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AikidoKanji


                   Ai               Ki               Do

Aikido

The Japanese word Aikido is written in three characters: Ai (harmony), Ki (spirit or energy), Do (the path or way). Roughly translated Aikido means "the way of the spirit of harmony.  The way of harmony with the universe."

What is Aikido?

Aikido is a true budo, or Martial Way that evolved in the historic tradition of Japanese warrior arts.  Aikido often described as "moving Zen", is a martial art that focuses on effectiveness against attack as well as harmony of spirit and is sometimes called the "gentle martial art."   Aikido is known for its graceful techniques and swift effortless movements that fling an attacker through the air or immobilize and control him with subtle pressure applied as joint locks.  Aikido movements are greatly influenced by the sword, stick and spear. The techniques are very fluid circular movements that blend and harmonize with the attack rather than confronting it thus turning an aggressive linear attach into a circular motion that renders attackers helpless. The aim of Aikido is not to harm an attacker, but to blend with and capture an opponent's aggressive actions and neutralize them. Properly executed, Aikido techniques convince an attacker that violence will not work. Studied in earnest, Aikido is more than a science of tactics and self-defense: it is a discipline for perfecting the spirit.

What are the Origins of Aikido?

Aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba, known as O'Sensei (Great Teacher) to more than one million students of Aikido throughout the world.  Even as a young man, he was an extraordinary martial artist, a master of the sword, the staff, the spear and the art of ju-jitsu.  But he also had a strong spiritual drive.

Leading a life of austerity and rigorous training he brooded over the futility of a path based on victory over others.  He studied religion, especially Shinto, (Japan's native religion of nature and worship).  Transformed by his spiritual insights he resolved his dilemma. Ueshiba's technical mastery of traditional martial arts evolved into a martial art of refinement and astonishing power fundamentally different from those that preceded it.

O' Sensei maintained that budo is a work of love, a path to overcome discord in ourselves and bring peace to the world, to make the heart of the universe one own heart."  "The secret of Aikido," he wrote, "is to harmonize with the movement of the universe and bring ourselves into accord with the universe itself."  The essence of all Aikido is spherical in motion, and ultimately, it is the energy of the attack itself which brings down the attacker. ...more

Dynamics of Aikido

The essence of all Aikido technique is the use of total body movements to create a spherical motion around a stable, energized center.   Even when the direction appears to be straight forward or backward, close observation revels the Aikidoist's movements are circular.  Even when a technique appears to be using only one part of the body, close observation will reveal the movements are in fact precise total body movements.

Properly executed, some techniques are spectacular, sending an opponent flying through the air. Others are like sight-of-hand, small,  movements that immobilize the attacker. Both results are achieved through precise use of leverage, inertia, gravity, and the action of centrifugal and centripetal forces. Ultimately, it is the energy of the attack itself which brings down the attacker. The conflict is over before it begins. ...more

Aikido Training

The central focus of budo is personal transformation, the creation of integrated human beings in harmony with all living things. However, philosophical discussion is kept to a minimum in the dojo.

O'Sensei wrote, "Aiki can never be encompassed by the brush or by the mouth. Do not rely on words to grasp it: attain enlightenment through practice."

The focus is on practical application:constant repetition to master the fundamentals of movement, timing and breathing. Students train themselves to capture the opponent's action and redirect it with techniques of martial efficiency and power. At the same time, they become aware of the tendency to overreact to opposition, and learn to remain centered under all conditions. Most training is done with a partner. Each person works as uke, the attacker, and as nage, the one receiving the attack. Both roles are stressed as each contributes skills that enhance overall sensitivity and control.

The techniques do not depend on physical strength for effectiveness. Results are achieved through precise and unified use of physical forces such as leverage, inertia and gravity.

Centering

The Aikidoist develops a relaxed posture in which the weight of the body is directed towards its physiologic center in the lower abdomen. Gravity is no longer a force to be overcome. Rather it serves to support and stabilize posture. As a result, ordinary movement assumes an appearance of grace and economy.

The effects of centering are mental as well as physical: vitality increases, the senses are sharpened, and one is less affected by everyday irritations and annoyances. This state is referred to in Japan as having hara, or strong ki, the inner quality which aids the student of Aikido to develop to his fullest potential in every area of life.

Relationship between Aikido and Everyday Life

The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task inthe Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter. 

Morihei Ueshiba, O Sensei The Founder of Aikido

One must maintain good Aikido posture and movement throughout the day. More important, however, is to maintain a modest attitude, and harmonize mind and body. In the realm of human relationships, one must avoid conflict and resolve problems in a harmonious Aikido fashion. In order to do this well, one must above all be modest and humble.

Sources: Aikido Online, Aikikai Foundation Wed Site, Aikido Primer by Erik Sotnak, Aikido FAQ by Kjartan Clausen, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia

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