aibility classes at DCF Studios in 2016. Paul hopes to continue developing his aikido, as well as branch out to learn new styles of martial arts.

Through their training, Paul and his wife Cassie hold strong ties to Aikido Shudokan, and Aibility students are welcomed to participate in the dojo’s Annual Demonstration, typically held around March each year. Given that opportunity, Aibility students can showcase their skills to family, friends and the wider community, proving that anyone can benefit from learning aikido.

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Class Information and Times

Aibility class runs every Monday between 1:30pm - 3:30pm at DCF Studios, 721 High Street Thornbury (expect on public holidays)
Private classes outside these hours can be made by arrangement.

Your first class with us is FREE. Regular group classes are then $30 per each. Additional costs apply for private classes.
Membership is flexible. No contracts or monthly debits. Pay as you go.

Bookings essential. New students please contact Paul prior to discuss your particular needs.
Contact Paul on 0490015120 or aibilityclasses@gmail.com