Aikido - The Way Of Harmony

O'Sensei - Founder Of Aikido Aikido is a modern art of self- defence. It has its origins in Japan. The founder of Aikido was Morehei Ueshiba (1883-1969), also fondly known as O-Sensei (which means "Great Teacher"). The physical art of Aikido evolved from a combination of various Jujitsu styles, sword and spear fighting arts innovatively created by OSensei.

Aikido however is not a narrow art of fighting technique. It has its roots deep in universal laws. The study of Aikido promotes a sense of well-being as it helps us to develop physically, mentally and spiritually. Today, Aikido is practiced worldwide by more than a million people in over fifty countries. Aikido as a self-defence art is also adopted by the Japanese Police Force. With the formation of the International Aikido Federation (IAF) in Tokyo, Aikidokas (Aikido practitioners) are unified globally.

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Introduction to Aikido

 What is Aikido?

Whenever I move, that's Aikido.
O Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba (often referred to by his title 'O Sensei' or 'Great Teacher'). On a purely physical level it is an art involving some throws and joint locks that are derived from Jujitsu and some throws and other techniques derived from Kenjutsu. Aikido focuses not on punching or kicking opponents, but rather on using their own energy to gain control of them or to throw them away from you. It is not a static art, but places great emphasis on motion and the dynamics of movement.

The Japanese word Aikido consists of three characters which can be translated as "the way of unity with the fundamental force of the universe." Aikido is a true Budo or "Martial Way." It has evolved in the historic tradition of Japanese warrior arts. It must be understood that studies in earnest Budo is more than a science of tactics and self-defense; it is a discipline for perfecting the spirit.

"The secret of Aikido," O-Sensei wrote, "is to harmonize with the movement of the universe and bring ourselves into the universe itself." Budo is a work of love, a path to overcome discord in ourselves and bring peace to the world, "To make the heart of the universe one's own heart." O-Sensei taught that true awareness is not by intellect alone. "This is not mere theory," he said. "You must practice it."

 Dynamics Of Aikido

The essence of all Aikido techniques are the use of total body movements to create spherical motion around a stable, energized center. Even when a technique appears to be using only one part of the body, close observation reveals the Aikidoka's movements are, in fact, total body movements. Properly executed, some techniques are spectacular; throwing an opponent away. Others are small, deft movements that immobilize the aggressor. Both results are achieved through precise use of leverage, gravity, and the action of centrifugal and centripetal forces. Ultimately, it is the energy of the attack itself which brings down the attacker.

Aikido Training

The final aim of Budo is personal transformation. Its goal is the creation of integrated human beings who are able to bring the totality of their wisdom and capabilities in order to resolve a problem. Yet philosophical discussion is rare in the dojo, (training hall). The focus is highly practical. Constant repetition to master the fundamentals of movement, timing and breathing is the fundamental requirement. Students train themselves to capture the opponent's action and redirect it with techniques of martial efficiency and power. At the same time, they become aware of the tendency to overreact to opposition, and learn to remain centered under all conditions.

Most practice is done with a partner. Each works at his or her own level of ability, alternating as uke (the attacker), and nage (the one who receives the attack). Both roles are stressed as each contributes skills that enhance overall sensitivity and control.

Increased stamina, flexibility, and muscle development occur naturally as a result of training, but the techniques themselves do not depend on strength for effectiveness. Since Aikido's movements and techniques arise from the most efficient utilization of the entire being, great power can be developed by the practitioner, regardless of physical strength. Aikido practice encompasses a broad range of training styles, and allows people to train based on their individual stage of development. As a result, Aikido can be practiced by men, women and children of all ages.

 Concept Of Centering

The Aikidoka develops a relaxed posture in which the weight of the body is directed towards its physiologic center in the lower abdomen. Gravity is no longer a force to be overcome. Rather it serves to support and stabilize posture. As a result, ordinary movement assumes an appearance of grace and economy. The effects of centering are mental as well as physical. In addition vitality increases, the senses are sharpened, and one is less affected by the irritations and annoyances of daily living. This state is referred to in Japan as having hara, or strong ki. It is a manifestation of the inner quality which aids the student of Aikido to develop to his or her fullest potential in every area of life.

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