Philosophy of Aikido
Aikido is primarily a self defense martial art and has as one of its philosophical pillars the notion of being in harmony with your attacker rather than being in conflict with them.
The ideal of Aikido is not to think of overpowering and defeating an opponent, but to harmonize with them both spiritually and physically. This is why Aikido is sometimes called “The Art of Non-resistance” or “The Non-Fighting Martial Art”.
As we learn the movements of this martial art, we will, at the same time, train our minds, improve our health and develop self-confidence. Through the physical practice of the self-defense techniques, the Aikidoka comes to appreciate and understand the mental, physical and functional aspects of Aikido.
During practice sessions, partners work in harmony with each other, learning when and how to yield, how to lead and guide another person’s movements and how to control an opponent through non-resistive techniques.
During an Aikido class, students practice techniques for blending with and neutralizing punches, grabs, and other assaults. This training develops balance, flexibility and coordination, as well as concentration and self-confidence in the face of an attack. The ultimate goal of Aikido training is to master a calm, alert and confident approach to conflict – a courageous and compassionate spirit that whole heartedly confronts the challenges and difficulties of life.
Aikido remains a martial art and can never be limited to a sport. Because Aikido philosophy promotes harmony and non-conflict, tournaments in Aikido are non-existent. Instead the clear presentation of the techniques, presence and calmness of bearing becomes the criteria for promotion. In addition, consideration is given to the Aikidoka’s character and attitude as well as their seriousness and diligence in practice.
A common question is “How long will it take me to get a black belt?” However, the benefits that one should reap in the martial arts have nothing to do with the color of a belt. They have to do with developing spiritual awareness, mental and emotional calmness as well as strength and physical health.
At the core of almost all Aikido philosophical interpretations, one identifies at least two fundamental threads: (1) a commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible (2) a commitment to self-improvement through Aikido training.
The gates of Aikido in ASA are open to people of all ages, classes, sexes, nationalities and races. Non-discrimination and non-exclusiveness are basic characteristics of Aikido and the ASA values. As in the case of young people and older practitioners, women are not subjects of any kind of discrimination.
The mechanics of Aikido
Aikido works by blending with the aggressor's initial attack, the moment it occurs, and channelling or leading the aggressive convergence away from you. In this way you imbalance your attacker, creating opportunities to apply a wide variety of throwing and pinning techniques.
Where many other martial arts focus on the application of direct and forceful energy to injure or even kill an attacker, the focus of Aikido is to blend with the energy of your attacker, never to confront it directly or clash with it.
Immobilizing your attacker without seriously injuring him is according to O Sensei, the purest form of self defence, and what all Aikidoka should strive to accomplish.
Although certain general movements and technical applications in aikido have been drawn from sword and spear fighting, as well as from various ancient schools of Jujutsu and Aikijutsu, they have been expanded and developed with certain unique additions and modifications made so that Aikido cannot easily be confused with any other art. Freedom and spontaneity in spherical movement are characteristic of the techniques of Aikido.
Despite the fact that Aikido teaches vigorous techniques such as strikes (atemi) and wrist holds inherited from ancient fighting arts, the emphasis on sperical rotation gives the visual impression of a smoothly flowing art, refined and delicate. These spherical motions of Aikido are in contrast to the linear movements of other martial art forms, where the direct forward or backward thrust gives the appearance of greater violence and requires a much larger area for performance.
In the spherical movements of Aikido, this becomes “when pushed, pivot and go around, when pulled, enter while circling”. This means that one moves in circular motion in response to the opponent and while moving spherically, one maintains this center of gravity to create the stable axis of movement.
And at the same time the opponent’s center is disturbed, and when he loses his center, he also loses all power. Then he is subdued swiftly and decisively.
The Aikido student must devote the major part of his/her training to mastering the techniques of spherical rotation, and through constant training study the basic principles involved. In movement he or she becomes like a spinning top, stable in the center, never losing balance.
Over a period of time one begin to realise that no matter how strong or how much resistance confronts you, your techniques will still be effective. Actually the more resistance, the easier and more devastating the technique. One begin to use less and less energy to apply techniques as you train and realise that it’s not necessary to use the extra energy to be effective. When one execute techniques you use only the amount of force necessary, and no more. The confidence that develops as one train, will then begin to radiate.
Aikido was born from the struggle to answer such vital questions as: What would I do when confronted by someone physically stronger than myself? How can I overcome the other without using weapons of any kind? In a word, how can we devise a defense against someone superior in size, strength and experience?
So perhaps you are a house wife interested in self defence, a police man searching for an acceptable way of exerting appropriate force in the line of duty, a martial artist searching to enhance his current art through aikido, or someone interested in acquiring an effective self defence skill whilst improving general health, flexibility and coordination - then Aikido is for you!!