A barefoot Sheila Barksdale stepped onto the mat, raised a 3-foot long sword into the air and recited poems by Emily Dickinson.
In Barksdale’s demonstration, called “Interpreting the Sword,” she shared her passion for painting, poetry and Japanese swordsmanship Saturday afternoon at the Archer Community Center.
Scattered among various Aikido martial arts movements, Barksdale showed off her paintings and discussed the meanings behind them. She said during the show that Dickinson’s work and the Aikido art form are linked by their abilities to free the mind.
“Emily Dickinson chose her words very carefully,” she said, which was one link to Aikido.
Barksdale said she received her first black belt in Aikido last year and has been performing with a Japanese sword, or katana, for about four years.
Thomas Huffman, sensei of Aikido at the Unified Training Center, is a black belt in four areas of martial arts and has been practicing for almost 30 years. He said Barksdale is a shodan, or black belt, which signifies that she knows the basics and can begin learning higher practices.
“She’s got enough knowledge that she knows what she is doing in these styles,” Huffman said.
[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 2/24/2014 under the headline "Artist combines poetry with martial arts"]
Santa Fe College student Velinda Davis talks to artist Sheila Barksdale on Saturday at the Archer Community Center at the “Interpreting the Sword” event.