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5 Questions with Michael Veltri, Chief Instructor of DC Aikido

5 Questions with Michael Veltri, Chief Instructor of DC Aikido

Saturday, June 29, 2013 - 12:12am
DC Aikido students demonstrate a takedown in class earlier this month.


Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba in the early-20th century. The art focuses on redirecting the force of an attacker rather than using strength and aggression for self defense. Redirection of an attack is often supplemented by a joint lock or takedown.

In addition to the martial aspect of the art, Aikido contains spiritual and philosophical components.

To learn more about Aikido and practical aspects of its study, we talked to Michael Veltri, Chief Instructor of DC Aikido. Michael began studying Aikido in the 1980s in Southern California while serving in the Marine Corps. He trained Aikido in Japan for 10 years and is now a 5th degree black belt.

Michael now owns and operates DC Aikido in Adams Morgan.

1. You have been practicing Aikido for more than 20 years. What do you enjoy so much about it?
Veltri: Aikido offers so many benefits, and I enjoy them all! I get a great workout and stay in fantastic shape by training and teaching regularly. I have the confidence of knowing I can defend myself and my family if necessary. I have met and made so many great friends over the years of teaching! I also love the non-physical benefits such as reduced stress, greater awareness, a very calm and pleasant “way of being”, and improved leadership. The benefits are endless!

2. People without direct exposure to martial arts often find the undertaking intimidating. What would you say to a prospective student who is reluctant to try Aikido?
Veltri: We are only as successful as the risks we take. So, don’t let your fear hold you back! Do your “homework” researching martial arts studios you are interested in, then sign up for an Intro Lesson. For example, we require all potential students to go through our Intro Program which includes a tour of our Aikido school, an explanation of our Program Curriculum, two private low-impact Intro Lessons, and finally a Q&A session with the Program Director.

3. What can prospective students expect from a typical Aikido class?
Veltri: At my school, each Adult class is 60 minutes. We break that 60 minutes into four areas: 15-minute warm-ups, 15-minutes of Aikido drills to build coordination and a solid foundation in the basics, 15-minutes practicing a self-defense technique, and 15-minutes of “Applied Aikido” – that is, how to actually apply what you are learning in your life, both personal and professional!

4. What is the progression of students through the system in terms of awards (for example, belts) as well as skills?
Veltri: In Aikido and most martial arts, there are the ranks before Blackbelt, and then the Blackbelt ranks. At my school we have promotion tests for Adult students every three months. We have 8 belt levels before Blackbelt that an Adult student can achieve. After that, students achieve 1st degree Blackbelt and so on. There are 10-degrees of Blackbelt in Aikido.

5. Many people find that a gym or martial arts school serves an important role in their social lives. How does DC Aikido foster a sense of community among its members?
Veltri: Building a strong sense of community is one of my schools cornerstones! In addition to meeting some great students, mentors, and teachers at my school, we hold monthly social events both at my school and in the DC area – anything from promotion parties to wine-tasting events to Samurai movie night! And of course everyone’s favorite – going out to eat Japanese!!

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DC Aikido is located in Woodley Park, across the street from the Woodley Park/Adams Morgan Metro Station.

In addition to adult Aikido instruction, DC Aikido also offers a youth martial arts program for kids ages 4 and up.

To learn more about training with Michael, visit the DC Aikido website or call 202 629 2560.

Check out a few more pics from our recent visit to DC Aikido below.