Raehum Paik remembers the first day he wandered into an
Aikido dojo (place of training).
“There was an old guy who looked like Mr. Burns from The
Simpsons and he never said a word…he directed me to the mat and did very simple
boring movements and I did them. At the end of each class, he would hug me and
say awe did our best’,” Paik explained.
Paik said that this quote really stood out to him and
started changing the way he viewed his life.
“When I became a father in 2011, I thought to myself, you
know, did I really do my best today?” Paik said.
One day after six months of training, his teacher turned to
him and told him he did it.
“For six months, he grabbed my hand and I would struggle and
then one day I didn’t struggle. I realized that it was all in my head and I was
fighting him without realizing…but when you just accept and are aware, you let
it go,” he said.
Paik explained that Aikido emphasizes
a lot on getting rid of ego, compare to other
“The meaning ai signifies love/harmony and ki means
do means a way/art….all
together it means the way of spiritual harmony,” Paik said. “In many martial art practices,
there are two people who fight and one person wins and the other loses, it is a competition with rules…in aikido there
is no winner, no rules, no competition, because so
is the life.”
He further explained that one of the most important
principles of aikido is learning how to accept your training partner’s energy.
“It’s a technique where you let them accept you first…it may
look boring in the beginning but once you get hooked it’s a very rewarding art,”
Paik first started an Aikido Club at Cold Spring Harbor
Laboratory where he was working.
“I noticed that the scientists that were practicing started
viewing science differently,” he said. “In science, you have to get this
experiment done and if doesn’t work, you feel like you failed but that’s not
true, science is about doing your best on the questions you asked and accepting
the results you get.”
Paik, who is now a research scientist at the Mouse Genetic
Engineering Laboratory with the Department of Physiology, explained that he
started the Aikido Club to share his passion with others.
“I’ve been practicing for eight years and it helps me find
solid ground and peace in the world,” he said. “I don’t have any expectations
for the club, if no one comes, I will meditate by
myself and if five or ten or more people come, that’s great.”
Paik explained that the club is great for people with no
experience and that beginners should give it a try.
“Regardless of your age
or physical strength, you can do it. All
we practice is the path of atransformation from ego-self to egoless self’ thru
Aikido principles. The club also has a
rare privilege to study Iaido (Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu), under highly
experienced and qualified instructor, Jon Andresen sensei, on Sunday morning.”
The Aikido Club meets
on Sunday (Iaido, 8:00 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. and Aikido, 9:15
a.m. to 10:30 a.m.at the STRF lobby. For more information, check the club’s facebook or email Raehum. This article is part of the “Meet The Researcher” series which showcases researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.