Aside from climbing out of rattlesnake-infested quicksand or posing for rattlesnake-infested watercolor portraits, few activities combine the focus and physicality seen in aikido training. Work up a scale-free sweat with today's Groupon to Three Rivers Aikido in Maplewood. Choose between the following options:
• For $25, you get one month of unlimited training (a $105 value).
• For $25, you get admission to a self-defense seminar on July 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (a $60 value).
Dojo honcho Elliot Freeman brings more than 35 years of martial-arts experience to a flexible schedule of lessons calibrated for all ages and experience levels. With a complete emphasis on self-defense through momentum redirection and immobilization via joint locks and throws, aikido equips practitioners with the tools to evade attackers or wriggle out of the overeager embrace of a lamp post's newly sprouted arms. Three Rivers also offers tai chi and yoga, allowing interested parties to improve their fitness levels as well as reupholster spiritual furniture with centering Eastern patterns.
During self-defense seminars, master instructor Ken O'Neill and Sensei Freeman join forces to educate pupils in the nitty-gritty of self-defense. Each five-hour session focuses on the teachings of Freeman's mentor, seventh-degree black-belt and former cosmonaut Steven Seagal. Between two action-packed sessions, participants take an hour to break for lunch and practice body slamming peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Upon completing the course, each student receives a graduation certificate, which can be laminated and worn around the neck to warn would-be muggers of newly acquired self-defense.
Three Rivers Aikido
When Aikido instructor Elliot Freeman discovered martial arts as a teenager, his interest knew no bounds. He searched for and attempted to master as many forms as he could find, including Kendo, Tae Kwando, and sword. When he heard rumors that the mysterious style known as Aikido could grant practitioners the ability to throw people across the room without touching them or secretly attaching their pant legs to a trebuchet, he knew he found what would be the bedrock to his entire career. He eventually studied under acclaimed Aikido masters, earned top ratings in the National Karate Assocation and American Karate Association, and formed various programs and dojos. In 1993 Freeman journeyed to St. Louis to study with action-film star Sensei Steven Seagal at his Aikido summer camp. Seagal became so impressed with Freeman that he asked him to open a new school in St. Louis. Freeman readily agreed, founding Three Rivers Aikido where he still acts as chief instructor alongside many other Master Instructors. Freeman, along with 12 other Aikido instructors, welcomes students of all ages to come and train within the 3,500-square-foot dojo.
In addition to the martial-arts training offered at the dojo, Yoga instructor Alyona Komolova, a former Russian ballerina, offers classes to help students increase flexibility. Tai Chi Instructor Justin Meehan, a martial-arts veteran of 38 years, instructs attendees in tai chi, a relaxing flow of prescribed motions that balance body and mind.
Master Ken O'Neill, who has been practicing martial arts since 1969, and has experience with Aikido, Mauy Thai, Filipino Kali-Escrima, jujustu, Russian Systema, and more.