Aikido is a Japanese martial art currently practiced throughout the world. Behind the powerful catapulting throws, immobilizing locks, and pins of Aikido lie some very simple principles: remove yourself from the direct line of your enemy’s attack. Through the absorption and deflection of the force of the attack, your enemy is taken out of balance and defeated by the energy of their own aggression. Aikido does not use strength against strength but stresses body and mind relaxation to direct the opponent’s force away.
Because its main purpose is not to take the offensive in injuring or harming the opponent, Aikido has often been called a nonviolent” martial art. In daily practice, the student of Aikido seeks to achieve firmness, stability, sobriety, and elegance, which make Aikido one of the most powerful and beautiful ways of artistic expression, while conserving its potential as one of the most devastating offers of self-defense. Aikido may be practiced by all people regardless of age, sex, religion, or previous athletic ability. Systematic Aikido practice leads to increased aerobic capacity and overall body conditioning through both flexibility and strength training. The general philosophy of Aikido makes extensive use of the concept of Ki. The name Aikido can be translated as “the way of harmony of Ki.”
Exactly what Ki ‘is’ is a somewhat controversial issue. Aikido is one of the more spiritual martial arts and has been referred to as ‘moving Zen’. Ai” means to come together or to harmonize, “Ki” means the spirit of the universe, and “Do” means the way. Ki is the force behind all things. Everything in the universe has Ki. Ki is the essence of our world. It is the basis of all matter, every phenomenon, emotion, sense, direction, will, consciousness, and conscience.
Ki is also an energy that can be very useful in our daily lives when used properly. It is our life force that keeps us alive and the binding force of our mind and body. We can be very efficient if we unify our mind and body.
However, it is rather difficult to maintain the oneness of mind and body throughout our daily lives without something to bind them together. As electricity keeps the computer and the robot working together, Ki keeps the mind and the body working in sync. Some believe that the physical entity Ki simply does not exist. Instead, the spirit, the intention, the bio-physico-psychological coordination through relaxation and awareness are concepts being used in the teaching.
One must first learn to control oneself before attempting to harmonize and control others. Without good balance and control of oneself, one cannot avoid an attack or apply an effective technique on others. It is through self-control that one can learn to enjoy a harmonious way of life. In order to harmonize with the laws of nature, we must first learn to develop and maintain the right attitude of training.
We must always keep the attitude of becoming one with every situation. This is an attitude of respect for all things at all times. Regardless of the situation, friend or foe, one must always be ready to harmonize. The right attitude greatly affects the efficiency of the action. It is not how strong, but rather how correct you are that counts.
This concept of mind-body connection will make it possible for anyone, regardless of age or sex, to perform the arts efficiently. There are four keys to body and mind unity. First, calmly let your mind settle at an imaginary point about two inches below the navel. Second, relax your entire body to the point where you are able to maintain complete control of yourself by keeping calmness of mind and body between tenseness and limpness. Third, naturally allow the gravitational pull to settle your entire body down to where it should settle. Lastly, think positively and be ready for action with a calm and flexible mind without referring to excessive physical strength.
Aikido is a positive attitude towards life.