Black Belt Q&A with Azzia Walker Sensei

Azzia Walker Sensei is Dojo Manager at the Aiki Arts Center, and teaches our Friday evening classes.

This Q&A with Azzia Sensei is part of a series of interviews with the Aiki Arts Center yudansha (black belts).

How did you get started with aikido?

It was the summer of 2004 and I met Nick Sensei in community college. My life was a mess, though I was starting to move towards more positive habits. When she said, “I teach aikido at the YMCA.” it seemed like the most obvious and natural thing to come check it out.

[We stopped offering classes a the YMCA when our dojo moved to its current location in January 2011]

What are you working on these days?

Being a supportive presence for the people in my life. I love working with young people, because they are so ready to be empowered and taught real practical skills that make their lives better. They know what dysfunction looks like in adults, and they want very much to forge a path that is uniquely their own, where they can contribute and shine in ways the world has not seen before.

What themes spiral through your practice?

Boundaries, communication, relationship building. I have always had a strong vision for what grace looks like, and I know grace when I feel it. Developing the skills to draw people into what I’m discovering is an ongoing learning experience. Children are so beautifully in touch with their own intuition; I seek to help the adults in my life do the same.

What advice would you give aikido students who are just beginning their training?

Approach each day as a learning experience. Aikido improves our skill in so many areas: emotional regulation, creativity, intelligence, decision-making, fitness, vitality, and stability. Perhaps most important is how practice reframes our relationship to learning itself. By remembering what it was like to be full of wonder, we begin to experiment, and make adjustments based on how those experiments go. We learn to reflect and imagine a new scenario that was not available to us last year or even last week.