Knowing the basics of Aikido
Aikido is one of the oldest form of martial arts. Founded by Morihei Ueshiba, aikido came about through the studies of many different kinds of traditional martial arts. In fact, is often perceived as a form of exercise or a dance because of some of its forms. It is also viewed by some quarters as some form of martial mesmerism.
Aikido is even confused with Daito Ryu Aikijutsu, it is different in its essence. Still, its founder attributed his creation of aikido to the way, his master Sokaku Takeda, grandmaster of Daito Ryu, opened his eyes to the nature of Budo.
What is aikido?
Despite its many perceived forms, aikido is a Budo or martial arts. It is the refinement of the techniques that are being taught in traditional martial arts and is combined with a philosophy that calls on for the power of the spirit. In its essence, it is a blending of the body and the mind.
Its philosophy is basically derived from the belief that deceptions and trickery or brute force will not make us defeat our opponents. Instead, concentration that involves the spirit will be enough to strengthen us.
Aikido is also used as a way to discover our true paths so that we can develop our individuality. It also teaches its practitioners to unify their body and their mind so that they will become in harmony with the “universe” and with nature. Their power and their strength will come from this balance and harmony.
The word “universe” in aikido is not some obscure concept that one cannot achieve. It is actually quite concrete and is even within the grasp of the person. In aikido, “universe” can be achieved through actual experiences and everyday life.
Aikido’s movements and techniques are circular. When a circle is created in aikido, the person is said to be protected from a collision from an opposing force. A firm center, however, is needed to create this circle. An example of a firm circle is a spinning top that turns at fast speed. Without a firm center, the speed of movement will only create imbalance. The stillness of the spinning top while in speeding motion is what is called sumikiri in Aikido language. This is achieved only by what Aikido founder calls “total clarity of mind and body.” However, this is not so easily achieved. It takes a long time of study and practice in order to find this intense concentration and centeredness.
Training is important in aikido as well as concentration because while it may be easy to create a centered being when inside a martial arts gym, the same cannot be said of situations and circumstances outside. It will not be easy to keep one’s composure when faced with extraordinary circumstances. This is actually one of the goals of Aikido training. It aims to teach its practitioners to maintain their composure and their centeredness even in panic situations such as danger and calamities.
One method taught in aikido is to breathe with what is called the seika tanden point. This is the part of the body that can be found two inches below the navel. Controlled breathing is one key to being one with the universe and to center oneself with nature. When a person learns to do this, he or she will feel extraordinary calmness that they can use in the practice of aikido.
Aikido in Everyday Life
The modern martial art from Japan called Aikido is often referred to as the “art of peace” because it espouses a quick peaceful end to any form of aggression. In the practice place of Aikido, usually called dojo, students will be able to learn about flexibility and adaptation. Both of these are results of a relaxed manner that Aikido students strive to embody.
The reason why being relaxed and calm is taught in Aikido practice is because at the heart of its principles of spirituality and philosophy, Aikido masters and instructors believe that the ki or ch’i or energy can only truly flow in its complete potential energy when one is relaxed. It is in this relaxed state that ki flows freely and smoothly. This philosophy that ki is a force that is very strong and fundamental.
It is believed to be superior to muscle and physical strength, which sometimes hinders the ki. In fact, in Aikido, instead of muscle and strength building, flexibility and endurance is part of the Aikido martial art training. Now, it said that to be able to truly harness the power of the ki, it must be allowed to flow. It can only flow properly within us when we are in a relaxed state. The relaxed state cannot be built like muscles through exercise. A spiritual journey must be taken upon by an Aikido student to be able to achieve the state of calm and peace that is vital in combat.
In constant defense and fear, we tend to be too busy to concentrate and are easily distracted. Aikido stresses this fact and so it teaches its students to remain calm in the face of an assault. Remaining calm puts an advantage over the assailant because you will not be caught of guard and unaware and therefore will not be toppled over or thrown. More advanced techniques teach students not only to fall properly, but also to be able to rebound and plant a counter attack as one rises from a fall.
Beyond combat and the dojo however, Aikido masters and instructors cultivate the development of spirituality and character within Aikido students so that they can apply Aikido principles everyday in life. True understanding of Aikido simultaneously promotes better performance in practice combats as well as in performance in everyday life.
Aikido everyday in life is akin to having an unshakable peace and calm that enables you to have the strength needed to withstand even the toughest of life’s challenges. Remember that Aikido teaches students about flexibility, adaptability, calm and clarity. All these are useful tools in dealing with life, so say Aikido practitioners.
Some Aikido martial artists tend to relate Aikido combat principles to everyday life like work, play and personal relationships. This results in a true oneness in the practice of Aikido everyday in life. In Aikido training, there is such a thing as uke and nage. One cannot exist without the other. Uke makes an assault on nage and consequently is the receiver of the Aikido technique which nage uses to neutralize uke’s attack energy with. In training using uke and nage, one will be able to get better in Aikido techniques by learning from each other and gaining each others strengths and battling each others weaknesses together.
If this is something that you want to cultivate in your life then Aikido everyday in life is something that you might want to take up and learn.