The deceptively soft, spherical, even “dance-like” movements of Aikido allow the practitioner to first disrupt and redirect the linear force of an attack, then break the attacker’s balance, and finally neutralize the opponent with a range of joint-locks and throws. A practitioner of Aikido trains to ultimately unify the action of their body, mind, and spirit. This unity allows advanced Aikido exponents to effortlessly imbue their techniques with the increased energy necessary to throw and control much larger and stronger opponents.
Aikido combines defense and attack into one and the movements remain the same regardless of whether one is attacked while seated (kneeling) or standing, by an unarmed opponent or by one wielding a knife, sword or short staff, or by multiple attackers simultaneously. Unlike certain other modern martial forms, Aikido is not a sport, and the techniques have not been adapted to allow safe competitions.
The ideal of an Aikido practitioner as a martial artist should be such a level of mastery that allows for effective self-defense without causing unnecessary injury to an attacker
Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba was born in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, in 1883. During his youth, Morihei studied and obtained teaching licenses from a broad range of famous koryu bujutsu (ancient martial systems), including kenjutsu (sword fencing), sojutsu (spear fighting) and jujutsu (unarmed combat). Dissatisfied with mere technical mastery, Ueshiba also immersed himself in the studies of religious mysticism. As a result of these studies, it is believed that by the 1930’s Ueshiba had achieved enlightenment and was regarded as the premier martial artist of modern Japan.
Morihei Ueshiba, now called “O-Sensei” (Great Teacher) or Kaiso (Founder), founded what is now known as Aikido because he felt that most martial arts relied strictly on force and physical prowess, which would naturally fade with age. He felt that felling an opponent by force was not the Way, but instead it was important to “accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly produce, protect, and cultivate all things in nature”.
O Sensei’s 3 principles of Aikido are:
|Victory over form or correct style of victory|
|Victory over self|
|Victory faster than light|
Aikido has no competitive tournaments. An Aikidoist betters her/himself without belittling others. There are tests and ranks, however these are symbols of knowing certain techniques, rather than an indication that one person is “better” than another.
Why Practice Aikido?
Most importantly, Aikido develops self-improvement. Aikido is more than the study of physical techniques; proper etiquette, attitude and behavior are also emphasized. Throwing and falling are stressed equally – your partner is not an opponent, but an assistant: you acquire the technique by being thrown, and practice the technique by throwing.
Aikido has an ethic: to defend yourself without vengeance, to forgive your enemies, and to harmonize with any attack of any description. Aikido technique is a metaphor for a way to lead your life: avoid confrontations, harmonize with unavoidable ones, and maintain grace under pressure through good times and bad. Because Aikido doesn’t depend on physical strength, it is especially attractive to women, children and older adults.
“The goal of Aikido training is not perfection of a step or skill, but rather improving one’s character according to the laws of nature. One becomes “resilient” inside yet this strength is expressed softly. Movements found in nature are efficient, rational, and soft, while the center is immovable, firm, and stable. This principal of a firm center is universally consistent — and must be true for each person. The culmination of Aikido is expressed by aligning one’s center with the center expressed throughout nature.” Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Second Doshu