What is aikido?

Osensei
Osensei Morihei Ueshiba
Aikido
Ai - to harmonise
Ki - with life force
Do - the way
Osensei
Osensei demonstrating Aikido
Aikido students
Aikido students
Ki
Kanji for "Ki"
life force
Ki is the life force of the universe

Developed from an ancient martial art, Aikido came into being through the efforts of Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), the founder of Aikido. He is recognised as one of history's greatest martial artists. Even as an old man of eighty he could disarm any foe, down any number of attackers, and pin down an opponent with a single finger.

From his lifelong study of Budo (the way of the warrior) he grew, above all, to be a man of peace who detested fighting, war and any kind of violence. Many times his skills were tested by the best martial artists of the era. His uncanny skills in defeating the most practised of martial artists were famous throughout Japan. He concluded that, "Martial training is not training that has its primary purpose, the defeating of other, but the practice of God's love within ourselves."

Aikido is a non-aggressive, non-competitive and purely defensive art. It places great emphasis on relaxation and calmness of mind. Ki Aikido is a pure form of Aikido and physical strength plays no part.

To learn the art of resolving conflict in a non-violent way is one of the aims of Aikido. Each student practices to his or her own level of fitness and capability, and whilst it can include extremely vigorous and dynamic exercises, our program is also able to accommodate students with a disability. The study of Aikido helps individuals develop confidence and a more positive attitude. Both sexes and all ages practice equally.

Aikido is a way to to find harmony and peace within our selves. In Aikido there should be no aggression or tension. In the same way we learn to to deal with attacks by one or more individuals so we learn to develop calmness and an ability to deal with life's problems.

There is no aggression or tension in Aikido, everyone on the mat cooperates together for the benefit of all. We practice at our own level regardless of age, size, or sex. The purpose of our martial art is to learn to co-ordinate our mind and body through vigorous and enjoyable exercise.

Ki is the life force. The in the Japanese language the pronunciation writing is in two parts meaning, "nothing more". In scientific terms it is the "element" of the universe.

As you participate and develop in Aikido so the illnesses of modern life that are often associated with stress will diminish.  The exercises and stretching will stimulate the energy flow. Learning to deal with life in an better way will greatly alleviate problems in daily life.

Aikido was further grounded by Ueshiba's insistence that the key to harmony was to be found in conflict...It was only in conflict that students could come to know and so possibly transform habitual patterns of aggression or fear. The aikidoist, therefore, did not ignore conflict or spiritualize it out of existence. By entering into the attack, by joining and blending with the attack, the attack could be redirected back into the harmony of the universe. Instead of having to choose between running away or fighting, or losing or winning, aikido offered the warrior another choice.

Rick Fields, The Code of the Warrior (1991)

Aikido is what you make of it.  It can be a pain in the neck. A source of love and joy. An amazing enjoyable experience. A difficult challenge.  A mountain of work. A test of your determination and perseverance. The fulfillment of our reason to be here.

The place to improve the world is first in one's heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.

Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974)

It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.

Gandhi

One of my students recently told me a good story. It's about a man who was sitting on his roof because a tidal wave was sweeping through his village. The water was well up to the roof when along came a rescue team in a rowboat. They tried hard to reach him and finally when they did they shouted, "Well, come on. Get into the boat! And he said, "No, no. God will save me. So the water rose higher and higher and he climbed higher and higher on the roof. The water was very turbulent, but still another boat managed to make its way to him. Again they begged him to get into the boat and save himself. And again he said, "No, no, no. God will save me! I'm praying. God will save me! Finally the water was almost over him, just his head was sticking out. Then along came a helicopter. It came down right over him and they called, "Come on. This is your last chance! Get in here! Still he said, "No, no, no. God will save me! Finally his head went under the water and he drowned. When he got to heaven, he complained to God, "God, why didn't you try to save me? And God said, "I did. I sent you two rowboats and a helicopter."

We spend a lot of time looking for something called the truth. And there is no such thing, except in each second, each activity of our life. But our vain hope for a resting place somewhere makes us ignorant and unappreciative of what is here right now.

Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen (1989)