The Art of Aikido
Although the roots of Aikido’s techniques go back to the fighting styles of feudal Japan, present day Aikido is the creation of a remarkable man, Morihei Ueshiba, commonly referred to as O Sensei, meaning “great teacher.”
O Sensei studied a variety of traditional martial arts including jujitsu (unarmed combat), kenjitsu (sword fighting) and sojitsu (spear fighting) and became one of the most renowned martial artists of his day.
O Sensei was also a follower of the Omoto religion and a man of high spiritual understanding. He came to realize that fighting is a futile means of resolving conflicts, that violence only creates more violence. Even the most powerful and accomplished warriors must eventually succumb to time and aging. In the end, defeat is inevitable.
O Sensei understood that ultimate victory came from not fighting at all. He saw that by manipulating and harmonizing with an attacker’s movement, a fight can be completely avoided. In this way, Aikido became an actual physical expression of his spiritual beliefs.
O Sensei continued his practice of Aikido until his death at age 86. After he passed away on April 26, 1969, the Japanese government bestowed its highest honor, declaring Morihei Ueshiba to be a Sacred National Treasure of Japan.
Aikido can seem almost magical at first with attackers flying through the air or withering in pain from what appear to be effortless movements on the part of the defender. However, it’s not magic but movement that makes Aikido so effective.
The essence of all Aikido techniques is spherical motion around a stable, energized center. Even when the direction of movement appears to be straight forward or backward, close observation reveals the movements are in fact circular.
In Aikido you learn how to blend with the motion of an attack, redirecting the assailant’s movement and taking him or her off balance. Properly executed, some techniques are spectacular, sending an opponent flying through the air. Others are like sleight-of-hand: small, deft movements that immobilize the aggressor. 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 that brings down the attacker.
The benefits of Aikido training go far beyond simple self defense. Aikido teaches you how to focus your mind, body, and spirit into powerful, unified action, creating a vital, perceptive, and engaging personality.
Daily practice improves your physical conditioning, your strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination. It also develops your mental conditioning, your self-confidence, concentration, alertness, intuitiveness, and concern for others.
Aikido has been referred to as “Zen in motion” because of its meditative and philosophical qualities. It fosters self-awareness that can eventually lead you toward spiritual enlightenment.
Aikido’s philosophy of harmoniously dealing with conflict can also be used as a means of overcoming the stress and conflicts we face in our everyday lives. The principles of Aikido teach you how to avoid confrontations and to stay calm and centered in the midst of adversity.