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Seattle Aikikai Launches Diversity and Equity in Aikido Project

Recognizing that aikido dojos in America could benefit from a diversity and equity focus, Seattle Aikikai has launched the Aikido I.D.E.A. (Inclusion Diversity Equity and Access) project with the support of a $10,000 foundation grant. The project will provide resources and training for dojos as well as mini grants to either individuals or dojos to execute projects to increase diversity, inclusion, access, and equity on their own.

“The idea is to create a spark for dojos to engage with inclusion issues,” says Seattle Aikikai dojo cho Malory Graham. “Both the pandemic as well as the social justice focus in America over the last two years have made us recognize that there is lots of work to do in this arena in aikido dojos. We are excited to receive this grant and to be able to provide this opportunity for the larger aikido community.”

One of our first priorities was to bring inclusion into our leadership by asking two young aikidoists of color to lead the initiative. Sam Taitel and César San Miguel have been appointed directors of the program in partnership with Seattle Aikikai. The project will also be forming a diverse board of advisors to provide direction as well as oversee the distribution of mini grant funds.

Says Sam Taitel, “We are asking people to honor that this work requires consistent intention and practice. We all must create space to grow individually and collectively, both on and off the mat. I deeply believe that this project will nourish that evolution.”

César San Miguel reflects, “We’ve grown up on the mat, we love Aikido, and we need it to change. Like Sam, I have been training for more than 20 years now: 90% of that time I have been the only person of color on the mat. As members of the new generation of serious practitioners, we need the Aikido community to invest more into the ideas that we’re bringing with this initiative.”

One of the first focuses of the project will be research to assess the need for diversity and equity in aikido in America. The project will be two years and will provide resources for dojos which include training opportunities, sample materials, and templates for dojos. The resources will be made available on a website, which will also feature a series of videos called “Stories from the Mat,” which will bring focus to underrepresented voices in aikido and serve as a portal for dojos and individuals to apply for mini grant funding. These mini grants will range from $250 to $1,000 for projects where there is a demonstrable need and outcome to help make the future of aikido more inclusive.

For more info join the online conversation Dec. 18th, 12pm pst as part of the Winter Solstice Seminar. Register at: tinyurl.com/WinterAikido

 

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