Why Aikido?


Where It Came From

Aikido has its origins in the centuries-old traditions of the Japanese martial arts. It is a form of budo—a way of life that seeks to polish the self through a blend of rigorous physical training and spiritual discipline.

The term aikido was coined in 1942 by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), who had spent many years practicing traditional martial arts, including the techniques of the sword, spear, and staff. Master Ueshiba became known as one of the most powerful warriors in Japan, but after a while he began to have doubts concerning the apparent rationale of the martial arts and the character of most of the martial artists of the time. The arts appeared to be directed solely toward the goal of fighting and winning over others; and the martial artists wished only to gain top honors and reputations, regardless of the costs or consequences. It seemed a never-ending cycle of winning and losing, where the strongest today would be defeated tomorrow by someone even stronger.

To resolve his conflicts regarding the martial arts, Master Ueshiba studied various spiritual and philosophical disciplines of Japan with the same vast energies he had previously brought to the martial arts.

Eventually he came to believe that the true meaning of the martial arts was to protect. He concluded that every living creature has the inherent right to grow and develop without interference and that the mission of the martial arts was to safeguard this right and to forestall destructive conflicts. This spirit of protection extended even to an aggressor. The martial arts of the time were unsuitable for this. What was needed was a new martial art. The time came when Master Ueshiba was able to reconcile and synthesize his physical skills with his spiritual understanding. The result was aikido.

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How It Works

Aikido offers a way to empower the human spirit by attuning us to the natural rhythms of the universe. Its movement is the movement of the universal energy forces. The motions of aikido reflect the ebbs and flows, the curves, waves, and spirals found in nature.

Of prime concern in aikido is the force of gravity. The practice of aikido trains students to relax and align their bodies so that the weight of the various parts falls or is directed to a common center in the lower abdominal area. This allows the individual to gain support from rather than oppose the force of gravity.

This centering is as much a mental process as a physical one. Practicing aikido teaches one to coordinate and unify the mind and body so that one can function unaffected by an outside negative force or influence, whether it be a physical attack or some form of mental aggravation.

The movements of aikido are designed to keep a physical attack from interfering with this unified state, and the techniques which evolve from these movements use centrifugal and centripetal forces to bring an attacker under your control.

The basic posture of aikido is triangular; its movements are spherical. Even when the direction is straight backward or forward, the bodily movement is rotational. When the spherical movements of aikido are properly executed, the forces exerted by individual parts are joined around a stable center. As a result, each individual part is supported by the whole, and the whole is able to react to the force applied to any individual part, much as a windmill responds to the slightest pressure against any one of its vanes.

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What It's Good For

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