|Aikido-Way of Harmony
O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, said, "There are no secret learnings; true progress may be achived from anyone who works with dedication in this way." This is the message sent from Aikido to all the people.
The word, Aikido, is made of three (idioms), each with it's own meaning: Ai - harmony, balance, unity; Ki - energy, spirit, inner-being; Do - way, method, way of life. So, a close approximation to the meaning of Aikido would be the "way of harmonizing diverse energies;" for example, physical and mental energy, or internal (human) and exterior (nature, society, oppostion) energy, etc...
The base principle of Aikido comes from an oriental philosophy of universal balance between two opposing forces, antagonistic but also complimentary: Yin - negative force (darkness, weakness, etc.) and Yang - positive force (light, strength, etc.).
Aikido techniques apply this principle of contrary balance through immediately adapting the way of self defence to the way of attack (eventually out-running the attack), to the point where the defence begins at the same moment of attack: therefore harmony and unity.
Aikido is based on the principle of defence without competition, which has unfortunately reduced the interest of some people who are veiwing a sport as a means for violence or achieving victory through battle. Aikido teaches this principle on the age-old wisdom that the most valuable victory is the one achived without the fight.
An old proverb says, "When an elephant falls, do not get under him to support him; but after he falls, you can push him and help him get back on his feet."
Orientals say, "A slice of an orange has the same taste as the whole orange." The meaning of this saying reflects in Aikido in that all it's students are influenced to have temperance in movement, food consumption, modesty, and physical excersizes. These practices help achieve the goals to keep good health and prevent disease, to learn politeness, and to master yourself in any circumstance.
Aikido is based on physical excersizes of war and ancient principle pholosophies. Aikido appeared in 1925, as a self defence method, founded by the Japanese master Morihei Ueshiba. He formed, synthesized and coded his teachings, in the same that way Jigoro Kano did for Judo in 1882.
Classes in Aikido, as well as other Japanese-related Martial Arts: Judo, Kendo, Karate-do, Kyu-do, etc., all these put together form Budo - the way of perfecting the human through battle methods. The classes take place in a completely civilized atmosphere and the main concern is not to do harm to your colleagues. But, we are talking about such a moral and physical preparedness that allows you, at any moment, to give your best.
Through these classes, it is found to be that whoever reaches a "full participation" in Aikido, has also, apparently without wanting, reached the same kind of attitude in all of thier actions.
At the psycological level, classes in Aikido free the man from the tension of every day life, from the separation of the individuals and their environment, from the conflict between your thoughts and your actions (you say one thing yet you do another). Aikido follows the development of a sixth sense, the ability to intuatively syncronize your own actions in every situation in such a way the the action becomes unique and particular as the situation itself.
The movements of the body are not just a way of reaching spiritual relaxation, but also of learning how to unify all aptitudes and knowledge to apply them to every situation in life, without wasting physical and spiritual energy through emotional or intuative reactions.
In Aikido there is no compeitition and the victories are without spectators. The only victory is the one over ourselves. In Aikido there are no offensive actions or procedures which destroy your adversary, only techniques of defense. These techniques discourage or immobilize the opponent, offering him the chance to understand that the fight is unnecessary.
Following the sayings of O-Sensei, during an Aikido denfence techniquie, Ki (energy) is first absorbed then let go together and syncronized with the breathing. Ki may be transmited from one person to another, both through the force of personality (the spiritual form of manifestation) and through the power of breathing when concentrated and directed properly (the physical form of manifestation).
By practicing Aikido you will find that the idea of Ki is not only understood only with the mind, but it is to be felt and assimilated until it penetrates into your subconscious. To appropriate these techniques of coordinating energy means to achive a higher level of the art of fighting. And by reaching his higher level you can even discourage the intension of an attack. It is known, that you can obtain a victory in three ways:
1) after the fight, you win (you being stronger, more skilled, or maybe luckier);
2) obtaining victory before the fight (the opponent considers himself defeated knowing that you are stronger);
3) obtaining victory without a fight. This type of winning is specific to Aikido.
Another manifestation of Ki is represented in Kiai. Kiai is a shout, or war cry, used in several Martial Arts during the attack to regulate breathing. It is not a spoken cry but the result of the violent exhalation of air. In Aikido it is used only in special situations like an attack with a weapon; that moment is the moment of maximum concentration during defense. Kiai must express total unity between mind, spirit and body of the person that is defending himself.