Steamboat Aikido class focuses on harmony and balance |

Steamboat Aikido class focuses on harmony and balance

Aikido instructor Rick Silverman
Matt Stensland

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Silverman teaches Aikido classes from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at Colorado Mountain College.

A new semester begins in mid-January, but Silverman said anyone interested can drop in to watch or participate during the current semester.

The one-credit class is open to the community at a cost of $57 for the semester.

For more information, email Silverman at rsilverman12@yaho...

— When traveling through New Guinea and countries in Southeast Asia as a young man, Rick Silverman felt he needed a way to protect himself if ever caught in a dangerous situation.

“I was traveling alone, and it was really dangerous to have a gun,” said Silverman, whose solution was to learn Filipino stick and knife martial arts.

A Nebraska native who enjoys traveling, Silverman then moved to Singapore as a school teacher in 1987, and soon realized he was without a community to practice his stick and knife arts with.

A 5-foot-6-inch man once again living in an unfamiliar place, Silverman discovered Aikido, another martial art that could offer some confidence and protection.

“Aikido is a modern Japanese art. You blend with your opponent, and you use your opponent’s force or strength to take them down,” said Silverman, who retired last year after 27 years of teaching English in Singapore and moved to Steamboat Springs permanently.

Aikido blends martial studies with philosophy, and allows practitioners to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from serious injury.

Techniques are non-violent and focus on entering and turning movements that redirect or end the momentum of an attacker, not forceful blocking, punching or kicking.

Silverman said the art emphasizes harmony with a person’s attacker, harmony with your environment and harmony in other areas of a person’s life, such as what they eat.

Balance learned through Aikido is not only physical, but a balance of emotions and mind, he said.

“Aikido, you use it every day. I blend and harmonize,” Silverman said.

Wanting to once again practice with a group and teach Aikido to others, Silverman organized an Aikido class at Colorado Mountain College last spring. He said he’s heard of other Aikido programs in town that have come and gone, but his class is the only one available currently.

He meets with students in an exercise space at CMC from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, a time slot he hopes to offer again during spring semester, which begins in January if enough interest is shown.

In the meantime, Silverman encourages anyone who might be interested to drop in to watch or participate during a session of the current class.

Silverman said while his class is for adults, he’s interested in teaching to younger students again, which he did through a high school club in Singapore.

He said Aikido is suitable for all ages and offers a full-body workout.

“You’re working both sides of your body, and you’re constantly going down and then coming back up,” Silverman said.

Classes teach balance, rolling and learning how to fall, and instruction typically focuses on the physical techniques before progressing into the mental and spiritual aspects.

Silverman said Aikido is a good complimentary practice that will help strengthen an athlete’s performance in another sport, the way it did for his sons when they unknowingly used Aikido during rugby.

“They had learned how to take someone’s balance,” he said.

Like with most martial arts, Silverman said those who practice Aikido gain the ability to defend themselves against an attacker, but as time goes on, they find fewer situations where it’s necessary to use what they’ve learned.

“The longer you train in martial arts, the less you want to use it,” Silverman said. “There’s every good reason to learn how to fight, but there’s no good reason to fight.”

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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