MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Warriors train in a small room honing their skills with swords learning to defeat their opponents.
The warriors are real but the swords are not. This is the Dragonfly dojo here, which offers free martial arts classes to service members, family members, and Department of Defense employees to help them expand their martial arts wisdom.
The dojo, or training hall, offers two classes to service members. The first is Iai-jutsu, which is the art of drawing and cutting with a Japanese sword.
“It’s like the Wild West with two gun slingers, and basically, Iai-jutsu is quick draw for the sword,” said Sgt. Izaya Dunn, the current instructor at the dojo who teaches classes while the head instructor Maj. Roger Meade is deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The second class is aikido, which teaches people to redirect a person’s attack to neutralize it in the form of joint locks, throws, pins and strikes.
“Aikido is more physical, mental and spiritual,” Dunn said. “You hear that a lot with other martial arts, but they are combined in aikido.”
Aikido is very difficult to learn, according to Dunn. People can get frustrated with aikido because there is a lot of repetition and it feels like they are doing the same thing over and over again even though they are improving. It takes a lot of patience to learn.
Both styles compliment each other, according to Dunn. There are techniques in both which are very similar to each other, and some aikido techniques can be explained better if it is shown using a sword.
Each class starts by paying respect to the founder of the style of martial art and respect to the instructor. The class than runs through different kata, which are traditional training drills, and they also learn the importance of each movement.
“I used to take aikido when I was younger, and when I found out about the dojo, it peeked by childhood curiosity. I have always wanted to learn the Japanese sword,” said Lance Cpl. Michael G. Ihsan, a field artillery man with 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.
The classes are held Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and joining the class is easy. There is no set class curriculum, and people can participate in physical fitness clothing. All equipment is provided by the dojo for use by students. The only fee required by the dojo is if a person decides to test for a higher rank. For more information, visit http://www.lejeuneaikido.com/