Aikido training can be seen as a way to not only develop as a martial artist but to transform into a balanced human being by emphasizing mind-body unification and forging the spirit through the exploration of one’s primal nature.
There are many martial arts to choose from. Some are based on striking utilizing punching and kicking. Others focus on grappling and many others are sports orientated. The emphasis in Aikido training is developing balance taking skill. To do this the body must be developed in way the differs from what is usually known as strength training.
The Aikido practitioner slowly learns through repetitive form training to relax the upper body and settle weight onto the hips. With regular practice the body’s movements become more unified and stable. In time a sensitivity to the attackers structure and the ability to lead it off its base of support begins to emerge.
In Aikido we strive to move with the attackers energy without clashing and contribute our unified body movement to the interaction. This is difficult. We human beings are hard wired to push back when pushed and pull when pulled. All of us have a primal system that fires up and takes over under the proper stimulus.
In a dojo setting we explore setting off this primal system in controlled environment. Beginning with basic grabbing attacks and eventually leading up to six attacking freestyle. All this is meant to provide more and more stimulus for the maturing practitioner. Aikido’s technical base consists of joint locking, pinning and throwing.
Another aspect of the training that differs from other martial arts is the role of receiving the application of techniques. This role is highly regarded in the art and helps the development and conditioning of the Aikido body. By receiving technique we slowly temper the body, strengthening it without it becoming rigid and unyielding. This is important for the growth of the practitioners martial abilities.
“Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything – even mountains, rivers, plants and trees should be your teacher.” – Morihei Ueshiba
In Aikido we strive to maintain balance and freedom under unusually confined circumstances. Eventually we are able to move with that freedom which leads to a natural expression of the form based training. And with patient practice a more spontaneous, creative and non primal option begins to express itself. This takes a long time. Consider how long this primalness has been the only option you have had to work with. It will take some time and dedicated effort to make it a secondary response.
Why go through all this effort? For a trophy? Nope… not in Aikido. No trophies. It’s not a sport. To be a badass killing machine? Again no…. We strive to act with a more conscience non primal action. To cause little to no harm.
Why Aikido? Because it’s the long term practice of something difficult. The experience forces us to face our tendency to be impatient with ourselves and others. Ongoing training hits the many walls that we unknowingly created as barriers to protect ourselves.
Why Aikido? We are most powerful when we are not protecting our limited sense of self.
Why Aikido? By repeatedly facing ourselves in the dojo we slowly burn off some of the complexities of being human.
Why Aikido? It’s a way of tapping into the vast potential of being human. Neither male or female just human. A way of moving forward into the world. Ultimately taking action. That’s the difference between an ordinary human stuck in the narrow confines of the self, and a realized martial artist. The martial artist doesn’t react to the world. He or she takes action.