Peace ... Maheno Aikido Oamaru club co-founders Mark and Nicola Fitzwater demonstrate the sawari waza (kneeling/sitting) position, as their club members warm up. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

If you want to learn how to fight or topple someone over, aikido classes are not for you, Mark and Nicola Fitzwater say.

Mr Fitzwater first started the sport 25 years ago as a means of self defence after finding himself in a dangerous situation.

But instead, he found an outlet to centre himself and avoid violence.

“It’s the art of not fighting,” he said.

“It’s about connecting with people.You learn to move with your partner.”

Last week, Mr and Mrs Fitzwater, the co-founders of the Maheno Aikido Oamaru club, launched beginners’ classes, offering people the chance to dabble in the peaceful Japanese martial art.

The sport enabled people to resolve conflict without hurting the other person, Mrs Fitzwater said.

The dance-like martial art offered an awareness, or sixth sense, that allowed people to remove themselves from “dodgy” situations earlier.

Mrs Fitzwater had always been interested in martial arts, but did not like the idea of being kicked or bruised, so aikido was perfect.

“As adults we lose the freedom of movement and we worry about falling.”

The couple met at an aikido club in Wellington, where Mr Fitzwater was a teacher and Mrs Fitzwater a beginner.

”People ask what I get out of aikido, and I tell them ‘it’s given me a wife’,” he said.

They often joked that the sport acted as their marriage therapy.

The pair introduced the sport to Maheno five years ago, when they moved to the area from Wellington.

They have built up a steady core group in Maheno, but after the Covid-19 lockdowns “broke” the year up, the club lost some members.

Mr Fitzwater hoped the new beginners’ classes would attract more people.

The term started on February 8, but newcomers were always welcome.

For more information, contact Mrs Fitzwater on 021 233-9193.