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Peace And Justice Through Martial Arts

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Aikido, as well as other forms of martial arts, strengthens both our bodies and minds. “It’s great for the abs, even greater for the ego,” Dianne Costanzo, Ph. D. stated. Costanzo, who teaches at Dominican, transformed into Sensei Costanzo as she began her lecture at Dominican’s Caritas Veritas Symposium. Costanzo’s lecture discussed the peaceful way of martial arts and how it can be incorporated into our daily lives through our Caritas Veritas motto. Although she wears a hakama, shirt-like pants commonly worn in martial arts, during aikido she wore a conservative gray suit to her lecture.

Sensei Costanzo is a fourth dan in aikido, a Japanese martial art. The term sensei refers to a teacher of Japanese martial arts. She achieved this title through her study of aikido for over 20 years. Her teacher was Shihan Fumio Toyoda, who learned his aikido under Kissomaru Ueshiba, the son of aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba.

Besides her studies in aikido, Costanzo has earned degrees in several subjects. She has earned a doctorate in English and a master’s in pastoral studies from Loyola University Chicago. She has also studied at University of Chicago and St. Xavier University. She incorporates these different types of knowledge into the classes that she teaches at Dominican.

In her lecture, she discussed the integration of body, mind and spirit as demonstrated in aikido martial arts. She explained how aikido can be broken down into three parts: harmony, energy and the way. A common misconception about martial arts is that it is violent and dangerous. Costanzo explained how aikido is different.

“How do martial arts [become] a vehicle for peace and justice?” Costanzo asked. She explained how aikido was not competitive, but the reward is self-realization. Being non-competitive, aikido incorporates partners instead of opponents. She explained how harm is not used in aikido, and if someone was harmed, they have not correctly learned aikido. “As we participate in our own learning, we help others in theirs,” Constanzo said. She mentioned how she would invite or lead someone to the ground, rather than throw him or her.

Throughout her 20 years of aikido study, she has transformed from the student to the teacher. “As we become more proficient, we are able to execute techniques more fluidly more effectively and if we devote ourselves to our practice, maybe even more eloquently,” she stated. Costanzo transfers her knowledge and wisdom to students by teaching them aikido in class at Dominican as well in her own classes in her dojo, or martial arts school.

She also stated how “we are lazy,” that they get out of the way from attacks. “Paradoxically, as we literally learn to get out of our own way, we find our way into others; opening a lane, a path, and a methodology. So we come to see ourselves as we truly are, sisters and brothers connected by the truth of existence. We belong to each other. And because of that, we have a responsibility to each other,” Costanzo stated. This integration between mind, body and others is what connects aikido to Dominican’s four pillars. Prayer, study, community and service can be applied to both aikido and daily student activities. “In short, we learn to lighten up,” Costanzo said.

Her lecture followed John Jenks’s regarding the moral mission of good journalism.

Their lectures occurred in the former pool, now known as the Underground at 11:15am on Sept 27. Besides the daunting front row, empty seats were hard to come by in this crowded event. Chairs are not needed at Sensei Costanzo’s dojo, Tokushinkn Dojo. It is located at One Point Center at 48 Lake St. in Oak Park. Further explanation of her aikido teaching in the seminar program at Dominican can be found at the following YouTube link:

– Olivia Antosz, Contributing Writer


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