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:
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: