Your Training Partner is Not Your Pretend Enemy

Recently, Jeramy Hale Sensei was teaching at the dojo. He brought up a point which I thought was so important that I decided to make a video about it. Jeramy Sensei was making the point that your aikido training partner is not your pretend enemy.

Here’s the video. I hope you enjoy. I look forward to seeing your comments.




Here’s the transcript to the video:

Hi, everyone. My name is Frank Bloksberg. I am Chief Instructor of Aikido’Ka, an aikido dojo in Grass Valley, California. My good friend Jeramy Hale taught at the dojo on a recent Friday evening, and said something so important and profound that I feel compelled to discuss it with you. Jeramy was talking about the relationship between the people training. Jeramy explained that even though your partner is playing the role of an attacker, that person is not your pretend enemy. Let me say this again because it’s so incredibly important. Even though your training partner is playing the role of attacker, that person is not your pretend enemy. I’ll explain why Jeramy’s point is so important.

Here’s a quote from an article about the self-defense value of a particular form of karate. “When we train, we’re as serious as we would be during a life-and-death struggle. Our mindset throughout each session is that we’re really defending ourselves. We’re conditioning our minds to see our attackers and to fight them with every move we make.” In other words, see the people you’re training with as your enemy and treat them that way. After years of this type of practice, how do you think you’ll respond to any type of a threat, whether physical or emotional?

Well, here’s what the article says about that:

“When students practice, we try to develop reaction. Ideally, when you’re attacked, you’ll react automatically. The further you go in your training, the more your techniques will become reactions. They’ll become second nature to you.”

I agree that it’s absolutely true that training should create fast, precise movement. If you have to think about how to respond to a physical attack, then chances are your response will be too late. But if year after year you practice a violent response to attacks, then that’s how you’ll respond to any perceived attack – without any thought and lightning quick. Indeed, that’s the point.

The self-defense aspects of Aikido are about resolving disputes, even potentially violent disputes, with no one getting hurt. With Aikido, we look to blend with our attacker. We use evasive movements to unravel the attack and place the attacker in an untenable position. We practice these movements until we can precisely perform them without thought and lightning quick. So if you do perceive an attack, you will not automatically respond with violence. And that’s the point.

Here’s another important point:

Aikido, as with every other real, modern martial art is not a combat system. Aikido is primarily about self-improvement and relationship building. While Aikido practice can build incredibly effective self-defense skills, it’s primarily an art. Practicing Aikido can make you a much happier, healthier member of an incredibly fun community. Practicing a true combat system will make you a better fighter and get you beat up a lot, likely nothing more. You get to choose which one of these you want from your life. You know which one I choose.

Here’s how I describe the roles that attacker and defender have in Aikido practice:

You bring the attack in such a way so that your training partner can do his or her technique perfectly. Likewise, you perform your defensive techniques so that the attacker can receive the technique perfectly. We’re people, so we don’t do anything perfectly. Nonetheless, that’s the goal. We practice to support each other’s improvement. We’re not pretending to be enemies. We’re partners in our practice, and working together for mutual self-improvement and to learn whatever the thing is that we’re working on.

Whenever human beings understand something, we automatically believe it. You don’t have a choice. The belief happens automatically. Once you understand something, you may be able to override the belief. But many beliefs continue even after the belief has been thoroughly debunked. The scientific literature is filled with studies about this. If we pretend to be each other’s enemies, then we actually are enemies at least for some time. We then have to somehow override that belief.

Consider for a moment what pretending to be enemies can bring up in your mind. Bringing an attack as an enemy involves trying to hurt your enemy. It brings up the desire to defeat, even humiliate one’s enemy. We destroy trust and community by doing so. In no way is this appropriate for Aikido practice.

Aikido exists to improve our lives and our relationships. Not surprisingly then, creating enemies has absolutely no place in the dojo – not even pretending and not even for a short time.

Now don’t get the wrong idea. Aikido is martially effective. Depending on your practice, it can be extremely effective. You can train as vigorously and powerfully as you want. You will get there with respect and by building trust with your training partners.

The dojo is a safe place for everyone who trains here. If you and I are training together, you have to feel safe. If you don’t feel safe, then I have work to do to get you there, and being your enemy sure isn’t going to accomplish that.

So thank you, Jeramy. If Aikido training sounds good to you, then please check us out at, and thank you so very much for your time.

Start your 30 days free aikido training by filling out the form below. I look forward to training with you!

Our New Friday Night Aikido Class — Jeramy and Molly Hale

Molly and Jeramy Hale

Molly and Jeramy Hale

You can now train at Aikido’Ka 7 days a week! I am delighted to announce our Friday evening aikido class.

Not too many months ago, Molly and Jeramy Hale moved to Nevada County and joined Aikido’Ka. Yea! In case you don’t already know this, Molly and Jeramy are long time students of Frank Doran Shihan. They both hold the rank of yondan (4th degree black belt). They are absolutely delightful people, terrific aikidoists, and wonderful teachers.


They’re now going to be trading off teaching class on Friday nights from 5:30 – 7:00 pm. For now, I think Jeramy is going to teach 2 Fridays in a row, then Molly will teach one, and then back to Jeramy. That will probably change. When/if that schedule changes, I’ll let you know.

Be sure to attend our new Friday night class!


Aiki Summer Retreat — Photo of All Instructors

At Aiki Summer Retreat, we had a fair number of instructors. Each day, we had our featured instructors, Senseis Michael Friedl, Kimberly Richardson, Danielle Smith and Craig Fife. We also had instructors for our 7 – 8 am classes — Senseis Forrest Kan, Johnny Newsome, Chuck Hauk, Calvin Koshiyama, and Darrel Berlie. These senior instructors taught and mentored along with Frank Bloksberg (me), Michele Simone, Mark Zwagerman, Erik Haag, Jeramy Hale, Molly Molly Sacco Hale, Sara G Snell, and Mark Kruger.

What a blast!



Training with Our Friends at Aikido & Healing Arts Center of Roseville

untitled-2866Here are a couple of group photos from Molly and Jeramy Hale’s seminar at Aikido & Healing Arts Center of Roseville. The seminar was May 17, 2015. We had a great time.




Click on the pictures below to see them full size.

[flickr_tags tags="Molly and Jeramy Hale Seminar in Roseville"]

Don't miss your opportunity to train with Molly and Jeramy at Aiki Summer Retreat, June 21-27, 2015! 
Click here for more information.

Training with Our Friends at Aikido & Healing Arts Center of Roseville

Here are a couple of group photos from Molly and Jeramy Hale’s seminar at Aikido & Healing Arts Center of Roseville. The seminar was May 17, 2015. We had a great time.

[flickr_tags tags="Molly and Jeramy Hale Seminar in Roseville"]

Don't miss your opportunity to train with Molly and Jeramy at Aiki Summer Retreat, June 21-27, 2015! Click here for more information.

Jeramy Hale’s Webinar is Ready for You

Jeramy Hale and I recorded this webinar on Thursday, May 23, 2013. We had a really good time talking about Jeramy’s aikido experiences and sharing stories. Jeramy has a very interesting take on aikido and why he loves the retreat. Jeramy is Molly Hale’s husband and is an amazing person in his own right.

Click here to listen to Jeramy Hale’s webinar.

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