Saturday with sensei

Late-arrivals kneel at the edge of a Henry Crown Field House wrestling mat until Wendy Whited Sensei invites them to join the dozen other students—most in white robes, some in draping dark pants—practicing aikido falls. The newcomers pair up and imitate their peers, one sending a soft punch, the other gracefully batting down the aggressor’s hand, throwing him off balance and to the floor. They all repeat the drill until Whited, a 6th-degree black belt who’s studied aikido for 30 years, calls them back into line to demonstrate the next practice move—but not before exhibiting the proper Japanese woman’s bow (while kneeling, place the left hand on the ground, then the right, forming a triangle with the fingers.)

At the Saturday session, one of a series of special classes to celebrate the Aikido Club’s 30th anniversary, undergraduates and graduate students learn the basics from Whited, who founded the Inaka Dojo in Beecher, Illinois, in 1992; spent two years studying in Japan; and taught U of C Aikido Club classes until the 1980s, when sociology professor Donald Levine, AB’50, AM’54, PhD’57, took over.


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Photos (from left to right): Aikido Club acting president Qin Zhen, a graduate student in Chemistry, stretches before practicing her moves. Bruce Schmoetzer, who trains with Whited and has come to help teach the U of C session, takes a kick from the sensei. Wendy Whited Sensei demonstrates the proper Japanese woman's bow.

Photos by Dan Dry.

March 8, 2004