It is Monday night in a large, mat-covered, mirrored room at the UM Wellness Center. Bodies are flying through the air in all directions to the rhythmic sound of Japanese commands.
What is this place? It is the Aikido club’s dojo.
“Aikido has changed my life,” said sensei Cat Fitzgerald. It teaches us to put our words and actions in harmony and can be used in real life 100% of the time. It creates a win-win situation to become a holistic person.
Fitzgerald graduated from UM with a B.A. in Anthropology and Dance. He has an impressive background in various martial arts such as Aikido, Shotokan, and Taekwondo, Judo, Kali, Silat, Wing Chun, Jeet Kun Do, and Muay Thai Kickboxing. He has even trained Olympic athletes, FBI members and various other organizations.
“Aikido is a martial art from Japan that teaches conflict reconciliation. It is more than just a set of techniques, it is a philosophy that helps a person developed holistically,” said assistant instructor Tim Keogh. He himself is a second degree black belt.
Training in Aikido involves both physical and mental aspects. Physical training covers both and conditioning and specific techniques. Throws are a big part of Aikido, so the first thing most students learn is how to fall and roll safely. Attacking techniques include strikes and grabs and defense techniques consist of throws and pins.
“It is about solving conflict in a non-violent way,” Nick Caron said. Caron is a freshman who is part of the Aikido club since last fall.
The Aikido club is celebrating their 25th year anniversary as a club sport in the University of Miami. Their lead instructor, Fitzgerald, has been part of the Aikido club from the very beginning.
The Aikido club has currently around 30 members. They are like big family who all share their love for this art form. The Aikido club was one of the three dojos in Florida and one out of the 20 dojos in the whole United States to be part of the international peace movement.
This year the Aikido club has many seminars and activities planned for UM students and the South Florida residents alike to celebrate their 25th anniversary.
Fitzgerald and the rest of the Aikido club meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:00 to 11:00 PM and Sundays from 5:00-6:40 PM and dues for $70 for a year. Newcomers are always welcome in the dojo and experience is not necessary.