Aikido finds a home at Back to Wellness in Rutledge
By Lindsay Oberst
Picture yourself inside the movie. You know, the moment when time stands still and everything is under the main character's control. The moment when obstacles lose their power and anger is chilled into calmness.
This is the kind of feeling Aikido can give.
And, according to those around him, Jack Moon is an ideal gateway to this freedom.
He discovered the Japanese form in Conyers from a man named Michael Stabile while looking for a martial arts class for his son.
"In an Aikido class, I saw this petite woman throwing around grown men, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it," Moon said.
Now five years later, he has his own school in Rutledge, called a dojo -- a word that means "place of Tao" in Japanese.
Aikido is not like karate or other forms which focus on punching or kicking opponents.
Instead, an opponent's energy is redirected, rather than blocked, and competition does not exist.
"The competition is the real world," Moon said.
Around the world, thousands of people have found inner peace, physical health and the ability to defend oneself through Aikido.
"It's a way of harmony with energy," he said. "It can help you with everyday life."
In a first class, he briefly covers the history of Aikido and begins with a lesson about wrist techniques that leads to everyone taking another person to the ground.
The experience is dynamic and experienced differently by newcomers to the art and by those who have worked previously in a similar field.
Brett Creel has known Moon for awhile, but recently decided to take his classes.
"It's fun but at the same time, it's not playtime," he said. "It's a serious thing. You have to pay attention."
He describes Moon as focused and goal oriented, and he laughed while detailing the fun, new abilities he learned in his first few classes.
Sean Callahan, another student and the principal of Carver Middle School in Monroe, took American karate years ago and
"Aikido gives you a discipline," Callahan said. "It challenges you and you must figure it out. The parallel to life, that's the beauty of Aikido to me."
Before taking classes with Moon he tried out several other dojos.
"We spoke on the phone, and this was a major determination," he said. "The instructor is very important."
Jamie Sills is the only woman under Moon's direction.
She met him four years ago in Conyers and started taking classes under him when he opened his own school.
"I have an advantage as a woman, because Aikido relies on technique," she said. "It's more difficult for men because they want to use muscle."
Her daughter Cheyenne, 12, and her son Ethan, 6, also take classes.
Moon's dojo began in December of 2008 and is held in the Back to Wellness building.
Michael Hughes, the clinic's founder, wanted a martial arts class taught, and Moon presented the perfect opportunity.
Hughes' son now takes classes under Moon's direction.
The dojo has 12 students, eight adults and four children, with other people visiting his classes occasionally.
Classes are Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. for children and 7 p.m. for adults, and Saturday 9 a.m. for adults and 10 a.m. for children.
Under Stabile, Moon continues to work toward his shodan, the lowest black belt rank in Japanese martial arts.
He hopes his classes will double in numbers in the future.
"The folks that I've had come in and try it have liked it," he said. "Give it a try, you'll fall in love."
Printed in the April 30, 2009 Edition