The beginnings of Aikido The name aikido is formed by the combination of three characters in the Japanese language. Ai, which means joining; ki, which means spirit and do, which means way. These three words actually summarize the essence of aikido as a form of martial art— the joining of the spirit to find the way. It was only in the period from 1930s to the 40s that the name aikido was officially accepted as the name of the martial arts form. Aikido uses techniques that do not damage or kill unlike other forms of martial arts. The movements and skills being taught are just meant to divert attention or immobilize people. This is perhaps the reason why most people prefer aikido, because of it’s focus on peace and harmony as opposed to aggression and conflict. In fact, aikido developer Morihei Ueshiba believes that to control aggression without causing any injury is the art of peace. Ueshiba, who is also called Osensei, which means Great Teacher, created aikido from the principles of Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu. He incorporated the techniques of the yari, the spear; the juken, which is a bayonet; and the jo, which is a short quarterstaff). But what ultimately separates aikido from other forms of martial arts is the fact that its practitioners can attack while empty-handed. Practitioners need no weapons for protection. As a young child, he was much into physical fitness and conditioning. This is because of his vow to avenge his father’s death. Eventually, his studies and activities brought him to the discipline of the different martial arts. He studied all. He even has certificates, fencing, fighting with spears, etc. He has learned it all. This is perhaps the reason why aikido is such a diverse and multi-disciplinary form of martial arts. Yet despite his know how, he remains dissatisfied. He felt that there is still something missing. It was then that he turned to the religions. He studied under a spiritual leader, Onisaburo Deguchiof the sect Omoto-kyo in Ayabe. Deguchiof taught him to take care of his spiritual growth. He then combined his spiritual beliefs and his mastery of the different martial arts. Aikido was born. His association with this charismatic spiritual leader Deguchiof also paved the way for his introduction to the elite political and military people as a martial artist. Because of this connection, he was able to establish aikido and even transferred the teachings to students, who have in turn developed their own styles of movement in aikido. Aikido is a combination of the different styles of jujitsu as well as some of the techniques of sword and spear fighting, of which Ueshiba is an expert. To get an overall picture, aikido combines the joint locks and throws techniques of jujitsu and the movements of the body when fighting with sword and spears. Oriental in origin, it was brought to the west by Minoru Mochizuki when he visited France in 1951. He introduced the aikido techniques to students who are learning judo. In 1952, Tadashi Abe came to France as the official Aikikai Honbu representative. Then in 1953, Kenji Tomiki toured through the United States while Koichi Tohei stayed in Hawaii for a full year where he set up a dojo. Aikido then spread its influence in United Kingdom two years after and in 1965, it reached Germany and Australia. At present, aikido has centers all over the world. The Underlying Principle of Everything In quantum physics, one of the foremost theories that promises to revolutionize how we see the world is the theory of strings. The main premise of this particular theory is that strings are the most basic structure that makes up everything we can and cannot see within the physical world. Strings of course is just a word to label this most profound substance that theoretical physicists say dictate everything we see, perceive and have in and around us in this physical world. Although no direct correlation has ever been claimed between string theory and that of the principles of ch'i prevalent in the East, they share the same premise in the most basic sense that it is said that there is a basic energy substance that underlie everything. In understanding the nature of this substance we are able to harness its power and utilize it. The concept of ch'i or qi in Chinese and ki in Japanese, is very much relative to the type of school that teaches it. Some say that ch'i is a force separate from matter as we know it. Some say that ch'i arises from matter. Still some say that matter arises from ch'i. What all schools have in common however is the fact that they all more or less say that ch'i is a fundamental energy that can be harnessed to bring power to oneself wither physically, mentally or spiritually. With all the different premises that try to explain ch'i, it is clear that mere instructions in words will not be able to fully expound on what ch'i is. Perhaps because of this, it is better to pass on the knowledge of ch'i through actual and practical instruction. One school that may be successful in being able to teach what the ch'i is and how to be able to use it for one's own benefit is Aikido. At the heart of the spirituality and philosophy or Aikido is the ki, which is similar or perhaps, one and the same with what is otherwise known as the ch'i or qi. Aikido's ki is the heart of the principle of this particular martial art. While technically, martial arts are means for combat and war, Aikido is often known as the art of peace because it espouses a peaceful means towards aggression. Aikido ki, like in other concepts of ch'i teaches that there is a fundamental energy that can be harnessed. Aikido ki being energy means that its substance is something that flows. The principle of peace and relaxation taught by Aikido presupposes the fact that the ki flows more smoothly and strongly when it is uninterrupted. A better illustration might be something like, if water is ki, then to harness its power, it must be allowed to flow to produce hydroelectric force. This is why in Aikido, ki energy comes from being relaxed. It is said that in the relaxed state, the flow of ki is better aided. Aikido as a martial art is not about muscle strength or superior physical attributes. It is really about relaxation, flexibility and stamina. This allows a smaller person to be able to topple and throw a larger opponent during practice. Using Aikido Moves in Practice or in Combat It only takes a split second whether someone comes out as a victor or a loser in combat. The person can try to remember it later on to see what errors were made in order to become a better fighter in the future. Such things also happen in competition which is why it is best for the student to be familiar with the various aikido moves at all times. For instance, in Ai hanmi Iriminage a person grabs the attacker by the neck and forces the opponent to the ground. In Ai hanmi Kokyuho, this is similar to the first with the difference of extending the arm a little farther in order to achieve maximum effect. Should the attacker have a knife, a good aikido move to use is called Katate Ryotemochi in which the individual uses both hands to block the weapon used by the attacker and disarming it before putting the person on the ground. If the individual is able to get behind the attacker, perhaps doing Ushiro Ryokatatori will be a good idea. This will allow the student to grab both shoulders of the person. Should the individual be tough, perhaps applying Ushiro Kubishime, which will temporarily cut the air supply until the assailant is unconscious, is the best thing to do. Not all the aikido moves being taught are just to block and the make the person fall to the ground. There are also striking moves such as Kata Menuchi in which the hand makes a slice to the middle of the forehead. Those who don’t want to inflict a concussion can try Mune Tsuki, which is a strike to the chest. A good move for the leg is the Aiki Otoshi better known in English as a leg sweep. This will surely keep the person down especially when that attacker thinks that all the student can do is use the arms when defending. Once the attacker has been subdued, it will be safer to keep the attacker locked in a Sankyo hold. This technique is used by police, which is very useful when the police are on the way to the location. There are more than 10 different moves in Aikido. The person should be able to distinguish one from the other especially when the terms are all in Japanese. It will be the choice of the individual which one to use when one is engaged in combat. The first step in learning this martial art will be to enroll in a dojo. The person can look at the directory to find the nearest one to the home and then choose to sign up if the rates are affordable. The student will then be taught the rules, how to wear the uniform and then the proper moves in each stroke. The individual should not expect to get it right on the first day but eventually do better in the coming days. The person should remember that Aikido unlike other martial arts can only be used for defensive purposes. Usually when the suspect has failed in the attack, this person will run so the individual should not give chase but rather get help. It is only with practice sparring with a partner or even doing the same thing in competition that both the mind and the body can be conditioned to engage an attacker in combat. Founding Principles of Aikido Aikido means "The Way of Harmony with the Spirit" and is considered a non-violent form of martial art. However, don't be fooled. Aikido when used correctly is very powerful often are able to block and neutralize strong attacks and counter them with an equal force. Morihei Ueshiba, now known as O-sensei to the world of Aikido, founded the martial art. O-sensei is a master of Jujitsu or unarmed combat, Kinjitsu or sword combat, and sojitsu or spear combat and studied philosophical and religious teachings. Because of the religious and philosophical foundations of Aikido, principles of the martial art include ways to harmonize with the ki or spirit within oneself and the bigger spirit of nature. Among the principles of Aikido include oneness, circular motion and ki. Among the philosophical teachings of Aikido, one of the more basics and more important is learning to control oneself. Maintaining an inner balance is necessary to harmonize with others enabling to control an opponent's attack or applying an effective technique. Self-control is the key to achieve and maintain harmony. The Principle of Oneness is another basic principle in Aikido. An aikidoka must learn to become one with any situation. Becoming one means having an attitude of respect for all things and situations, friend or foe. By training to become one with every situation, harmonization will follow and it will become possible to execute Aikido techniques, movements and forms accurately and efficiently. Harmony also means synthesis. And the spiritual circle which is a foundation of all Aikido techniques synthesizes everything. Aikido is a combination of circular movements. Its techniques and movements revolve around the concept of circular motions. When an opponent attacks, the aikidoka uses a circular motion of the lower abdomen to control the attack and execute Aikido techniques to counterattack. It is said that defense is the greatest offense. In Aikido to defend properly an attack, one must learn to move away from the range of effectiveness of the opponent's attack. However, as you try to defend by getting out of the opponent's effective range, you must also try to maintain your own range of effectiveness in order to counterattack efficiently. You won't be able to give an effective counterattack if you stepped too far away from your opponent. Similarly, being too close would definitely lessen the effectiveness of your techniques. Everything will depend on the situation. As an Aikido practitioner, you must learn to determine how to avoid your opponent's range while controlling your own in various situations. Finally, the Principle of Ki involves believing that every thing in the universe is governed by a force or spirit. Ki is also the energy and our life force. Ki is the force that binds the mind and the body. It is the energy that harmonizes us to our surroundings. By learning to control our Ki, we will be able to unify our mind and our body maximizing efficient movements and execution of Aikido techniques. Aikido focuses on the distance, motion, speed, and projection of an attacker. By using blending, spiraling, and extension techniques, the attack will be neutralized and by using one's centeredness and hips, the same amount of force can be applied to the attacker. In Aikido, the spiraling and circular movements reflect what the martial art is: a fluid and flowing movement of spirit and energy. Tips in choosing an aikido school Aikido is one of the oldest and most widely-used martial arts forms in the world. It is being taught for centuries as a form of self-defense and protection. It is also a way for people to learn centeredness and balance in their lives. Aikido is a martial arts form that requires constant practice and dedicated study for it does not only teach you self-defense, it also teaches you discipline. A good aikido training school is needed to achieve this. This is the reason why it is important for you to find a school that will not only teach you the basics but will also nurture your budding talent. Here are some tips in choosing a good aikido school. Go for the recommended ones Although all aikido training schools will be teaching the same set of tricks and techniques, there are schools that will give you better training. One way to look for good aikido schools is to ask around your neighborhood or among your friends and acquaintances. They are great sources because not only will they be able to provide you with names that are located in a place convenient to you, they will also be able to give you first hand information on the teaching method of the school. In fact, they can even give you tips and advice on aikido training. Another way is to ask martial arts teachers. Even if they are not teaching aikido, they will know people who teach aikido and will be able to recommend good ones. There are also forums over the internet where you can post your questions. Members of the site or those that frequently read the forums will surely answer. Chances are they will know a good aikido school that is near your house. Forums like these are very effective because members are mostly aikido or martial arts buffs who know the business and will surely know what they are talking about. Look for one that is near In addition to the training, you will also need to find a school that is near your house or your place of work. Location is important in giving you the drive. Places that are far from your place will only result in frequent absenteeism, which is not good for your training. Another advantage that near locations provide is the fact that it gives you the chance to urge friends or family members to come with you and also be interested in the martial art form. Teacher and mentor Before enrolling in a program, make sure that you got to meet and talk to the teacher. Although it may seem unimportant, it is vital to also be attuned and in harmony with the teacher of aikido as he or she will not only be teaching you aikido basics but also your mentor in your life. Scheduling Getting a good schedule is another crucial point in getting a good aikido training. Look for schools that offer the schedule that you want. Remember that the time that you will be training is also important because it will determine your readiness for the lesson. If your schedule is not the right fit, you will only feel tired and uninspired during the training, something which is not good when learning aikido as it asks for your total commitment and passion to the task. Aikido Secrets Everyone Should Know When an attacker is approaching, the person only has a split second to decide whether to dodge or block the move of the opponent. There is no point thinking about what this happened in the first place but the concern now is just to stop it. In a fight, the person can make a counter attack in the hopes that the individual will be subdued. There is another way of course without resorting to force, which is the technique one can learn in aikido. Aikido is a martial art in which the person blocks the moves of an opponent by using the hands. Anyone who wants to learn it will not be able to move as fast as Steven Segal in one of his action films but still be effective in combat. This martial art cannot be learned by merely watching others do it in the movies or in television. There are some who even show the step by step process in a magazine but nothing still compares to learning it from a Sensei. The person must first become a student in order to be called a master. This means learning the basic rules from entering the dojo until the class is over. The person will surely feel some pain after falling down a few times on the mat but this is not to torture the pupil. This is all part of the training, which the student must also do properly in order to move into the more advanced classes. One of the secrets is being able to know when to use it since timing is everything. There is a bit of hand to eye coordination just like in sports but here, the individual will merely redirect the same force back to that individual. Another secret in using aikido has to do with the wrist. The person should be smooth enough to put one hand over the opponents to be able to make the technique work and counter the attack. It takes a certain amount of energy to be able to perform certain moves. The individual will learn the various breathing exercises that will increase the heart rate and slow it down especially in the heat of the action. The student should bear in mind that the breathing exercises also serves as a unifying force between the physical and the emotional aspect of the person. The most important secret in mastering aikido is being consistent with the technique. The arms will surely feel heavy after some time or a certain amount of energy is drained after a few moves. By being able to do the same thing despite these difficulties, anyone can truly be called a true martial artist. People who want to check on how well one is doing can sign up for Tomiki Aikido. This is a competition held by various clubs in which the student will compete among some of the best in the country. Those who do well here can move up to the next skill level just like in karate where a student moves from one belt to another. If after many years, that student has learned all the secrets that go with aikido, this is the only time one can be called a master and even open a dojo. The Relaxed Martial Art Traditionally, martial art systems were created as a documented practice of training for combat mode in the ancient eras. Naturally, its modern day applications are primarily for self-defense, exercise and physical fitness. One form of martial arts however stands out from the rest in the sense that it espouses a relaxed way of life over cunning and physical strength. At the heart of it, the Aikido spirit is about cultivating relaxation and a serenity throughout everyday life to be able to harness this virtue in actual physical combat. Aikido is actually a modern Japanese martial art and the Aikido spirit continues to live on today years after it was developed by Morihei Eushiba between 1920 to 1960. Noteworthy about this particular martial art is that the Aikido spirit is cultivated within its students so that there is a spiritual and philosophical development that happens; which in turn becomes the basis of the combative art. Modern day students of Aikido testify that they bring the Aikido spirit with them throughout ordinary mundane activities, forming a bridge between principles of how to tackle everyday life and combat moves on the training mat. This spiritual and philosophical basis of the Aikido spirit that cultivates relaxation and the peaceful control of aggression, is attributed to the founder's background in Omoto- kyo religion. Omoto-kyo is a modern Japanese religion, which is said to be an offshoot of Shintoism. Omoto-kyo followers believe in beautifying the world with art because they believe that art brings humans closer to the divine. Aside from this however, the Omoto-kyo followers are pacifists who espouse peace over war. This is the parallel between Omoto-kyo and Aikido. That is why the Aikido spirit is often paradoxically referred to as the art of peace. One may wonder about the sanity behind the fact that a martial art which was in all intentions created for combat and winning over the enemy can indeed to be claim to the art of peace. For all intents and purposes however, the philosophical and spiritual foundation of Aikido is about maintaining a constant state of relaxation. It is in this relaxed state that the Aikido practitioner is able to perform difficult throws and maneuvers as taught by the martial art. The relaxed state can be attributed to a deep unshakable peace free of aggression. The concept is that when we are tense and not relaxed, we needlessly waste energy on aggression and force. By going with the flow and not being afraid of what can or cannot happen to us, we cultivate a peace with a relaxed demeanor as its direct consequence. The Aikido spirit aims to cultivate a mental discipline, develop character and self- confidence with the end goal of being able to maintain peace and relaxation. It believes that in peace can one realize true power: The power to spread peace further and the strength to be able to withstand the onslaught of everyday situations. The basics in passing on the Aikido spirit can be done through practical applications that clearly show that a relaxed demeanor is more effective than an aggressive one. One such physical example is the exercise of trying to cause someone to lose their balance. To be able to topple off an opponent usually means that we should be physically stronger and in some cases larger so that superior physical strength through muscle contraction is the traditional measure of victory. Aikido Weaponry is All About Techniques Aikido is a kind of martial arts which is often considered as modern Japanese budo. This martial art's emphasis is on the spiritual and philosophical development of one's self. The word "Aikido" basically means "The Way of Harmony with the Spirit." It is the study of the natural laws and how they harmonize with the mind and body. Aikido is encompassing. You will be taught to use both armed and unarmed forms of combat and self defense. For unarmed attacks, you have at your disposal a variety of throws, strikes, joint-lock techniques, vital points and even those so-called mystery attacks wherein you attack the opponent without laying a hand on him or her. Meanwhile, armed attacks involve the use of every kind of weapon imaginable. From swords to knives, from sticks to spears, practically everything can be utilized in Aikido as a weapon. However, in general most Aikido classes are conducted with exclusive training with the use of the jo or staff, tanto or knife and the bokken or sword. These three serve as the main weapons used in Aikido. Even though Aikido appears to be using more unarmed forms and techniques of martial arts, there are a couple of reasons why weapons are studied in Aikido classes and training sessions. Aikido has a strong weapon martial arts foundation and any training with weapons will only reinforce the basic techniques of the martial art. Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba, known to his students and Aikido practitioners as ?- sensei which means Great Teacher, was particularly skilled with the staff. He was able to integrate weapon techniques with basic Aikido movements. But among the multitude of weapons out there the sword has the most influence on the development stages of Aikido techniques. Through weapons training, an Aikido practitioner will be able to measure the distance between attacks. Also called ma-ai, the proper distancing is very important in timing an attack and defending one. And speaking of defense, weapons training is also necessary since advanced Aikido techniques involve defending against people bearing all sorts of weapons. In order to practice each advanced move safely, Aikido practitioners needed to be familiar with each weapons' capabilities. Therefore, with Aikido weapons training, one will be able to develop his skills, intuitiveness and reflexes in both attacking and defending movements. Among the weapons used in Aikido weapons training include the katana, the single edged, slightly curved sword famous in the world as the sword of the samurai. In Aikido weapons training, you will also be taught to handle, hold, fight and defend using the tanto which in actuality is a knife or a short blade. The tanto was also extremely popular amongst the men and women who lived by the samurai code during their time. Another bladed weapon used in Aikido weapons training is the ninja-to. The ninja-to are swords used by those mysterious ninjas. Samurais back then also have wakizashi swords at their disposal. Wakizashi are usually two feet long and are paired with the katana. The j? meanwhile is a four-foot long wooden staff used by not only Aikido but by other martial artists as well. When Aikido techniques are fused with jo, the principle is called aiki-j? which involves an integration of Aikido techniques in Aikido which uses the j? to illustrate Aikido's principles with a weapon.