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Students find harmony and balance in NSU aiki-jitsu class

Published 12/7/17

Valeriia Efimenko

TNE Writer

Aiki-jitsu is a system of martial arts. Dr. Carl Farinelli, aiki-jitsu instructor, has been developing this system since 1971. In the 1970s, he began investigating different martial arts and exercise approaches. Over the years, he has researched yoga, various military martial arts, stick fighting, Kendo, Jeet Kune Do and internal energy studies to develop the present American Individualized Ki Instruction system as an art of peace and harmony.

The Japanese term "ki" is similar to the Chinese term "chi," which has many meanings in English including "energy" or "spirit." By seeking peace and harmony within one's own spirit, and obtaining the energy tools needed, people can protect themselves and others from negative unbalanced energies.

“I began participating in martial arts when I was a sophomore at Sam Houston State University in January 1971,” said Carl Farinelli. “I was interested in self-defense and in Japanese, Chinese and Korean cultures. Even though my first university club trained us to compete at tournaments, I was always drawn to the service leadership and peacemaker aspect of martial arts. This was what I hoped to teach to my students and explorer scouts in the inner city during my Houston years. I found that I could teach self-discipline, service learning and anti-bullying through the martial arts. We call our art “The Non-Martial Art” and “The Art of Not Fighting,” since we only practice our fighting techniques as a last resort in defending ourselves and those who are being bullied or attacked.”

Ai refers to balance or harmony. Ki is energy or spirit. A jitsu or jutsu are two transliterations of the same word which means art.

“In aiki-jitsu, we begin with finding balance and harmony within ourselves,” said Farinelli. “Then, we learn to protect ourselves and others from bullies or attackers. At first, I developed a six-step approach, which I published in 1982. Later, I simplified this to our present four-step self-defense approach, which is  avoid fights, escape from an attacker if you can and try communicating. If the above steps do not work, then use the fastest, most efficient counterattack that you know.”

In the NSU aiki-jitsu class, each student works under the guidance of Carl Farinelli and his assistant instructors to develop an individualized martial arts plan based on the student’s own individual gifts and limitations, such as previous training, age, personality, learning styles, physical ability and mental attitude.

“I assisted in teaching when I earned my brown belt at the age of 16,” said Matthew Farinelli, NSU aiki-jitsu assistant instructor. “My main instructor was my father, Carl Farinelli. I became passionate about the martial arts when I was given my first sword. It was an aluminum blade practice wakizashi. It was a gift for my eighth birthday. Then, I earned my black belt at 18 and began taking a greater role in instruction, mostly beginners in the class and private lessons. All the classes at the time were in the north gym at NSU through Continuing Education.”

Aiki-jitsu is a multibenefit class for people. The learners get to choose what they want to learn or enhance in their self, whether it is a learning basic to advance stretching techniques through katas, striking and kicking techniques or blocking and countering techniques. 

“There is something for everyone with safety being the top priority,” said George Ritzhaupt, NSU aiki-jitsu assistant instructor and Briggs Public Schools principal. “Dr. Farinelli's classes teach one how not to fight, as well as how to fight if one is put into that situation.  One can develop self-esteem, a positive attitude and confidence in being able to protect yourself, thus developing courage.”

Parents and grandparents are encouraged to take this art with their children to teach anti-bullying strategies.

 “This semester, the NSU Continuing Education aiki-jitsu class had a grandmother taking it with her granddaughter and a grandfather taking with his grandson,” said Carl Farinelli. “Two weeks ago, the grandfather, George Ritzhaupt, received his second degree black belt in aiki-jitsu.”

After, Carl Farinelli presented Ritzhaupt with his rank certificate in front of the NSU Continuing Education aiki-jitsu class at the NSU north gym. He then turned the class over to Ritzhaupt so that he could present his grandson, Keagan Heath Hammons, with his green belt rank certificate in aiki-jitsu. Ritzhaupt also presented one of the teaching assistants from his school, Roberta Studie-Maize, with her brown belt, four stripe.

Carl Farinelli offers special prices for families, senior citizens and veterans.

For more information about classes, time, location and prices, call NSU Continuing Education at 918-444-4610 or Carl Farinelli at 918-444-3763.

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