Aikido Yoshinkai offers best instructors worldwide
By Adam Tatelman, Staff Writer
It seems there are two distinct interpretations of Aikido as a martial art in popular culture today. While one half of the population thinks of airy-fairy tuck-and-roll acrobatics on padded mats, the other half thinks of perennial “action cop” Steven Seagal wrist-twisting and and hip-throwing incompetently choreographed bad guys through plate-glass windows.
Strangely, there’s truth in both of these ideas: according to the modern masters, “real” Aikido should “look fake.” What the heck does that mean? Step into Aikido Yoshinkai in Burnaby and find out.
Yoshinkai is a modest establishment, but don’t let its sequestered facade fool you. Sensei Robert Mustard calls this dojo home. Why should you care? If you’ve ever wanted to learn from an internationally recognizedseventh Dan (rank) black belt who’s trained with the Tokyo Riot Police, then you should care immensely.
There are very few instructors in the Aikido community who’ve gained Mustard’s level of notoriety, and I personally believe that residents of Burnaby are incredibly fortunate to have him in the neighbourhood.
Unfortunately, Mustard isn’t always available―he travels a lot, since his tutelage is in high demand. However, his second-in-command, Farshad Ardestani, is usually available in Mustard’s place. Ardestani earned his black belt in two years flat, and he also teaches Iaido (a form of quick-draw swordsmanship) Thursdays at 6p.m.
Aikido was originally conceived as a method for disarmed samurai to defend against katana-wielding enemies by intercepting aggressive strikes and hauling the opponent off their centre of balance into a pin through circular movement. Each of the six basic forms can be broken down into similar lunge and pivot motions. They aren’t difficult to do―it’s the timing and positioning that makes these techniques difficult to apply in the moment. This is one of Aikido’s downsides; it takes a long time to become any good.
So why does “real” Aikido “look fake”? Because when it’s done well, it appears effortless. When you pin or lock an opponent, you are not inflicting pain on them. You are merely immobilizing them through leverage. Case in point, Rob―an old, out-of-shape aikidoka (one who practices Aikido)―was able to pin me down using a single finger. Yes, you read that right. I couldn’t reach to kick him, roll over, or get up through force. Why? He had all the leverage and he was in just the right place.
This kind of pseudo-superhuman stuff may seem ridiculous, but I will swear to its veracity. It can be done. Over time, you will find that practicing Aikido improves your sense of balance, as well as your ability to break a fall. Imperceptibly, Aikido cultivates physical change in the practitioner, useful in both combat and day-to-day life. And there’s no one better to guide you through these changes than Robert Mustard. Find him at 7671 Edmonds Street if you want some balance in your life.