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Dojo gets a big, green home
Aikido in Fredericksburg opens in new state-of-the-art home

 Aviv Goldsmith supervises aikido training at his new dojo in Spotsylvania. There will be an open house at Aikido in Fredericksburg on Saturday.
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Date published: 1/21/2010

BY BILL FREEHLING

In 1975, Aviv Goldsmith was a "bored teenager" who stumbled upon a Japanese martial art called aikido, whose nonviolent methods focus on self-defense and well-being.

Thirty-five years later, Goldsmith has opened a built-from-scratch aikido dojo in Spotsylvania that has won rave reviews for its beauty and environmentally friendly design. An open house is set for Saturday.

Most aikido dojos in the U.S. are in strip malls or warehouses, which was the case for the dojo Goldsmith had been running on Spotsylvania's Leonard Drive after moving from Reno, Nev., in 2002. The new home for Aikido in Fredericksburg, located a couple of miles from Massaponax High School, is not like most dojos.

The 7,200-square-foot dojo sits on 20 acres at 6155 Hickory Ridge Road and is walking distance from where Goldsmith and his wife, Donna, live. The dojo was designed to be in harmony with nature and provide students with a "place to unwind and recharge."

Outside the dojo is a covered training pavilion and an organic vegetable garden where aikido students will cultivate produce to be donated to the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank. Inside, visitors encounter signs telling them to remove their shoes before entering the 3,500-square-foot training area.

The first thing a visitor may notice in the training area is a fan 12 feet in diameter that hangs from the peak of the 22-foot ceiling. There are 100 training mats spread around the floor. At the front are photos of aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba and one of his senior students (with whom Goldsmith has trained in Japan). Calligraphy adorns the walls, including one that shows Goldsmith's lofty rank: He's a fifth-degree black belt, three from the highest.

In Japan, aikido students travel to dojos for training that stretches for as long as a month. To allow that locally, Aikido in Fredericksburg has a small dorm facility, locker rooms for men and women, and a kitchen. There's also a library stocked with books and videos on aikido.

The building will be LEED-certified and has won recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others for its innovative site design, which features low-impact stormwater management, a wildlife habitat area and a small greenhouse.


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Aikido in Fredericksburg is having an open house between noon and 4 p.m. Saturday at its dojo at 6155 Hickory Ridge Road in Spotsylvania County. Anyone is welcome. The event will include tours, welcome remarks, aikido demonstrations and mini-classes. For more information, go to aikidoinfredericksburg.org or call 540/582-9600.