What is Aikido

Aikido is a relatively new martial art dating from the 1920's when its founder, Morihei Ueshiba (O-Sensei), began to develop what he came to call Aikido. Aikido means "the way (do) to harmony (ai) with ki."

The Japanese ideograms {kanji) for Aikido are made up of roots and word elements which bring a wealth of concept and meaning to those who can see them for what they are.

Ai, to fit, to be in harmony or agreement with.

The lower strokes form a square which represents a mouth or opening such as that of a teapot. The upper three strokes yCjj^ originally formed a lid or stopper. The combination sug-^ Vf gests two things which harmonize or fit together, such as the lid on a teapot, the cork in a bottle, the round peg in the round hole.

Ki spirit, breath, energy.

The Japanese ki symbol comes from the ancient Chinese character for Qi, steam, made up of elements representing sun and fire, the sources of steam. The upper three strokes represent the clouds of steam rising from a boiling pot of rice with a lid and handle. The cross within the pot represents a stalk of rice with four individual grains. Together these elements indicate vapor, breath, or spirit.

The elements of the symbol represent hair on a human head and legs walking along a path or what, to my eye, appear to be the square paving sections of a sidewalk or stieet.The combination represents a person walking down a road. Do now means a road or path in the literal sense; by extension it can mean a course of study, a weekly recreation, or a way of life.

Aikido incorporates techniques from traditional martial arts such as ju-jutsu and is rooted in the Japanese samurai warrior tradition of budo.

Budo Is often interpreted as the "way of the sword." However, the symbol is made up of two parts, one representing a spear and the other meaning "to stop, or cease using" — hence the way to stop (or stop using) the sword.

It is the way, notes Ueshiba's student Mitsugi Saotome "to halt the danger of the thrusting blade" but not in the usual sense. "£w" said Ueshiba, "is Love "

Morihei Ueshiba was an intensely religious man and a renowned martial aitist His transformation and integration of these two apparently separate and disparate paths began in 1925 with the challenge of a duel from a high-ranking swordsman Ueshiba had no desire to duel, and refusing to draw his sword, he evaded his opponent's furious cuts and thrusts until the man gave up, exhausted, and begged his forgiveness1.

On returning home, Ueshiba was struck by a startling vision.

All at one e I understood the nature of creation: the Way of a Warrior is to manifest Divine Love, a spirit that embraces and nurtures all things Tears of gratitude and joy streamed down my cheeks I saw the entire earth as mv home, and the sun, moon, and stars as my intimate friends All attachment to material things vanished

Then in 1940.

Around two o'clock in the morning as I was performing ritual purification, I suddenly forgot every martial art technique I had ever learned All of the techniques handed down from my teachers appeared completely anew. Now they were vehicles for the cultivation of life, knowledge, virtue, and good sense, not devices to throw and pin people.

During the worst fighting of World War II, Ueshiba declared.

The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood as a means to kill and destroy others Those who seek competition are making a grave mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst sin a human being can commit. The real vivn of the Warrior is to prevent slaughter. It is the Art of Peace, the Pow er of Love

It is this concern for the opponent that makes Aikido radically different from other martial arts. Two ancient concepts of budo are ai nuke, "mutual preservation," and katsu jin ken, "the saving of your enemy's

1 Ueshiba's barehanded duel with a swordsman is recreated in Taigi 22

life " Both imply choice, action, and responsibility. This is a difficult way, an internal spiritual discipline, that offers neither the thrill of justified vengeance and murder nor the congratulatory self-righteousness of passivism.

Aikido even redefines the idea of "enemy" or "opponent." It is the only martial art recommended by counselors of parents of abusive children.

Imagine a small or aged parent whose 17-year-old 200-pound star fullback son or grandson comes home drunk. By law the parent is responsible — yet there must be no harm to the child. The same dilemma of care and concern in a potentially dangerous situation has left many a strong man helpless.

Many karate students walk into the dojo, watch for a few minutes, decide "it's faking" and walk back out. One night came a young man with a black belt in Tae Kwan Do — and a problem. His fraternity brothers would come home roaring drunk, throwing punches and kicks to get him to show them "his moves" never realizing that his karate i$ designed to break nbs and smash throats. "What can I do?" he asked. "These are my brothers. I don't want to hurt them." His care, compassion, and unwillingness to harm were getting him beaten up. We showed him tenkan, a "turning of the other cheek." He stayed.

Aikido is designed to control rather than destroy the opponent. The Aiki-doist does not punch or kick to injure, does not block or resist attacks but blends with, redirects and transforms the attacker's energy through use of movement and ki.

Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido ("Aikido with Mind-Body Coordinated") is the style of Aikido founded by Ueshiba's student Koichi Tohei in 1974. It differs from other styles primarily in the formal study of ki development and ki testing which provide an unusual opportunity to actually test, measure, and evaluate concepts and relationships between mind and body spirit which must otherwise be dismissed as "flaky New Age weirdness" or accepted on faith, despite doubts or fears.

Ancient Philosophy Of Aikido

Ancient Philosophy Of Aikido

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