Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Aikido of Hilo Celebrating 30th Anniversary

Sensei Robert Klein, right, demonstates Aikido move

   It is called “The Way of Harmony with Universal Spirit” and has followed a path of protecting, rather than hurting.

   “We learn that aggression breeds greater aggression and that kindness also will be returned by others,” Sensei Robert Klein of Aikido of Hilo said.

   Klein and his wife Barbara founded the Hilo Aikido Dojo in 1980 and this weekend will be celebrating its 30th anniversary with a Winter Aikido Camp.

   “Barbara is the chief instructor at our dojo,” Klein said of his wife.

   Both Robert and Barbara Klein are Rokudan, sixth degree black belt, and have trained in aikido for nearly 40 years.

   Aikido was founded during the early part of the 20th Century and was restricted to Japanese aristocracy and the elite members of the Japanese military.

   It was during the 1950’s that Aikido teachings were made public and have now spread worldwide.

   Over a four day period, from Feb. 12 to the 15th, Aikido of Hilo will be holding a series of events beginning this Friday at 7 p.m. with a public demonstration at Sangha Hall at the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin.

   “The public demonstration is open to the public and we are asking for a $3 donation to help defray cost,” Gary Petrison said.

   Petrison, along with his son, recently got involved in Aikido and has become an enthusiastic supporter of the Way of Harmony according to Robert Klein.

   Coming from Aikido World Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan to take part in the four days of activities is Mitsuteru Ueshiba, Waka Sensei, and great grandson of the Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido.

   “It is a great honor for us to have Waka Sensei coming to visit us,” Robert Klein said.  “He is the direct descendent of the fourth generation of Aikido.

   Ueshiba, the son of the third and current Doshu (the title denoting the world leader of the original organization of Aikido) is someday expected to succeed his father in that role, becoming the Fourth Doshu.

   “Waka Sensei (Ueshiba) has traveled to many places in the world, but this is his first teaching visit ever to the US,” Klein said.

   “Invitations have been sent to all Hawaii dojos and to hundreds of dojos across the mainland,” Petrison said.  “We’re expecting a good turnout for our public demonstration and are excited about hosting these events.”

    The Klein’s believe that this is a once in a life time opportunity to see the great grandson of the founder of Aikido who may someday be the leader of the Aikikai.

   Joining the Klein’s as a featured instructor will be Randy Scoville from the Hawaii Aikido Federation on Oahu.  Scoville has obtained the Aikido rank of 7th degree black belt and is one of only a handful of Hawaii sensei to have obtained that level.

   Also joining the Klein’s and Scoville is Terumasa Hino of Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, and several instructors and students from Hawaii and the Mainland.

   “Seventy-five participants from more than 15 dojos will be here in Hilo for this special event,” Petrison said. 

  The Aikido participants will spend all day Saturday and Sunday and half the day on Monday in seminars and instructional periods as part of their Winter Camp.

   “We’ll conclude with a Celebratory Banquet at the Hilo Yacht Club on Monday,” Klein said. 

   Aikido of Hilo is one of five aikido dojos on Hawaii Island that continue to practice in the original teachings of the Ueshiba sensei and the Klein’s have the longest ongoing dojo on the island.

   Part of the Aikido philosophy can be found in its creed which states “To injure an opponent is to injure yourself.  To control aggression without inflicting injury is Aikido,” Morihei Ueshiba wrote.

  For more information on Aikido of Hilo’s 30th Anniversary Celebration go to www.aikidoofhilo.org/2010FebWinterCamp.html or email the Klein’s at aikidoofhilo@hawaiiantel.net.

February 12, 2010 Posted by | Events | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hilo’s Doc Klein – Aikido Black Belt

Robert Klein practices the art of Aikido

Robert Klein (right) practices the art of Aikido

   Through my travels and adventures I’ve met all types of people, some of whom have been featured in this column.

    I especially enjoy telling the stories of our local people who help our community through volunteer work or through their profession.

   One such person is Dr. Robert Klein, who has his own practice in Hilo, where he serves as a Chiropractic Orthopedist.

    Klein grew up in New York City, Queens, during the 50’s and 60’s when Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were blasting out home runs and becoming living legends.

   “The Yankees were winning championships year after year and everyone was a fan of theirs then,” Klein said.

   “When my friends and I were young and couldn’t go far from home, we played “stickball” in a back alley.  All that was needed was a broomstick and one of those cheap pink rubber balls,” he said.

   Klein would spend his summers at a county home in upstate New York and learned to swim at an early age.  “I never tried very hard to compete and never thought of myself as being an athlete,” he said.

   Organized school sports never interested Klein and gym class was one of his least favorites. Instead Klein opted to attend Boy Scout camp during the summers and participated in outdoor activities such as hiking long distances, camping, backpacking, climbing and the like.

Sensi Bob Klein
Sensei Bob Klein

In college Klein was introduced to a Japanese martial art called aikido.  “I became a very enthusiastic practitioner of aikido and within a few months I was attending about 10 hours of weekly classes,” Klein said.

   “Practicing aikido entailed training in physical, mental and spiritual aspects.  I was taught about the flow of mind/body energy called ki.  Around this time I first learned about chiropractic, a profession involved with natural healing restoring the energy flows of the body,” he said.

   After completing Chiropractic College in Chicago the Klein’s decided to move someplace warm and settled on Hilo in 1980.  “Winter in Chicago is like being exiled to Siberia.  Once we got to Hilo we never wanted to leave again.  I love the natural beauty, the surrounding ocean and the rural lifestyle of the Big Island,” he said.

    During the ‘90’s Klein trained for three years to become a Chiropractic Orthopedist all the while continuing with his training in aikido.

6th Degree Black Belt
6th Degree Black Belt

“After three years of classes and multiple examinations I was able to specialize in non-surgical and non-drug treatments of bone, muscle, joint and nerve disorders,” Klein said.

   Today Klein continues his weekly five day training in aikido.  “With special classes and seminars in aikido I often end up practicing everyday for about one or two hours per day,” he said.

   In a typical one hour class, Klein will begin with about 15 minutes of warm up exercises by stretching all the parts of his body which includes breathing and centering activities.  “After warm ups we practice in pairs doing aikido techniques.”

   The aikido pair will take turns attacking with a strike or grab while the other defends, avoiding injury and subduing or throwing their partner.  “Being the attacker is a lot more work because you are thrown to the ground and have to fall smoothly without getting hurt and then get up again,” Klein said.

   Klein’s wife, Barbara, is also skilled in aikido and both are sixth degree black belts (rokudan) by having trained close to 40 years with master instructors from all over the world.  “We teach and/or practice almost every day and devote a lot of time to promoting this art on the Big Island,” he said.

   That’s right, Dr. Klein refers to aikido as an “art,” not a sport as I mistakenly called it while I was speaking with him at his clinic.

   “Aikido is not a sport and unlike many other martial arts, has no competition.  Aikido is more a way of life, a path of becoming a better person.  It has many physical and mental benefits, but also teaches us much about life and getting along with others,” Klein said.

   In their effort to stay healthy and fit the Klein’s prefer to eat “simple, less processed foods” which leads them to consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, poultry and fish.

   “I believe that humans were designed to consume “natural” foods.  The other ninety percent of what is in our supermarkets has all been created in the past century by profit-seeking corporations.  Even many of the so called healthy foods, now marketed as low fat, low calorie, low sodium, low cholesterol, high fiber, vitamin enriched, are so highly processed that much of their nutritional value has been lost,” Klein said.

   And Klein believes in a basic, simple to understand philosophy about life.  “If you take care of yourself, you’ll be around for a long time.  You need to keep improving yourself, but you have a whole lifetime to get it right, so relax,” he said.

August 10, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles | , , , , , | Leave a comment