Keshia Richmond speaks with Sensei Terrence Freeman, an Alabama based Aikido instructor. They discuss the Aikido martial arts style, basic techniques, benefits to women and bullying. Partial transcript below.
Keshia Richmond: The little that I know about you seems like a lot. I know you have so much experience in Aikido– that you’ve been doing that for decades. As well as some experience in Tae Kwon Do, in karate. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Okay so I started, I didn’t start doing–Tae Kwon Do was the first martial art I got into. And that was around? I think when I started that I was in the tenth grade. That was around 87. I live in a small area so we grew up seeing all the stuff on TV and movies and I was always into action movies and I was like you know wanna be like this guy. You got certain people you idolize from TV. So when I was in the tenth grade that’s when I started taking Tae Kwon Do. You have to sign up for a year…you had to sign up for a year’s contract. And I remembered I signed that contract and in about the tenth month you know I stopped, I stopped going. They would send a check in the mail. The thing you had to pay, was just at the time, $25 a month. I kept getting them in the mail and my dad said, “you know you got to pay this, right?
This is one thing I noticed in the martial art community. You got some people that like to dis’ other martial arts. I had to check myself a couple years ago on that. I said you know what, they all have their uses. I look at them like recipes. We’re all trying to get the same place but you got some people use other spices some people have different methods you know like the way they do things.
Keshia Richmond: Let me ask you a question. I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: I was just gonna say you know I’ll tell you but around a 10-month I stopped going and I found myself getting bored with it. I was 17 at the time so you know 17 year old mind is other places. But I started getting the last two months I just kind of stopped going. But go ahead, you was going to say something?
Keshia Richmond: I was gonna ask you, do you think Tae Kwon Do is like the gateway style in martial arts that most people generally start off with? Tae Kwon Do.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Yeah, I heard some people say that. It definitely was for me. I’ve heard like I heard people say well I started with Tae Kwon Do. You know structure. You got structure. You got stance and everything. It just teaches you some discipline. That’s what it did to me. It’s just starts you off and then you may say okay well alright now I’m gonna go to another art. I’ve definitely heard a lot of people say that was their start you know.
Keshia Richmond: Okay, so tell us what is Aikido exactly.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Aikido is Japanese in origin. And the teaching, the story we got was the founder of Aikdo, is Japanese. He’s no longer with us now. His name was Morihei Ueshiba. He had some students and he taught them. They spread out to different parts of the world. I was told that the guy that started the type of Aikido I take which is called to Tomiki Aikido his name was Kenji Tomiki. You’ll have different forms. You may see somebody in there. It’s a famous guy, Christian Han. I think his name is. He’s from France I think. I watch him on his videos he’s doing a different style. It gives you the option of protecting yourself against a larger and stronger attacker.
Keshia Richmond: Okay.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Aikido is all about…it’s got a certain flow to it. If somebody was to come up and push me or try to hit me, in our style of Aikido, Tomiki Aikido, we always using two hands. We start with the two hands. You’ll probably find me standing up. (STANDS UP.) Okay tell me if you can you still see me.
Keshia Richmond: Yeah.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Okay so one of the first things we learn is how pose how close somebody has to be to touch you or do physical harm. One person will stand, extend our arms and we’ll touch our palms. If somebody was to stand closer than that, they can physically touch you. A lot of times people stand face to face and it’s like this (DEMONSTRATES).
Some people call it the interview stage and they’ll be telling you what all they’re gonna do to you, how they displeased with something with something you did.
Keshia Richmond: (imitates attacker) I’m gonna mess you up.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Yeah the speech right.
Keshia Richmond: Right.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: And I watched a lot of these you know you got these all these videos online on YouTube and they’re like you know we used to do that in middle school and high school. They’ll standing face to face. I’m like, why is he doing that?
Okay so he’s diverted your attention. He’s got you looking eye-to-eye. You don’t know what he’s got in his hand or whatever.
They start us off with touch hands and that’s just basically a measuring tool. And then one person attacks and one person defends. People don’t come at you like this but when you make contact with somebody it’s all the same, like whether somebody’s pushing you, they’re grabbin’ you. What you’re learning to do is to deal with that incoming force. If somebody comes in, we put those hands up first and we step perpendicular. You’re gonna step to the left or to the right. You may step back. There may be a situation where you might step into them.
But usually, I bring both my hands up and we made contact. Whichever way their energy is pushing me, that’s where I’m gonna go. So, I’m always trying to get in sync the energy. You know the drawing of the image yin and yang?
Keshia Richmond: Yes.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Okay so that’s you know that’s how they see it. Are you familiar with the term Fibonacci?
Keshia Richmond: No. Not quite.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: It’s a spiral pattern and then whirl winds like tornadoes and what is the big one?
Keshia Richmond: Hurricanes? Tornadoes? Twisters?
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Hurricanes. Yes.
Keshia Richmond: Numerical sequences. Is that right?
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Yes. Yes. Yes. I got on on my refrigerator. Say it again.
Keshia Richmond: Lazarusdigital says numerical sequence.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Exactly Lazarus, exactly. I found this out, a few years ago, I was taking an online course in trade and foreign currencies and he used the term Fibonacci and he started explaining and I looked it up and I started researching.
This is probably leading to your next question like you were going to ask me what’s the difference in between Aikido and Taekwondo.
So most of your striking hearts, you know like you’re opposing that force like you’re blocking. And then you’re striking…
Keshia Richmond: (demonstrates blocks)
Sensei Terrence Freeman: yeah yeah you guys you know like certain blocks and and you know like you’re meeting that force that’s coming at you and so what I wanna do like you know I talked about the two-handed bra this is just to keep you from coming in like in like once you get in my immediate space this well this is to keep you from coming into my media space come any closer and and when you when you start pushing or you know shoving whatever I’m just gonna step to the side and the gas that you’ve allowed me the energy that you print that’s that’s fun that’s what I’m working on and so you’re you know it it’s just like if somebody was coming swinging at you and they miss you know you got to eat that energy that you put in there.
Keshia Richmond: Right. And follow through.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Right. And so what happens is so we’re just we’re just thinking we’re just trying to keep them getting hit so you got the person try to push you so okay so they may contact you step aside and they got to do something again like they got a you know like what you would like to do when you step aside you like somebody trying to push you you step out of the way and sound like I got your forearm and your elbow of stuff in my hands you know you know hopefully you know my phone at that point is it you know I got your stretched out hopefully could you you push that me and I evade it there right and so I’m over here so you’re gonna try to turn and turn and face me you know you got to do something else and so when you’re trying to catch up or reach reach amber or whatever I’m taking you are y’all balance right you know like because if you really try to push me you really committed to it you’re stepping into me and you gave me something to work off of so you’re off balance and I got you stretched out right and so you try to do something else I got an elbow to work with so and the fact that he’s off balance usually the journey you’re gonna try to keep the person going like whichever way they’re leaning okay so you help them to keep going in that direction.
Keshia Richmond: Now, I’m sorry. I want to say, Sensei Freeman, that I personally don’t know Aikido. I know my father [Grandmaster Roy Richmond] had experience with Aikido. But I can tell you, being from New York and growing up on those streets and doing street fighting and it’s all about not eating personal space like if someone comes close like you have to fight right could be useful you know in self-defense and keeping people out your space because if you teach them that way you think pretty much you know the whole thing was like keeping your face from getting scratched, keeping your earrings in your ear, keeping your shirt on as a woman. So if you’re able to divert people, men, women, whoever was coming towards you using Aikido that would be excellent.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: Yeah you are escaping a lot. The clothes pulling and the hair grabbing–all that’s going to come.
Keshia Richmond: Yes.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: One of the things too, like you saw me keep bringing up my hands. A lot of times what happens, it’s like somebody walk straight into you. They’re trying to do that, “what you’re gonna do?” If somebody’s face to face with you, they’re not looking at your hands they’re looking at your face.
Keshia Richmond: Right.
Sensei Terrence Freeman: We used to do this drill. If me and you are standing face-to-face, I’m standing this way. I’m raising my hand. They say, “tell me when you see the hands.” So we just raised it real slow.
Keshia Richmond: Now you’re looking out of your peripheral, for the hands?
Sensei Terrence Freeman: No. The person like they’re standing right in front of me. Okay. And, I’m just just raising my hand. What I want them to tell me.. You’re looking at me face-to-face, when do you notice that something is moving? Right. When he gets half way up. They’re focusing on my face. They’re like okay, I see when he gets all right from here. And you know usually, that’s like if you’re standing arguing with somebody and you just notice the hand when it’s about half way up, you’ve already got slapped. It’s too late to play catch-up then.
So, listen. You are so right, even not being trained in Aikido, just being on the street. Like I know this one
Keshia Richmond: So, listen. You are so right, even not being trained in Aikido, just being on the street. Like I know this one time I was at the courthouse and this man was so mad. He ran up to my car. Thankfully I had my windows up.