The Philosophy and Purpose of Aikido

The Definition of Aikido

 

The word Aikido, is made up of three Japanese Kanji:

'AI' - To haronize, to fit in with

'Ki' - Spirit, Mind, Energy

'Do' - Way, Path, Road

The word aikido is often translated as: 'the way of unifying (with) life energy' or 'the way of harmonious spirit'

Aikido is a Japanese martial art which was developed after an accumulation of many experiences in the life of its founder Morihei Ueshiba. It uses an opponents attacking force against them, which unbalances an opponent resulting in the opportunity to apply joint locks on wrists and elbows, putting us in control of the attackers momentum so we can safely negate the attack and end the confrontation using throws or pins. It was the founders goal to overcome an attacker without harm or injury.

"Regardless of how fast or slow my attacker advances, I will not be taken off guard nor defeated. This is not because my technique is faster than that of my opponent. Fast and slow are of no consequence. The contest has already been decided from the beginning, merely by having the intention to fight with one who embodies the universe, my attacker has fixed his mind on violating the harmony of nature itself. In other words, the moment my attacker fixes his attention on fighting with me, he has already lost."

 

- Morihei Ueshiba

Attacks are met by entering and turning movements that redirect the energy of the opponent, blending attacker and defender together. Aikido can be described as the study of conflict and harmony. Aiki-doka (Aikido students) strive to meet conflict with harmony, resulting in balance. This balance can be understood by comparing it to opposites meeting, blending together to make the 'whole'.

Aikido was developed with a heavy influence on internal meditative disciplines as well as physical conditioning. It should be approached with compassion. O Sensei's ambition was to create a martial art which focused on self cultivation and never to think of competing with or bettering our opponents.

Aikido can have many benefits in our everyday lives. Apart from being an excellent martial art for self defence, at its heart can be found great psychological and spiritual benefits.

 

Aikido is a budo (martial way) of the highest order, refining and developing human character. The principles of martial arts can be applied to everyday life with correct training, and this is where the true strength can be found - In creating individuals who benefit society.

Aikido can greatly improve health and fitness, and some of the benefits from training include:

 

  • Improved breathing
  • Better posture
  • Increases aerobic fitness
  • Improved circulation
  • Joints become more flexible
  • Relieves tension, promotes relaxation
  • Improves co-ordination and reflexes

Aikido training is also a great way to increase confidence. We do not back away in aikido, and conflict is met by stepping forward. There is always some sort of conflict going on in our lives. Some of us may find ourselves avoiding or fleeing confrontation (be it physical or psychological in nature, and aikido can help us face all our problems in a constructive, positive way.

Styles Of Aikido

 

There are many different styles of aikido. Some are very similar to each other, others differ greatly in what they teach, and this can have an effect on the training outcomes and goals.

Out of all the styles that have been developed over the years, there are considered to be four main ones:

 

  • Aikikai - The original organisation, the original aikido of the founder

 

  • Yoshinkan - Founded by Gozo Shioda Sensei in 1955. A hard style, more technical and with less emphasis on ki development. This style is popular with Japanese police forces.

 

  • Shodokan or Tomiki - Founded by Kenji Tomiki Sensei in 1967. This style is very competitive in nature and influenced by sporting Judo.

 

  • Shin Shin Toitsu-do - Another sporting style of aikido, founded by Koichi Tohei Sensei in 1971. Also known as The Ki Society, it focuses also on spiritual aspects of the art. The sporting aspect is known as taigi, which is a series of throws to be executed within a certain time. Also, another aspect of this style is kiatsu, which is ki healing.

 

  • Iwama - Founded by Morihiro Saito Sensei, and a very close style to the original, but places a greater emphasis on weapons training. This style is still part of the aikikai.