Aikido of Maine Solar - Portland, ME

Aikido of Maine business owner Gary Small stands next to his solar panels, which overlook Back Bay, Portland, Maine

When Gary Small and his wife Ania moved to Maine in 2000, they came looking for the right place to live the right life and to build a dojo to train the art of Aikido. The right place was Portland, Maine and the right dojo was a space on Anderson Street that would become Aikido of Maine.

“Aikido has been part of my life since I was a teenager. It is a unique practice among the martial arts because it is based on using non violent solutions to addresss aggression,” says Gary. “When founding Aikido of Maine, Ania and I took elements that resonated with us from the many dojos we had trained in over the years and incorporated them into a design that was uniquely our own. Building a dojo is an ongoing process, it never ends and we are always looking for ways to make it a better place.”

Aikido is often referred to as ‘The Art of Peace’ and is a non-competitive Japanese martial-art. It is unique in that it is founded on creating harmony out of conflict and order out of chaos with the aim at refining the individual and making the world a better place. It offers students the ability to learn self defense skills while simultaneously instilling character traits of cooperation, responsibility, respect, discipline and responsible decision making.

“Founder Morhei Ueshiba believed that this practice would help make a better world,” says Gary. “The name Aikido itself represents Ueshiba’s belief that the true meaning of the martial arts is to protect rather than harm.”

A Matter of Balance

Aikido of Maine training seminar

Training during a Fall 2012 seminar with William Gleason Sensei. Photo courtesy Aikido of Maine.

The principle to protect rather than harm applies as strongly to the environment as it does to interpersonal conflict. “We are concerned with all of the issues related to greenhouse gas emissions and warming trends on the earth,” Gary says. “As a business, the financial piece needed to balance the environmental benefits. It was when I met with Fortunat [co-founder of ReVision] that I learned that system costs had decreased by more than half in the last few years and that a strong suite of incentives was available for businesses like mine.”

ReVision Energy worked with Gary to design an 8kw solar electric array to be mounted on the flat rubber roof of his building. The solar electric panels are predicted to offset 98% of his facility’s electric usage, offering a savings of over $1,500 annually. The savings should pay for the system cost in roughly 7-9 years, while simultaneously offsetting 10,000 lbs of CO2 emissions each year.

While the financial side of the project needed to work, it’s the intangibles that excite Gary the most about the dojo’s new solar array. “Looking at the sun and knowing we are harvesting our own energy is a wonderful feeling,” Gary says. “We are doing our part to restore balance to the ecosystem, while also enjoying the benefits of making a sound financial decision.”

Aikido of Maine offers introductory classes to children and adult on a rolling basis, with a flexible schedule to fit the goals of busy lifestyle and training available six days a week. Learn more at:www.aikidoofmaine.com.